Our trip to the states was indeed fun! I drove our rental car all over the city, we ate out at our favorite restaurants, met and visited with family and friends, and generally enjoyed life in the Pacific Northwest. Of course the first few days we had to pile blankets on the bed and wear scarves in the house at all times.
Nothing was unexpected about our time in the states. It was when we stepped off the plane in Phnom Penh that we noticed new and unexpected things. Just outside the airport, it was wall to wall people. Some were even pressing their noses up to the glass. Stephen noticed many Khmer getting off the plane carrying US passports. He assumed that all those people waiting were there to greet relatives who fled the country during Pol Pot time or later and are returning now to be reunited after many years apart.
The heat and humidity we expected but not the strong tropical smells. We didn't realize just how used to them we had become before we left. The strong smells, so different from anything in the Pacific Northwest, triggered feelings of when we first arrived last July: for a brief moment I felt that twinge of trepidation that I felt in July about starting a new life in a completely foreign place. That wisp of a memory evaporated when we stepped into our now very familiar and comfortable apartment.
We have adjusted to life in the kingdom and easily slipped back into our routines of living here. I am almost constantly doing laundry, since air drying takes so much longer and we change our clothes a lot. But it's manageable. We walk to markets cautious of uneven sidewalks and a jumble of traffic. During the week of Khmer New Year we enjoyed the less populated city as a result of the traditional mass exodus of city dwellers to the countryside to visit family there. And early mornings are always better than later in the day. During out first couple of days of jet lag when we were wide awake at 4am, we took advantage of our not yet adjusted body clocks to walk around Phnom Penh before most people were out and about. Stephen went back to work and enjoyed seeing everyone in the office after the long break. And one evening we had dinner with all the staff at a "soup" restaurant to welcome the many new staff members.