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My new life begins at LAX a journal of my 3 months living and working in Phnom Penh, and beyond.

My quick trip to America

CAMBODIA | Thursday, 1 January 2009 | Views [1569] | Comments [2]

12.29.08

Somewhere over the Pacific.

Authors Note:

This is probably the most boring blog ever. Basically it is just a giant list of things I did with very little reflection. But I felt I have done so much since my last post that I needed to put this up to explain the gap between my Cambodia posts and my Korea posts. Enjoy

Right now I am in in a overstuffed United Airlines Flight from LAX to Narita. I think I have about ten hours until I get to Tokyo. I’ll have a couple hours at Narita Airport then a 3 hour flight to Seoul. This is my 7th time crossing the Pacific. A few years ago the thought of spending 12 hours on a plane seemed like torture to me. Now I actually kind of enjoy these long flights. Usually the week before my flight is extremely hectic with various preparations for my travel. When I finally get to the day of the flight it is great, no more responsibilities or worries. For a several hours I just have to sit in one spot and wait. It’s a good chance to catch up on some reading or attempt a crossword puzzle. Usually on these long international flights there is a personal TV, and you can choose what movies you want to watch. But being that this is United there is none of that. There is one big screen, and they are playing Mamma Mia the movie, which I want nothing to do with. So this gives me a good opportunity to catch up on some blogging.

A lot has happened since my last blog entry from Cambodia, more than usual. There are about 3 or 4 entries I could have written, but I was just too busy to sit down and write any of them. Now I have nothing but time, although I know I could probably write for longer than my laptop's battery will allow. I will attempt to catch my blog up with the last 3 weeks of my life. I would like to finish this before I get to Korea, because I know things will be incredibly hectic once I get there and who knows when I will be able to do another post.

So when I last left off I had returned to Phnom Penh from the Half Marathon in Siem Reap. I spent my last few days in my favorite city on earth packing up and having a lot farewell drinks with friends. I was kind of stressed out about whether or not I would be able to bring my bicycle back to the States with me, but after all the worry and concern everything worked out. I tried to do a whole blog about all the hassles I had to go through to get that bike on the plane with me, but it ended up being way too long and pointless to finish or post.

When I was sitting in the Phnom Penh airport just over 2 weeks ago waiting for my flight I tried several times to write a farewell blog to Phnom Penh. It never came out right, and I figured I would get around to it later but never did. The point was this, I still love Cambodia. When I went there back in May, it was because it was my favorite Country I had ever visited. I was worried that by living in Cambodia for a longer period of time that it might lose the appeal that it had to me. I didn’t think Cambodia would be able to live up to my memories. However after spending nearly six months there I love Cambodia even more than ever. Originally I planned on staying longer, but things came up and I had to leave. It felt like I was leaving way too soon, it was the first time I was ever really sad to leave a place. It is still my favorite country (more than ever) and I know I will return.

The flight was uneventful. It was EVA and much more comfortable that this United flight I am on now. We stopped in Taipei. It was probably the 4th or 5th time I have been in that Airport. Someday I would like to get out of it and see Taiwan. On the flight from Taipei to LAX I sat next to a Cambodian man who lived through the Khmer Rouge, and later became a refugee in Thailand, and is now a US citizen. His story was pretty powerful. We only talked about his experiences for a short while, but it made the Cambodia’s brutal history seem a lot more personal, and terrible to me.

When I arrived in LA and got off the plane the first thing I noticed was how clean the air was. That tells you how polluted the air is in Phnom Penh. I went to the place where I reserved my rental car. Waited in line for an hour, then I was told they wouldn't give me my car. Thanks again Fox Rent-A-Car. Not exactly what I wanted to hear after traveling about 20 hours to get to LA. My parents were at a Christmas party, I didn’t have a cell phone and there weren’t any pay phones near by. I was screwed. Luckily while I was waiting in line I met a British guy who told me he was driving to Oceanside. When he got his car I asked him if he could drop me off in OC and he obliged.

That night after a much needed shower and a nap, Arthur picked me up and we met the rest of the guys at a bar in Santa Ana. It was good to see the crew. Arthur and Raf looked exactly the same. Norton grew a proud and grizzly beard. Danny got rid of his long flowing hair and his beard, as Norton said he looked like "Walt Disney’s son" with his pompadour and mustache. It was good to catch up with my old friends. Perfect size crew. I was able to talk to all of them and do a good job of catching up. That night I stayed at Arthurs parents house and the next day I went to Arthurs newly purchased house, and helped out with the remodling job he and his old man have been working on. That night I came home and finally saw my parents.

On Monday I got a sweet rental Impala which I kept for a week. I stopped into Printworks (my old work) and caught up with John, Hoang, Glen and the rest of the crew. That first week I spent a lot of time running errands in my gold impala. I had to secure several documents for a work visa in Korea, not to mention do all my Christmas shopping.

On Tuesday my sister Emily flew in and it was good to see her for a few days. She would be spending Christmas in Pittsburgh with her husband, but she wanted to come out and see the family during the holiday season.

