Cambodia: Beauty Behind the Tourism

Cambodia: Beauty Behind the Tourism

When you think of the beautiful country of Cambodia, you may picture great and ancient temples, such as Angkor Wat and Baksei Chamkrong. You may picture the beautiful and glamorous hotels and city scenes. But, have you ever seen the culture and the history behind the tourism? Through the eyes of a native, you can get a glimpse of everyday Cambodian culture. Tep Sokhom, a young adult from Battambang province, now a resident of Phnom Penh, shares her experience and love for her native country. Life in the Province Before visiting the United States in 2014, Sokhom would travel to work as a card dealer in a casino in the neighboring country of Thailand. She now works as an assistant English teacher in an international school in Phnom Penh. Sokhom takes her red Honda Wave RSX motorcycle, which she calls a “moto,” to work every day. She describes how dirty her mode of transportation is due to the muddy street puddles from the city’s extremely rainy weather. Because of the excess amount of rain, the house that Tep Sokhom was raised in was built on a structure that was lifted off the ground. All of her family members, as part of their nighttime ritual, would climb through their mosquito nets into bed to avoid being bitten during the night. Young Sokhom grew up without a refrigerator in her home. She, along with many other Cambodian families, went to the market every morning to gather the necessary perishable foods for the day. To this day, to preserve cooked meats and other foods for the next day, Sokhom will usually coat...
Tales from the Trip: Winter 2016

Tales from the Trip: Winter 2016

A Ticky Situation Have you ever been so tired from a trip that when you say “thank you” in Spanish, you realize you’re actually in France? Or get yelled at by Patrick Stewart when he’s on stage? Traveling through Europe, my mom and I found that too many things went wrong, but I learned only one thing that has stuck with me ever since. My mom and I were completely exhausted when we got to our room. Earlier, we had a panic when one of the girls in our group found a tick in her belly button! Mass terror unleashed as we checked ourselves! Apparently, I didn’t get the memo. I didn’t even think to check—I was completely covered from head to foot by my rain gear. Why should I have one? “Hey mom, how do you find ticks?” I was presumptuous. “They like to nestle in the crook of your arm, behind the knees . . . ” She trailed off from the bathroom. I looked at my left arm, staying rather calm. In the clear. I slowly looked at my right. “Ha! Looks like I’m tick fre—MOM!!!!!!!” Tickling my vein was the most unholy creature of all the unholiest. I swear it squirmed. Oh gosh, I thought, I’d rather get kissed by the Irish drunk again. The image of this heathen being gutted out by a tweezer made me scream. Running to the bathroom, I stopped short. “Oh man, you too?” “I have two. One is . . .” she looked at me in horror and whispered, “on my butt.” My first reaction was pity . ....
Tales from the Trip: Spring 2015

Tales from the Trip: Spring 2015

The Mountain and the Suitcase Growing up in Texas doesn’t give you a lot of experience with hiking enormous mountains, but my brother Jeremy and I were excited to hike Utah’s Mount Timpanogos (11,752 feet) one night in mid-October 2007. Hiking with us was a guy named Jeff, whose climbing pack was actually a rolling suitcase. About two hours into the strenuous hike, snow began to cover the trail. We didn’t worry—being careful not to slip, we climbed on. But after another hour of climbing, the trail disappeared under deep snow. Realizing that we might take a nasty fall if we tried to hike down the mountain, we continued to climb. Jeff’s rolling suitcase struggled through the snow, and after an exhausting 20 minutes, we were excited to find a good place to camp for the night. Around 6:30 am, Jeremy and I found Jeff shivering uncontrollably. He hadn’t changed out of his wet clothes when we’d settled into camp, and he’d been cold and wet all night. Extreme cold isn’t something you see much in Texas, but we knew that Jeff was in serious danger and might have hypothermia, so we contacted Search and Rescue. Two teams were sent out to find us, but either the snow had gotten too deep or the Abominable Snowman ate them, because we never saw them. Fortunately, members of a volunteer emergency response team were close by and bumped into us. They helped Jeff down the mountain while Jeremy and I hiked behind, carrying Jeff’s rolling suitcase. It was great fun, but after an hour of sinking knee-deep into the snow because...

