Too tired to take advantage of my extended layover I spent the afternoon in the airport at Phnom Penh. The drivers quickly stopped asking me if I needed a ride to the city when I politely resisted enough times. There was plenty of real business to be had from the other tourists getting off their planes. I was left to read my book and watch the people make their way.
Periodically large groups of Khmer would gather near the arrival gates. They stood quietly talking and looking anxiously towards the sunny walkway that led to the street. There were parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and small children. All neatly dressed. Their expressions would quickly turn to excitement when they saw their family member or good friend. They did not hug but the group would gather around smiling at their prodigal.
When I switched locations to the departure gates similar groups could be seen standing a vantage point where their loved ones could see them wave goodbye as the escalator took travelers to the planes. It was very touching to see the care that went into the departures and arrivals. It made me terribly homesick. Coming on this trip means I do not know when I will welcomed back by people of my own.
Of course, they won’t come to the airport to greet me. It is not our way. One person will take on that task and everyone else will be at home. There will be hugs and possibly some tears.