After some of the best days in Laos, we flew from Vientiane to Phnom Penh, Cambodia where we immediately visited the Aspara Arts Association for a traditional dance performance before going to our hotel for the evening. The next morning we were privileged to have Bou Meng, only one of two living survivors from the prison SJ31 where tens of thousands of people were tortured before being set to the killing fields. It was an honor to hear his story and candid remarks about his experience and how he moved on from it is educating the next generations. This man is my forever hero for overcoming the absolute worst of humanity and coming through to the other side of joy and compassion. I also purchased a few of his books for friends to read as his story completely moved me and shook me to my core. Humanity can be so cruel to each other. Bou Meng is also an artist, and this talent helped him survive in the prison until it was shut down, as he was commissioned to make paintings of the leaders.
We arrived safely in Bangkok and were picked up at the airport by some staff members of the tour company we had signed up to do Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam with. When we had decided that we were going back to Malaysia, my mother concluded that she wanted to go to Cambodia as well as a life long goal and after the advice of several friends, we decided to go with a tour. A tour group has its pros and cons like anything, but we had an absolutely amazing time and loved getting to travel with a small group of fellow adventure and travel lovers. We also had an amazing guide and great in country guides as well that made the experience that much more beautiful. While I was the youngest on the trip, there was another young adult who had just graduated college and was with her grandma on the trip. I find that traveling with “older” people is way more fun and something that I would absolutely do again in a heartbeat.
After concluding my first year of college in early May and seeing friends off to the airport, I packed my bags and headed off to Malaysia with my dear Mother. Before entering college I had taken a gap year in Malaysia as a youth ambassador under the State Department and was ready to go back to visit friends and (host) families, while bringing my mother along for the ride. This trip was long waited and someday I will elaborate more on my experience in Malaysia before college.