Remembering My Bella


She was witty, likable, cute and one of its kind. I remembered the first day my wife brought her home, she was only two weeks old. Shy she was hidden in my closet as though the new home was strange and utterly abnormal of how she later be treated with love and care. Danny, my youngest son petted and shared with her a piece of ham and she licked his fingers and as though she knew she found a new brother she never knew.

We all loved her and we still do until that tragic day when Danny found her dead under a tree because of an irresponsible driver hit her. The tragic news came after I landed in South Korea on my way to Hanoi, Vietnam. She was only 1 and half years old. Danny sobbed when he spoke to me on the phone and I was heart broken as my tears streamed down my face. When I returned home from Hong Kong last weekend, it was hard to imagine that Bella was no longer with us.

As always, when I come home, Bella would always be the first one waiting for me at the front gate of our house. She licked my feet, my hands and jumped into my arms as though she misses me so much for being away. I missed those days when I sat in the backyard working on various projects, Bella was always there trying to cheer me up and she found ways as the little young thing she was pulling my legs and jumping on my laps.

As usual, my family would go and eat Asian Buffet just to catch up time when I was away from home. On the way back from the dinner, my wife started to sob and chokingly tries to tell me how much she misses her baby Bella. It was hard for her to let go something she dearly loves and how Bella was precious to all of us. How we miss Bella and how she was always treated like one of our own children. I burned incense to send her soul to be with God because we knew in spirit that she did not want to go so soon. I am also reminded that perhaps her death is like others, they happened for a reason. What would those reasons be I lingered? I only knew that she came in our lives and she brought us joy and happiness. Perhaps, the lord has better plans for her? RIP my beautiful Bella….

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VIP Treatment


Unexpected VIP treatment on United Airlines

I got up yesterday early in the morning as usual for my long trip away from home. The wind was calm and weather was cold and damp. I got to the check in counter only to be told by the ticketing agent that my connecting flight was incomplete. It took her nearly 40 minutes to find out that my travel agent did not do a complete update in the United Airlines systems. Well, I thought it was just another mishap. Waited to board the flight from Fresno to San Francisco as it was my first leg of the journey before a connecting flight to Tokyo, Japan then my eventual destination Manila, Philippines. Long and behold, the flight from Fresno to San Francisco was jam packed. It seemed things were going well as all passengers found their seats and the flight attendance did her usual welcome aboard announcement. As the door of the plane was beginning to close, the chief pilot announces that the flight was over weight. Never in my 25 years traveling across the globe that I have heard such a thing. He proceeds by asking for 7 volunteers to get off the plane to offset the weight. One by one, the volunteers gave up their seats. In doing so, the flight was delayed. I had a connecting flight to catch once I have arrived in San Francisco. With offloading of luggage and volunteers, I knew that I was already in trouble, not making my connecting flight to Tokyo, Japan. It also means that I will probably have to stay overnight in San Francisco for the next available flight to Asia. Finally, we were able to take off from Fresno and landed safely in San Francisco. As we were deplaning two nicely suited gentlemen waited with a placard that had my name written on it. I was stunned as they ushered me into the Mercedes Benz with fruits and welcome drinks. At this juncture, I had only 9 minutes to my next flight. If I had to walk from Domestic terminal to international terminal, it would require a minimum of 45 minutes. Like a scene out of Hollywood movies, the Mercedes Benz races across the run ways from one end to another, finally relieved to see the steps of my connecting flight to Tokyo, Japan. Well, with miracle along the way, I have made it safe and sound to my final destination.

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Life’s Unexpected Turns


Traveler’s Tale:
Essay on my recent trip to Asia:  Philippines, Thailand, Khmerland & Indonesia
(Feb. 16-26, 2016)