My parents house was a construction zone while I was there. The downstairs bathroom was ripped apart, and only one shower in the house had hot water so we were all sharing. My Dad also had a couple of projects he wanted me to work on around the house. He wanted me to dig all the dirt out of one of the planters. There was a lot of rain, so it was difficult to find time when I could dig.

Friday night I went to LAX to pick up the beautiful Marlene, who was flying in from New York. I wanted to take her up to the Big Bear but that fell through so we decided on Vegas. I had never driven to Vegas from LA, and I missed the turn off for the 15, then got some bad directions from a guy at a gas stations. Long story short, we ended up staying in Lake Havasu the first night. We made it to Vegas the next day. It was a really great weekend and it ended all to fast. We spent most of the weekend driving around (lost), but it never seemed to matter, we both enjoyed ourselves. When we retunred sunday evening I took here to LAX for her evening flight back to NY, can‘t wait till we meet up again.

When I went back to my parents house my other sister Sarah had arrived. Emily was supposed to have left that morning but they cancelled her flight and she was spending an extra night in OC.

That week it was dry so I did a lot of digging. They also had some work for me at Printworks so I came in a couple days to stuff envelopes and bind books. Christmas eve the family spent at Grandpa Franks house. Christmas day we stayed home opened presents and went to the theater to see Benjamin Button (very good) in the afternoon.

The day after Christmas I rented a truck to haul all the dirt I had dug up to the dump off the Ortega Highway. I had never been to the dump before, it’s a lot different from the Steung Menchey dump in Phnom Penh. I had never seen so many Seagulls in my life. It took 2 trips to get rid of all the dirt. All totaled up I had dug out about 3 tons of dirt.

That night I met up with Robert for a Tofu Mushroom Burger at Taco Loco. Last time I saw him was Christmas last year when he was visiting his Mother. It’s good to have friends that you can see once a year and talk to without it seeming forced.

Later that night I was supposed to meet up with the guys at the Santa Ana bars again. I had about a half an hour to kill and I decided to swing by my old dojo, the Laguna Hills Skate Park, this sight of much pleasure, pain and about 5 helmet violation tickets. One of the things I was really looking forward to about coming back to America was skating. Now here I was a few days before leaving and it was my first time to the park. I was so busy the whole time I was there I never even had the time (not to mention all the rain). Being on the familiar terrain felt good. I have the park so dialed in I could skate with my eyes closed. Even after 6 months without skating I still had my lines. Although I was a little rusty and wobbly it felt really good doing 50-50’s on my favorite section of the copping in the bowl. I wasn’t even warmed up by the time I had to leave.

It was good seeing the boys again, I only stayed out for a short while though because I knew I had a lot to do the next day.

Saturday was supposed to be my last full day in CA and I had to pack and meet up with a notary in Oceanside to get my criminal background check apostilled for my Korean Visa. The weather was good so I decided to take my motorcycle which has been in storage at printwork for the last 6 months. I almost couldn’t get the beast to start but finally it kicked over. The ride to Oceanside was very cold. I had a little more time to kill in the evening and stopped my Laguna Hills for another quick session in the bowl.

In the evening I went to a UFC party. Not really because I’m into MMA but it was my last night in OC and a couple of my friends who I hadn’t seen would be there. Went home shortly after the last fight.

Got up early the next morning, finished my packing and went to LAX. I got to the airport plenty early but there was a ton of problems and they couldn’t get me on my flight. Another long story about hassles that isn’t worth writing about. They ended up giving me a hotel voucher and I stayed the night in LA. I went into my duffel bag and put my skateboard together cruised around the city for a bit. Then I met up with Meghan and saw Slumdog Millionaire.

This morning things worked out much better at LAX. I got on my flight with no problems. I wasn’t too pissed about missing my flight yesterday. I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to get to Korea anyways, and my free day in LA was a good one.

So that pretty much catches me up to this point. On the plane somewhere between here and there. Mamma Mia is finished and now there is a Brendan Frasher Movie playing in the plane, and I‘m still not interested. My stay in CA went way too quick, I was busy the majority of the time there was very little down time. I was able to seem most my friends which was good. I feel like it would have been nice to have stayed another week but oh well, I’ll be back.

I was so busy the whole time I was there I didn’t have much time to reflect on reverse culture shock, or how I have changed since being gone. There were a few reminders here and there of why I left. I’m not sure if I can ever see myself living in Southern CA again. The only thing that So Cal has for me is friends and family (and the Angels during baseball season). I have always felt out of step in OC, and I think it is time for a change of scenery the next time I live in the States.

Another thing that I haven’t had much time to think about it what lays ahead for me in Korea. I decided to go to Korea, because I need to save a bit of money, and I heard it is a good place to work for ESL Teachers. Luckily I have a friend who will be able to help me out a bit once I get there, but I really have no idea what is in store for me. I guess it should make for some interesting blogs.

Tags: america, cambodia, flight, korea

 

Comments

1

Yea! great weekend! the next time I will bring the map ;) me too can‘t wait till we meet up again.

  Marlene Jan 4, 2009 7:26 PM

2

when you left cambodia did you have issues with customs making sure you had traveling money.. is this common

  joni May 29, 2010 7:53 PM

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