I was in Phnom Penh when I thought that I should arrange for the whole family to fly to Cambodia for a 3 weeks holiday, which would cover Vietnam too. I had been away for coming to two years heading some business ventures in Indo-China. However, I travelled home quite often as the Group that I was working with was also running an airline with a twice weekly flight on the PNH-KUL route.
It was time to bring My Excellency and my 3 children (age then 11, 10 and 8 years) to my work place too. All this time, My Excellency had been minding the kids and my aged parents since I worked abroad. She too was working at that time and she had to be the Mother, Father and Guardian for the 3 growing kids and my parents at the same time. There were always the hectic chore of arranging the children’s classes and problems of kids playing truant, piano classes, tuition classes, parents gotten sick, car broke down, myriad of household problems and ensuring that the children did what they had to do. Most of the time, she would not tell me these problems on the phone until I was home. Bless her heart.
When I told my mother that I would be taking the kids and My Excellency to Cambodia and Vietnam for a 3 week trip, she was shocked. Cambodia was still a dangerous place to stay and even though I had been in-country for coming to two years, it was really fool-hardy. Anyway, I assured her that I had made all preparations, including plans for medevac, travel insurance, informing certain authorities way ahead that I may need help if trouble arose and drawing up a military-like itinerary, in case the fluid and somewhat tense political situation in Phnom Penh blew up again.
Naturally, I too had my own trepidations. I prayed and meditated for at least an hour in the morning when I awoke and just before bed time and to keep my mind unfettered I abstained from meat for 1 month and went on a vegetarian diet instead. My mind was constantly projecting positive thoughts and it was in such moments of clarity, I found peace, serenity and a quiet solace within my own self. In my prayer, I invoked my own mantra of “Glory be to those who have realized their own nature. May their blessings be with us all.” I prayed that no danger would befall my family and that we would never be caught in the wrong time and in the wrong place.
The school’s first term examination was getting near for the 3 children too. I told them to take leave from the school and if there was any problem I would call their Form Teacher. They were not to bring any school home work to Cambodia too, just dropped them completely. They would learn more in 3 weeks than their education back home in a classroom for a full year. This was also the first time that the children would be flying to a foreign country in an airplane.
So on a very hot shimmering day in April, they landed in Po Cheng Tong Airport, Phnom Penh.