Well, tomorrow we say goodbye to Les Manguiers, Kampot and Cambodia and off we go to Hanoi. We’ve been travelling for almost two months now and this is a good time to review our trip.
In a lot of ways this trip is about time. All of us know what it’s like to be time-poor. Our family is very lucky in being able to choose to be time-rich. We can (as Rolf Potts puts it) “spend [our] time lavishly in order to create the life values that make the fire worth the candle”. Eight years ago, all of our spare time disappeared overnight when the girls were born. We’ve been heavily scheduled since, trying to fit (as we all do) parenting, family, work, school, hobbies and everything else into our lives.
Here, in our relatively unscheduled day-to-day, we’ve redicovered what it is like to find joy spontaneously. We swim most days and have giggled endlessly as we prepare swim shows and jump from the rope swing. After dinner we’ve kicked a soccer ball together and then raced home on our bikes (this is my faviourite day ever! – Saga). Impromptu conversations with travelers give us perspectives and ideas about traveling and life that we wouldn’t otherwise hear. We read together voraciously and talk about the themes that come up in the books. We do some of these things back at home but we have to schedule them. Here, they happen as the day unfolds, often appearing as little pleasures that surprise us.
Here are some shots of some post-supper extemporaneous fun with dinner serviettes:
Starting our adventure with an extended 2-month stay in our little bungalow by the river has let us use our rediscovered time as we wish. We haven’t (yet) spent long hours riding on planes or trains followed by having to navigate our way through new places. This has freed us up to do the things we enjoy. And it also lets us be deliberate about how we live together as parents, spouses, kids; another big thing this trip is about.
This is our first gig as school teachers. We’ve enjoyed combining lessons from the Grade Three Ontario French Immersion Curriculum with lessons from the School of Life (Cambodian Edition). We’ve benefited greatly from the last-minute decision to bring along the big Math Smart Grade Three books. The girls love them. Support from some of the girls’ teachers back home has helped us keep up with the girls’ peers and locate online resources. All in all we have been able to handle teaching grade three. Grade four would have been a stretch but luckily, for us and the girls, we have the pros from Jackman PS for that.
No review is complete without a retrospective on frights. Here is our top ten list.
- Admitting Saga to the hospital
- Readmitting Saga to the hospital
- Seeing (and feeling!) Kampot critters’ mass migration to our house during the flood
- Mingling with water snakes during and after the flood
- Observing the terrifyingly ugly lizards that has been snuggling up in our reading nook from day 1
- A frog jumping from who knows where on top of Nigel’s head in the middle of dinner
- A gecko jumping, in a pitch-black bathroom, from Louise’s toilet kit directly into her armpit
- Riding bikes through Kampot traffic
- Going to the local market for the first time, feeling overwhelmed by the sights and smells (and the constant stares and occasional touches by well-meaning ladies)
- Looking over the cliff behind the old casino at Bokor Mountain from which prisoners were thrown to their deaths by the Khmer Rouge
We’ll fly to Hanoi tomorrow. We’ll stay for a week and take in a water puppet show, spend a night in Halong Bay on a junk and move on to Luang Prabang for two weeks. After that we’ll be in Da nang for a month staying in a downtown flat.
We’ve really appreciated all your comments and ideas and advice and thoughts and shared experiences. Keep them coming. Thanks for reading.
And thank you, Kampot River.