At first, strange was fun, although airplane sickness is less fun. Meals that don’t include rice are not so fun either, but strange tastes are to be expected in an airplane, so they can be forgiven as a temporary deviation and not too much of a bother. The little tv’s on the backs of the seats are fun to play with, but the movies are not so interesting, but the picture of the little plane over a map of the world caught the magic of the moment. The 9 hour moment. After he fell asleep, I turned it off so it would be darker, and he woke up and turned it back on. Just having it there for reference was important, as if it expressed some truth about what he was doing right now, a reality of height and distance that was not evident in the noisy, black room with drawn blinds and the occasional turbulent shudder. I should have brought a map of the world with pins in Sydney, Cairns and Phnom Penh to help him maintain his perspective while he’s here.
We didn’t get much sleep on the plane, but Vannac isn’t one to complain or admit to tiredness. We met up with Sophie who is also here for the course—we left Phnom Penh at roughly the same time and arrived at almost exactly the same time, but on different airlines. The taxi ride into town was carefully documented on the telephone video camera, especially the lengthy tunnels that run for kilometers under the city. We arrived at Lucy’s house at around 7 am with a morning light casting gold all over the buildings across the turquoise harbour. Vannac’s first observation was a breathy “it’s beautiful.” One could almost have called it emotional.