Second Time Around

As this will be my second time as a traveler to Cambodia, my anticipation is much different than what it was the first time I went. I am no longer afraid of the uncertainties of the trip (new foods, new smells, new places, new people) nor of the length of the trip (3 weeks seems too short!) Instead, I have spent my time wondering how I will perceive Cambodia for the second time. The beautiful little country stole a piece of my heart the first time, and I wonder what or which part it will steal away the second time. I wonder if I will see the people in a new way. I wonder if I will experience the culture from a new perspective. And I wonder if Angkor Wat will be just as impressive the second time around 🙂

Some things, I know will be the same. I will still spend the hours before my flight packing my suitcase. I will still love to try new foods and eat new things for the first time. I will still get frustrated at my ability to only retain 10-15 Khmer words at a time. And, I am sure, that there will still be only so many times that I can play “Crocodile oh my Croc, Croc, Croc” with kids at different organizations.

I look forward to bumpy bus rides and thrilling tuktuk adventures!

Alison DeRooy



Hey all,

This is probably going to read pretty closely to other intro posts, but that’s okay, right?

To say I’m really excited for Cambodia would probably be an understatement. I mean, it’s just plain exciting to travel in the first place, but on top of that, I’m certain it’s going to be an eye-opening trip, making it all the more special. I’d bet everyone else in the group feels pretty similarly.

That’s something that will be interesting for me though: seeing as I don’t attend Calvin College, I know less than five other people going on this trip. I guess all those travel hours can be used for something after all then, eh? At least, if we’re not all crazy after 20ish hours of confined travel.

Something I’m slightly worried about is the food, but it should be more than fine. College has taught me to eat a lot of questionable food, haha.

Well, I look forward to meeting those who are going on the trip, and I appreciate the thoughts and prayers of those following the blog from the States.

See y’all in a week,

Zac Baker


Wow! It is exciting and scary to think that we are leaving in 8 days!! That we are actually going to Cambodia – that in 8 days it will be a reality rather than something we have just talked and planned about.
Some things I am nervous about:
Will I like the food?
Will I be able to sleep on the flight? (I have been on an 8 hour one before and couldn’t sleep AT ALL – it was awful)
Will 3 weeks seem too short or too long?

Things I am excited about:
Getting to know all of the people on the trip
The new experience
Seeing what God has in store

God is going to do some great things on our trip, and while this trip may not be a breeze or easy, it will be good.

Jessalyn Valk

Sooo close

So our trip to Cambodia is just around the corner!

I’m excited to leave Grand Rapids behind and go see a place with a different culture, landscape, history, people and even climate than West Michigan.One of the things i am most looking forward to is the food especially the fried spiders. I am also looking forward to meeting people who are from a different walk of life then me. And I am very excited to see how God is working in Cambodia. I am also eager to see Cambodia’s scenery, whither its a busy city or quite rural areas. Although I am excited to experience a bit of Cambodia, I also have a few worries. For one I am NOT looking forward to being fused to my coach seat on Korean Air after our 17 hour flight. Second I am a little worried about the size of the group. In my experience we Calvin students stick out like a sheet of metal in the sun. So a large group though great for reminiscing about our shared experience may be a bit overwhelming-annoying for the local people.Third I am worried about the heat and humidity (ive never been a fan of either). Well that’s about all of them..i hope

All in all wither I am ready for this trip or not its coming up fast 🙂

see you guys at the flag pole

andrew rienstra


Sok Sabai-HI

I know Cambodia is still a few weeks off seeing as classes just ended on Friday, but to me it feels like Christmas, 7 work days, and a week in Thailand with one of my best friends. Then BAM I will be with my classmates learning along side them

I have been living vicariously through my friends study abroad pictures and blogs. Now I get to participate in one.

I am so frightened and excited. This seems like something from a dream.

My fears include:

1. Finding my way to the hotel without the group

2. Bartering with anyone who is trying to sell me something (from what I have read of last years blog in the cities this happens quite a bit.)

3. Forgetting something very crucial at home.

My goals for this trip:

1. Bring my backpack ONLY on this trip for the entire month. (I have been checking over my packing list for the last month to make sure it will all fit in my bag)

2. Learn something (this is my easy to hit goal)

3. I also want to learn some Khmer (Kuh-mai). I really love languages, but my first calling engineering makes it hard to study other languages.



2. seeing wonderful sights.

3. making friends with many new people (my favorite thing in the world is to meet new people and I know some faces but really I don’t know anybody going on this trip)

Finally I leave with a useful piece of advice from the last trip to Cambodia.

For those of you who may one day travel to a foreign country, print this blog out and memorize these steps which will grant you great success in your future bartering moments.

Number 1: Scope out the area. Browse among the shops and trinkets, keeping in mind who sells what and where. In this time, AVOID ALL EYE CONTACT!! Absolutely no pointing and touching…

Number 2: Slowly graze among the area and find something you would like to purchase. Let them approach you.

Number 3: Inquire about the price, but don’t let the words, “We have discount special for you” pull you in. (Don’t show too much interest in the item, for this shall surely drive up the price.)

Number 4: Counter offer their “discounted” price. This offer should often be 45-55% of the vendor’s first attempt to rip you off.

Number 5: The vendor will then proceed to say, “Oh lady, lady (or sir, sir), I lose money for that price (tisk, tisk, tisk, tisk noise)” Then proceed to drop eye contact with you. WARNING: hold your ground, maintain your ground and eye contact! Price will be lowered only a little, but don’t fear. There is more to come.

Number 6: Assess the situation and choose one of the following options:
Situation A: If vendor does not budge on price, say Ï will go to the lady over there where my friend went and get a better price.”
Situation B: Vendor dropped price, but it is still not as low as you would like. Repeat your initial price and say it is as high as you will go. Only in extreme situations, do you raise your maximum price by 5% more.
Situation C: If the vendor is insulted by your price, they will laugh, or yell at you for being crazy. In this rare situation, back up with your hands up, turn, and run.

Number 7: If the item was obtained at step 6, get out the agreed amount. Do not take out your wad of American dollars, but do this in secret. Pay the vendor, grab your item, and kindly thank your competitor. Walk away.

Number 8:If the vendor did no agree with your price, set item down and state that their price is too high and slowly walk away, keeping an open ear. The vendor usually gives in, and calls you back to the stand, saying ”ók, ok lady, I give to you.” Don’t be discouraged by her upset facial expression. If vendor does not call you back, do not worry, you can get the exact same item at the next stall. Repeat steps three through 8.

Congratulations! You have completed a successful bartering experience.

Some extra helpful tips and warnings:
1. Stay strong, dont give in, and don’t feel bad.
2. Buying in bulk can give you a bigger discount (Sam’s Club, Cambodian style)
3. Talk amongst your group before your adventure begins to get a relative price range.
4. Bartering is very exhausting. If you begin to feel fatigue, go back to your hotel and rest up. Begin in the early evening tomorrow.
5. Warning: these tips do not apply in the United States. Do not attempt any of these steps on a shopping spree at your local mall.

-Claire Phillippi