Houses standing high on stilts against a backdrop of lush green fields and brilliant blue sky. The deep cracks in the dry earth where rice once grew and will grow again. Joyful song in the house church accompanied by guitar and lots of clapping. A whiff of plumeria on the breeze. Walking barefoot across the hard and springy rattan slats of the home’s floor. Iced coffee with sugar and milk at the roadside restaurant in Ban Krum. A little horse wandering the beach along the Mekong. Incense burning at a wat (Buddhist temple) as we drive by. Haystacks piled high and standing tall alongside palm trees. Warm rice soaked in steaming broth. An old man laying in his hammock, wearing nothing but a krama (scarf) wrapped around his waist. A cool breeze on my neck. Dark skinned children diving into the Mekong with baskets at dusk, hunting for snails. A circle of men eating from their rice bowls on the floor of the house. Little hands raised proudly when the children knew the answer at English class. Explosive, childish laughter as we finish singing “Head and shoulders, knees and toes.” The feel of cool water being splashed on my face and neck, both sticky and gritty from sweat and blowing dust. Steaming noodles that spray drops of hot water on my face as I slurp them into my mouth. (Eating loudly is a compliment to the cook, Mom- I haven’t forgotten all of my manners!) The mother playing with my hair saying, “Sa’at! Beautiful!” Warm, sticky slices of mango at Li’s house. The sight of monks, robed in brilliant orange, walking from house to house begging food, as is their morning custom. Three little boys with big smiles and curious eyes looking down at me and Srey Lien as we built our sandcastle. The warm Mekong sand running through my fingers. Srey Lien’s laughter at my attempted Khmer. The sound of a cowbell tinkling as the cows are led home in the evening. Laughter as the men tell jokes after dinner. The reed mat and rattan floor beneath my back as I lie down for the night. Rain beating on the metal roof. The crows, cackles, croons, an calls of the farm animals in the morning.
There’s so much to take in. 🙂