December 21, 2009

Weekend Family Trip to Kep

From Friday morning through Monday afternoon, the Graber Millers visited Kep, one of the locations for an SST Cambodia field trip. We’ll go with the student group the weekend of February 7 and 8 to both Kep and Rabbit Island, where we also visited.

The 3 1/2-hour trip to Kep was fascinating because we were able once again to see the Cambodian countryside, where students will be living on their service assignments. Other than that, the driving trip was bumpy (about half of the road was under construction) but relatively uneventful, save for one flat tire along the way.

We stayed at the Beach House, where we’ll also stay with our student group, and had several of our meals at the Veranda Hotel and Restaurant, which overlooks the sea. We’ll have a buffet breakfast with students at that hotel restaurant when we’re in Kep.

Most memorably, we spent all day Sunday at Rabbit Island, after ferrying out to the island in the Gulf of Thailand, about a half-hour off the coast of Kep. We invited Ren, our driver and a friend of Mennonite Central Committee workers, to accompany us out to the island, too. Mia and Simon loved playing in the sand and sea most of the day, while Ann and Keith lounged on mats or chairs and read novels. One striking sight that day was seeing a young girl with an IV in her arm walking down the beach, her mother holding the IV bottle over her head.

Also memorable from the day was eating enormous prawns pulled straight from the sea and grilled at the hut just beyond where we camped out for the day. The restaurant owner later pulled fresh crabs from the water just in front of us, preparing those for another patron.

The overall trip was partly to take a break, partly to have a mini-vacation with the kids, and partly to prepare for our trip to the Beach House and Rabbit Island with students. It also was a chance to celebrate Niles’ 18th birthday (December 21) … though Niles isn’t yet in Cambodia with the rest of the family. He’s spending the Christmas holidays with his Graber grandparents in Puerto Rico, so Happy 18th Birthday today, Niles!

Marya and Keith now have most of the lectures in place, and we’ve just begun working on service assignments, too. The Graber Millers are looking forward to our students’ arrival on January 8: the initial hotel is set, we’re meeting many of the families, along with Sreyhem Roberts, Tuesday, and other details are falling into place. Hope you all have a lovely and blessed Christmas holiday.

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