Our journey begins-January 2, 2019

Took the red eye out of Logan at 1:30 am, with 14 other “missionaries “and 34 additional suitcases of medical supplies plus our personal gear.

We booked economy premium on Cathay Pacific and Steve got us the bulkhead which was super comfy complete with a silky comforter . I took the good drugs and slept much of the 14 hours and 53 minute flight with breaks for the 3 course dinner , 2 movies and full breakfast. This is what drugged rest looks like:

Hong Kong is 13 hours ahead and Cambodia and the rest of our travels should be just 12 hours ahead of home. Yesterday when Laura was driving us to Fair Haven, VT I casually remarked, ” this time tomorrow we’ll be in Phnom Penh” and then laughed to realize that , “they are already this time tomorrow now”. Time is a bizarre concept.

We are indebted to our fearless leader, Dr. Dan Caloras . Organized, dedicated, detail jockey , good humortarian, and committed to service to the impoverished and medically compromised. The more hours we spent talking, listening to last year’s stories, reviewing details, whom we’ll meet and work with, the dignitaries that will visit us, sensitizes me to the depth of heart and seriousness of this mission. Once a year, this being the project’s third year, this Rotary group from Charlestown, NH partners with Phnom Penh Rotary to bring this mission to Takeo Province, one of the poorest in Cambodia. We will go into the jungle and set up the clinic in 6 different villages each of the 6 clinic days; breaking down and setting up, tables , pharmacy, “roping” the sections inside the pagoda for waiting and screening. 12 hour days diagnosing, triaging, standing, treating, cleaning. So far, as I understand it, Steve and Jim’s dental chairs are plastic lawn chairs. But for now, we hope to be met by Lan a Vietnamese woman friend of Dan’s who is connected to the Sight Hospital.

Another 12 hours have gone by since we landed. A busy time, 1 am on Sat and Steve asleep in our hotel of modest means in Phnom Penh.I’m hoping to get up at 5 to watch/participate in tai chi on the common before dawn. We have a good view from our hotel which has a “sky bar” on the tenth floor. The city is ringed by Tonle Sop , a huge long lake which goes way north into the Cambodian heartland and the Mekong river which goes north and meanders through Thailand, Myanmar,Lao and China and goes south of Phnom Penh into the Mekong Delta over 2700 miles altogether making it one of the longest rivers in the world. Did a little walk around the city. It is quite large with a mix of abundant markets, Tuk Tuks, motorcycles, ancient temples, garish lights, bill boards and food carts and a cute baby..I hope this blog thing is ok. Too tired now for anything more than sharing some sights. Actually I just moved into a new round of wakefulness but tai chi awaits…

The Longest Day before

Cleaning up the house, packing and repacking and everything still weighs the same. I’ve taken out the flashlite and replaced it with the headlamp. Taken out the dress and put in another shirt. Maybe I’ll put the dress back…The idea is to take it out and leave it out but I am torn between an ounce here or there and the “damn it, I am on vacation” excuse. I can no longer shoulder a large back pack which brings me to the wheeled suitcase. I’ve gone through so many pack-light sites that I think I need a packing mentor; a kind well traveled woman who can get me down to a couple of pounds of stuff and explain why I should let go of my warm scarf that has nurtured me on so many plane rides in the last 10 years. I know it will be crazy hot in SEA but it will be chilly on planes and buses and I love it like a favorite blanket. This is when the kind mentor just says,”No, you will not need it, I know this for a fact and it will get trashed”. So can I be that mentor for myself? I do think it would be an invaluable service for those of us who have trouble packing to places we’ve never been. It seems the sites are geared for the young of body. Half my suitcase is filled with medications and toiletries. I really cannot do without my facial routine and my foot got into trouble a few months ago and needs to be taped; another 1/2 pound of supplies. It goes on…

Nevertheless, the desk is cleared (though my hard drive was accidentally erased a few hours ago), laundry done, fridge barren, clean linen and timer set, friends ready to transport us to the next location where we meet a fellow traveler on the medical mission who will drive us to Charlestown, NH. There we go with the rest of the group and travel en masse to Logan to depart tomorrow night at 1:30 a.m. to Hong Kong and then to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Can’t believe it really is happening. Til the next time and I’m taking my scarf.

The Night Before the Trip

Sitting on my son’s bed trying to figure out how to write a blog. I’m leaving on a 3 month journey to Southeast Asia in a couple of days. The guide books are strewn on the table

I’m writing highlights not to miss in my journal, testing out which archival ink pen I want to bring, perseverating on which toiletries (a.k.a. creature comforts) I need to leave home . My suitcase is in varying stages of indecision and I’m coming down with a cold. Other than that, I’m aware I’m readying to embark on the longest travel I’ve done in 50 years. Yikes! I’d say the anxiety and excitement are about equal at this moment. Need to stop and make a hot toddy remedy.