Thursday, July 21, 2011

Outside the City

Well, we accompanied Stephen to Cambodia's most famous beach town, Sihanoukville. It's a popular tourist destination for both Cambodians and ex-patriots. Sadly, that makes it a place that IJM has to do lots of work. Stephen had to help with a trial here and we decided we could make a weekend of it and go along. We took a bus. That in itself was quite a journey. I figure I'll write about that first. I haven't even seen the beach yet. There's a monsoon going on so we're stuck in the room for a couple hours.

But I did experience the bus ride and have a lot to share, mostly in photos. It was good for me to see this part of the countryside as we've been in the capital city since we got here. Let me share it with you.

We could have taken this bus. It's a 4 hour ride. This one is $5 for the whole trip.

But this one is much nicer and only $7. It's mostly nicer because it has a bathroom. We decided to use it instead. The Mekong Express Limousine Bus!

But why is it so HIGH off the ground? Because the part underneath holds our bags... and motorcycles too! Wow! (oops - I can't get this to flip the right way... keeps going back... oh well, just turn you head!)

And it was a fancy ride! Here's us (minus the missing photographer) getting ready to leave.

They even served food and drink on the bus for no charge. Airplane tickets cost a LOT more and hardly do that these days!

It was yummy! Bread filled with dried mangoes. He called them mango-raisins and kept saying "I sure do love mango-raisins!"

As we started to get outside of the city, we saw a lot of rice fields and other crops. We saw a ton of cows. Most were walking and eating on the road or just to the side of it. Some even had leashes on and people were walking them. It was pretty sad because they were some of the skinniest cow's I've ever seen. The kids walking them looked small and frail, too. Many of them were totally naked. One time I saw a girl about 2-3 just sitting on a cow riding it. No reins for steering, nothing, but just riding it as it walked. Like I said, the drive was very educational for me. And very sad.

Here's a cow. Not even close to the skinniest one I saw, but I didn't have my camera out the whole time.

Along the road it would sometimes open up to small communities or villages and a market would be the center of the village. The market was always on the road. Here's a photo of one of the largest ones we saw, which is still quite a bit smaller than the markets of Phnom Penh. The big building near it is likely a factory or warehouse. We saw lots of those just outside the city, where this was.

And the villages:

They just throw trash in the ditch by the road and even had little shops and homes right on these ditches filled with trash.

Really, there were times I just had to look away. I had a silly 2 year old next to me making me laugh or else I'd have been crying for sure. These people have so little. They'll never know what it's like to live in a place like America. And I know America isn't perfect, but I think it's worlds better than this! Many children don't go to school because they have to work all day at home. And all that means is that their next generation will be no better than this one. I pray for these little ones who are the future of this country, this whole region of SE Asia. I pray that they are blessed in ways they can never imagine. I know that's a big request, but I serve a BIG GOD. There are a lot of NGOs (Non-Governement Organizations) from all over the world helping this place become better. It can be done. Please pray with us.

And speaking of praying, there was another interesting part of the trip. The driver of the bus stopped twice, and what we understand from what was said (and read in our books) is that he was paying respects to either gods or Buddha at temples like this. They often pay money or food with prayers for safe travel. Our driver did this and here's where:

We passed lots of temples with elephants at the gate, a golden arch, and a big temple down the road.

And then we saw mountains. Didn't know there were mountains out here. And there was no civilization near the mountains except where little river streams passed through. At those there would be tiny clusters of homes of fishermen.

And yes, the part with the mountains was beautiful. The whole drive was beautiful because of the way it stirred my heart. I truly did close my eyes and pray for these people and I hope you do the same. Out in the remote villages the people occasionally get newspapers or see posters of the big city of Phnom Penh. Some go there seeking a better life, or they send their children in hopes they will find a better life there. Too often this is not the case, and they end up in dangerous jobs and dangerous places. That's why we are here. Please remember IJM in your prayers. They truly are doing God's work, helping the voiceless.

And yes, I'll send photos of the beach soon if it ever stops raining waterfalls of hot, steamy, rain!

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