Sunday, December 23, 2012

Traveling to Kampong Speu...With 30 of My Closest Friends

Dragon fruit
This little girl just wanted to touch
Shannon's beautiful skin.
One of our seatmates on the van ride
This morning started with a quick shopping trip to get the final supplies for the Christmas dinner I will be cooking in Les' town, Kampong Speu and then off to catch a van to take us there...loaded with all of our holiday surprises. Within my luggage is a surprise gingerbread house making kit and I think that the biggest surprise will be if any of the cookies made it 9,500 miles intact.
At the market in Kampong Speu...

We were lucky to be some of the first people to get into the van which waited until it was full to leave. I learned that the answer to the question, "how many people can fit into a minivan?" is..."one more." And, one more and one more and one more again.

Les' bread lady
 Between the three of us we came to the closest consensus at thirty people - quite an experience considering the van was not air-conditioned during our two hour ride. But the price was right, we had to pay for an extra person because we had so much luggage and the entire trip cost $6 USD - so I guess it all balanced out. Our luggage was tied into the van and the scenery along the way kept us entertained along with the music videos playing from the DVD in the front.
The dreaded durian

Once in Kamping Speu we checking into the Golden House on the National Highway and were told that the elevator was not working, which didn't break my heart since I have huge reservations about getting into an elevator in countries where the electricity may not be stable - I have been stuck more than once in elevators when the electricity went out...NOT a pleasant experience at the time, but a great story later!

We have rented bikes locally and get a chance to meet some of Les' friends. But the real highlight of the day was spending time with his host family...cooking, laughing telling stories using a lot of international charades, teaching each other words from our respective languages and just spending some high quality time with family. Shannon's Khmer language skills are earning her high marks with all.
A delicious rice and coconut cake
cooked in banana leaves
This is our transportation

We had the best Khmer Curry Noodles and tomorrow I am taking a trip to the market to learn about all of the ingredients and to stock up for my cooking lesson tomorrow. Their hospitality has been second to none and spending time with them has given me an opportunity to talk with native Cambodians and really learn so much about the culture, people and history. We are so fortunate to have this opportunity.

 Back to our hotel for a Christmas surprise...in more ways than one...all of the  gingerbread cookies made it and the next session of fun begins as Les and Shannon build, decorate and eat the gingerbread houses. Enjoy the pictures and as always...bringing food and travel from my table to yours...no matter where those tables may be.













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