After two long years of hiatus, Cambodia has finally opened its borders, especially with Thailand, since early this year. My first overseas trip was made for a medical checkup with my father, by a hired taxi from Phnom Penh to Surin, Thailand. My second trip was experienced with my extended family to Nakhorn Rachsima on Pchum Ben occasion, again by land. And my latest journey was organized by a digital rights organization for a Bangkok workshop with some fellows from Southeast Asia in last October. As this latter was more personal, come with me to rediscover my experiences, especially with the resumed flights!
1- Punctuality Still Matters
Of course, it was my first light in the last three years, after COVID19 travel bans. So I was so excited that I headed to the airport for an early checkin from Phnom Penh. As you can tell, no travel happens without hiccup. The first impression was how the customs officer rushed me up for the fingerprints! Well, partially, I didn’t realize my passport holder annoyed her most until I faced the same experience with the officer in Bangkok! The second one was quite embarrassing as I made a taxi compromise with my Cambodian fellow and checked in late from Bangkok for my flight!
The lesson here is, if I neglect time management, time will crush me down! (Luckily, Bangkok Airways was generous enough to postpone my flight without extra charge!)
2- Life Heals Itself Unexpectedly Fast
The hotel I was staying in is located in Chinatown of Bangkok, surrounded by Chinese-descent-run businesses. I managed to hang around for a couple of nights, once, with my Cambodian fellow and another time, with other Southeast Asian fellows. With these latter, we also went on to Khao San Road, well known for its night life, similar to Pub Street in Siem Reap. What surprised me most was how the drag show “lured” the curious crowd into the bar, opposite which we were sipping our rinks to “celebrate” Halloween!
What occurred to me was how vibrant these neighborhoods have turned since the pandemic “end”. This proves fast recovery of humanity as we’re willing to keep aside the past trauma (or may live with it) and move back on, with some hope.
3- Multinational Conversation Brings about new Perspectives
The workshop we were attending involved us with another seven fellows from other Southeast countries. They were all friendly, helpful and critical about what they’ve experienced on the topic we’re all working on. I was impressed with how the gender diversity got balanced, of course, with fair input and ideas.
Despite our different issues, at home, we share this mindset to support each other’s “security”, both digital and physical. With some afterwork getaways, we got to blend easily! That was when we explored each other better on both personal and cultural levels. And we’re excited to welcome each other in our own territories!
4- No Matter Where We Are, Keep (Inter)Connected!
Although the pandemic seemed to familiarize us with the online mode, that doesn’t mean we have to get rid of it completely. To cope with the aftermath, the virtual connection still counts, especially for overseas trips like this so our bondings with family remain “close”.
This should not stop us from networking with our fellows, as the borders have been re-opened, I believe, to allow us to feel humanely interconnected again and, above all, to trust each other anew.
All in all, the further we travel from home, the more carefully we prepare our trips. Yet, if our preparations fail to meet our expectations, let us simply ride the waves of change as long as we’re aware we can come out “alive”!