Well, it is another 5 hours to go before I get home. As I sit and contemplate on the many things I have seen and done during my recent trip to the Philippines, Thailand, Khmerland and Indonesia, I am at peace with myself. The journey had a rocky start at the beginning with a near missed flight out of San Francisco only to be saved by a well-coordinated team of good people at United Airlines. The sights and sounds of the Philippines assured me of a vibrant economy and a relentless populace longing for change. Diversity is what makes the Philippines a great nation. Thailand is my third home. The similarities in culture, language and custom make us brothers in many respects. Relationship between Khmerland and Thailand has not been perfect but as people we cherish the brotherly love and affection. Many Khmers take refuge and find comfort working and living in Thailand because the economic conditions are ripe and they can earn more compared to working at home. Economic migration in many instances is not by choice but born out of necessity. Khmerland has a special place in my heart. Economic progress has been slow, but it has promising future. Politically, it has its ups and downs where the ruling party still dominates the political scenes. Opposition has been sidelined and the political future of its leader is unpredictable. As for Indonesia, new leadership and many new policies implemented seemed to have positive and significant economic impacts. Infrastructure projects have been revived and seemed to be heading in the right direction. What struct me most was traffics have gotten better than before. Tragedy struck and we loss one of our own at Kawan Lama, Indonesia. I can still remember the fresh laughter, jokes and stories of the life after death shared by Anthony Thia at the lunch table the day before; only to witness that next day he passed away caused by a tragic hemorrhage. I attended his funeral dressing where I had the opportunity to console his wife whom I never knew until Anthony’s death. I conveyed my condolences to the family and shared my griefs with the relatives and friends of a dear friend. Life is a journey of endless sights, sounds, experiences, people come and gone. What remains is our never ending love for one another and how we ought to share a life with legacy of joy and compassion.

(In memory of Anthony Thia – Kawan Lama, Jakarta, Indonesia – Passed away on Feb. 25, 2016)

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24 Interludes of Life


This is dedicated to my wonderful friends who enrich my life with the treasure of their being. May your soul decisions always be made with your heart, and not with your emotions.

1. Don’t go for looks, they can deceive. Don’t go for wealth even that fades away. Go for someone who makes you smile.

2. There are moments in life when you really miss someone that you want to pick them up from your dreams and hug them. Hope you dream of that someone.

3. Dream what you want to dream, go where you want to go, be what you want to be, because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want in life.

4. May you have…Enough happiness to make you sweet
Enough trials to make you strong
Enough sorrow to keep you human
Enough hope to make you happy
And enough money to keep you comfortable.

5. When one door of happiness closes, another opens. But we often took so long at the closed door, that we don’t see the one which has been opened for us.

6. The best kind of friend is the one you could sit on a porch, swing with, never saying a word and then walk away feeling like that was the best conversation you’ve had.

7. It’s true that we don’t know what we’ve got until we lose it, but it’s also true that we don’t know what we’ve been missing until it arrives.

8. Always put yourself in other’s shoes. If you feel that it hurts you, it probably does hurt the person too.

9. A careless word may kindle a strife;
A cruel word may wreck a life
A timely word may level stress
A lovely word may heal and bless.

10. The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves and not to twist them with our own image, otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

11. The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything, they just make the most of everything that comes along the way.

12. Maybe God wants us to meet a few wrong people before meeting the right one so that when we finally meet the right person, we should know how to be grateful for that gift.

13. It takes a minute to have a crush on someone, an hour to like someone and a day to love someone, but it takes a lifetime to forget someone.

14. Happiness lies for those who cry, those who hurt, those who have searched and those who have tried. For only they can appreciate the importance of people who have touched their lives.

15. Love is when you take away the feeling, the passion, the romance and find out you still care for that person.

16. A sad thing about life is that when you meet someone who means a lot to you only to find out in the end that it was never bound to be and you just have to let go.

17. Love starts with a smile, develops with a kiss and ends with a tear.

18. Love comes to those who still hope even though they’ve been disappointed, to those who still believe even though they’ve been betrayed, need to love those who still love, even though they’ve been hurt before.

19. It hurts to love someone, and not to be loved in return but what is most painful is to love someone and never finds the courage to let the person know how you feel.

20. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past. You can’t go on well in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

21. Never say goodbye when you still want to try;
Never give up when you still feel you can take it;
Never say you don’t love that person anymore when you can’t let go.

22. Giving someone all your love is never an assurance that they’ll love you back. Don’t expect love in return, just wait for it to grow in their hearts but if it doesn’t, be content it grew in yours.

23. There are things you love to hear but you would never hear it from the person whom you would like to hear it from, but don’t be deaf to hear it from the person who says it with his heart.

24. When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life to the fullest so that when you die, you’re smiling and everyone around you is crying.

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Mischievous Love


How will I ever forget those days where so many memories were made? You and I so care free, untroubled by our pasts.  In the midst of a thousand storms, we were the lights.  Love so mischievous and concealed, nobody knew.  We were young then, imprudent perhaps, but  only you and I will ever know the truth that are kept between us.  Abruptly, we have gone our separate ways.  Was it destiny? Was it meant to be this way?  I never said goodbye and you cried many tears.  My heart forever torn, shattered by agony and defeat.  It was a dream shattered and guilt difficult to erase.  Yet they were mistakes, regrets and memories made.  And I know in my heart we shall be together once more.