Tales from the Trip: Winter 2015

Rejuvenation “You don’t have to do it!” my mother yelled to me. I stared down at the blue water tugging my ankles toward the cliff, which at that point became a stunning thirty-foot waterfall. A chill vibrated through my entire body, but it wasn’t caused by the cold water. We had hiked ten miles through a red canyon in Arizona to Havasupai , a Native American preserve. We camped under brilliant stars at night and visited astonishing waterfalls during the day. Unsatisfied by those experiences, I still had the urgent desire to jump off this cliff, just as I had seen others do when we first entered the preserve. This desire drove me to this moment, following the cautious steps of my father on the rocky footholds and ignoring my mother’s comment. I did have to do this. The closeness of the edge unsettled me as the water’s roar grew in volume. The sound reminded me of a different cliff jump I had attempted but didn’t accomplish. The wrenching fear in my gut gave way to my resolve. This exhilarating opportunity had to be seized. “Make sure you jump here,” my father reminded me, and a moment later he bounded through the air. I watched frightfully as he plunged into the water and popped back up a few seconds later. Ominous clouds blanketed the sky above, as though gathering to see if I would really do it. Taking a steadying breath and looking straight forward, I realized that if I did not jump now it might not happen. The butterflies in my stomach were becoming too intense, nearly paralyzing...

Tales from the Trip: Summer 2014

In the Heart of the Volcano “All right, it looks like everyone wants to try the upper cave,” said my mother. Her voice echoed discomfortingly off of the dank subterranean walls. Great, I thought, knowing that meant we would be taking the longer, more treacherous course. I, the younger sister, didn’t get to participate in the vote because I was simply tagging along with my brother’s Scout troop to the Ape Caves at Mount St. Helens, a dormant volcano in Washington. Of course my older brother and his friends would pick the harder, scarier course. The pamphlet we had picked up on the way into the 2,000-year-old lava tubes boasted of several grim-sounding obstacles in the mile-and-a-half-long cave. While the shorter course had boulders to hike over and narrow parts of the cave to deal with, the longer course sounded like the big leagues to me. Although the upper cave would begin as a large, auditorium-sized space, we would quickly encounter a path so narrowed by rock piles that scooting on hands and knees would be the only option. At one point, there would even be hardened lava falls—eight feet high—and scaling them would be our only option forward. To my timid mind and short body, this path sounded like Mt. Everest. Sure enough, soon after we passed the beautiful, wonderful open space of the chamber, the walls narrowed and we came upon a towering mound of rocks. Fighting back the panic and gritting my teeth, I slithered through the first of several long, bumpy crawl spaces. When we reached the lava fall, eight feet seemed a lot taller...
Tales from the Trip Fall 2013

Tales from the Trip Fall 2013

Lost in Tokyo Only my sheer terror could distract me from the excruciating pain I was experiencing. I was only six years old, was alone on a train, and was hardly able to breathe because I was surrounded by strangers. And my fingers were stuck in the train door—the result of my impulse to reach for my father when I realized he wasn’t going to make it onto the train with me. Looking out the window, I could see that he was getting further and further away. In my mind, the Japanese passengers had no reason to care how this played out for me. These fears were confirmed as I helplessly tried to remove my fingers from the door of the train and the swarm of bodies prevented me from accomplishing anything. But suddenly three men pried open the doors of the moving train. I was immediately yanked away from the door as it quickly slammed shut again. Strong arms were firmly grasping me from all directions. Gentle hands lightly touched my bruised hands to inspect them for damage. The train stopped, and I heard the doors swoop open. Several people pulled me off the train, and then they shuffled back on—all except one middle-aged, average-sized man. Placing his arm on my shoulder, he looked intensely into my eyes. He was speaking so fast and obviously wanted me to understand what he was saying, but I couldn’t. I tried to get back on the train, but he pulled me away from the door. The doors shut, and the train sped away. The man just stood there on the platform....