The Shenanigan Factor Multiplier

It’s been an eventful few days since my last post: for one, I am apparently now in the business of “homeschooling” my children for the next 3 weeks while their school is closed to prevent possible coronavirus infection (if you read this, please send wine) and for two, well … see my previous point.

Oh, and for three, Wuhan is our onward assignment for the summer – yes, the Chinese city no one had ever heard of until now. Our summer plans are a bit up in the air at the moment which is especially sad as we were all looking forward to this posting (fingers crossed we will actually head there!) and since John has spent two years preparing for this assignment. Exciting times.

But let’s get back to our fun-filled trip to Cambodia and treasure every last minute of all
“the best and the worst of times.” 

After the sunrise at Angkor Wat and our “eggciting” breakfast, we headed out of town to a local floating village to enjoy a boat tour and change of scenery. I may or may not have panicked when the boy with the snake pulled up right next to us and wanted us to pet his wild animal…. Yeah, if we’re at the verge of a pandemic from a zoonotic disease that may or may not have originated from wild snakes, I say ’maybe we should just skip petting that lovely python” (and run to the other side of the boat, you choose). 

On our way back to Siem Reap, we stopped at the Landmine Museum which was definitely worth a stop. This started the part of the trip where we dug into a bit of the awful recent Cambodian history and it’s been a point of family discussion for the past few weeks. The museum is small and very thoughtfully done with lots of displays and posters about landmine uses and their victims who’ve come to live or receive training and education at the small museum/school. 

After dinner and after what felt like the equivalent of staying awake for 3 days, we decided to hit the Siem Reap night market for some shopping therapy and discovered a fake 711 (or 7 em?) market with interesting merchandise.

Affter a fun night of hanging out, playing games and watching the kids make sense of Cambodian history by building mine fields in their Minecraft worlds, we headed back to Phnom Penh for a fabulous Vietnamese lunch (no, it was a miss!) and an unforgettable sunset river cruise (again, another bust). 

Fortunately the night was saved by a respite stop at the HardRock Cafe with “free” mojitos and all the sundaes Uncle Larry could want! The conversation ranged from creating new words “tuk tuk-able” to Belarusian theories of infectious disease control (Stop eating bananas!) and having 9-year olds clear up misconceptions about the birds and the bees (“Uncle Larry…sure…let me explain what happens….first ….”).

We rounded out our last day in Cambodia’s capital with learning more recent history; a visit to S21 prison and the near-by killing fields. The kids did remarkable taking it all in and processing it together; certainly no easy feat for anyone, let alone kids. 

And then before anyone knew it, our time in Cambodia was up and we headed back to Taipei to earn our homeschooling credentials. 

A few final thoughts on resources if you’re considering taking kids to Cambodia – all of which brought the country’s culture and recent history a bit more clearly into perspective.

For instance, check out this fun and interactive explorer guide for kids. The kids also liked reading a short mystery about Angkor Wat and Icy Smith’s kid-friendly book about Cambodia’s genocide. 

And finally, if traveling to Siem Reap with kids, we all really loved our evening at the Phare Circus as well as the outing at the Landmine museum – both are NGOs that support people in need; a good starting point to talk with kids about non-profits, poverty, and education, among all those other fun topics. 

And now back to class; homeschooling recess has already gone on for too long! And please, if you read this, send wine (and patience) my way because the shenanigans certainly won’t stop anytime soon.

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