As the world turns, as season changes, as leaves fall; I pray times and again for a renewed hope and a better day.  Will that day come sooner?  I can only wish that day will cease to answer my prayers.  Do you still remember that day when we rode together where promises were made?  It seems like yesterday, yet a couple of years have gone by.   I reminisced those cutely smiles on your face and those sweet and innocent touches.  I recounted those impeccable kisses in the backseat of a school bus.  I remembered those nights on the sandy beaches, just you and I in the warm summer water, opened seas and pushing waves.  You held me tight and I pulled you closer.  We touched and love was made.  Nothing in the world mattered because you and I were in our own realm.  We watched the shooting stars in the moon lit sky.  The moment was so beautiful, beyond perfect and simply breathtaking!  I whispered in your ears, wishing the moment to be everlasting?  I never wanted the days to cease and the nights to end.   Our love was so impeccable yet with so many barriers blocking our ways.  It was after all a forbidden love.  I can only wish those days will be perpetual once more.  Can we turn the clock back? It is this time again, I shall wait for that day to come once more?

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Dreaming for Khmerland


tratio.jpgThe river front once bustling with motorcycles and onlookers is now quiet. I find myself sitting all alone.  A moment of silence rouse by pigeons’ flapping wings as they take flight into the air.  They seemed to be fearful of my presence perhaps mistaking me for a hunter.

I find myself digging deep into my soul as I sit and contemplate about many tragic events that occurred here.  I am engulfed in despairs with tears streaming down my cheeks; yet I am still hopeful that future generations will be able to live better lives than I had.

The traumatized experiences that I had must never be repeated.  At the least, history has taught me that ideologies when practiced too extreme resulted in a generation lost.  Death and destruction succeeded and tormented memories scarred for life. Khmers have suffered and continue to be divided by dogmas of mistrust and revenge.  Reconciliation and healing are work in progress, but they are sacrifices that all Khmers must make for the sake of peace, unity and prosperity.

Khmers have come a long way as people, proud warriors, architects and builders of some of the world’s finest waterways, temples and landmarks.  Tainted by the creeds of colonialism, Khmers have seen a society fallen into destruction and miseries.  As a result, Khmer refugees are dispersed all over the world.  Fortunately, Khmer diaspora is helping to determine the fate of a nation that would have otherwise misplaced in the midst of continuous power struggle between various superpowers.

Political and economic divides continue to plaque as the ruling party continues to implement ineffective policies on corruptions, land grabs, judicial reforms and illegal immigration.  Despite the negativity, democracy is taking root.  There have been notable results shown in recent protests where Khmers become critical of their leaders and are no longer scared to speak out.  They have dared to challenge authorities and continue to voice their opinions and press for reforms.  Despite some setbacks as instigated by the ruling party in its unrelenting use of forces to suppress the oppositions; the future seems bright as Khmers continue to be engaged politically and socially for the sake of national development.  Surprisingly, Khmers have been more than ever before proactive politically, economically and socially.

Young Khmers have adapted and continue to embrace technological innovations to be exposed, politically involved and connected with people from all over the world.  They are bombarded with ideas, information and knowledge necessary to positively grow and compete in a competitive world.  Their activism will continue to fuel the momentum for positive changes in Khmerland.

Khmer leaders understand the importance of political freedom, social development and the economic growth that we have seen during the past 28 years.  Perhaps, some are fearful that it may have gone too fast.  Regardless of the fears, the train has left and on a long journey to new discoveries.  Khmers are not turning back.  The sudden brake will not be able to stop the moving train.  Perhaps, it is just slowing down so that it can refuel and self-reflect on the journey thus far.

The political deadlock must be resolved amicably for the good of both sides and for the sake of Khmer children.  Any future talks must not be put forth with conditions that are deemed non-negotiable for either side.  Fruitful negotiations require compromises and win-win solutions for both sides.  The time is now and it is incumbent upon Khmer leaders from both sides to come together and work through the problems and resolve their differences.  Atmosphere of trust, mutual respect and unity must be achieved for all sides to move positively forward.  Reconciliation is the key for democracy to thrive and for lasting peace to be achieved.

Written by:  Dara Udom