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Greetings from New York! What a week it’s been. My last few days in Cambodia were perfection — plenty of work time surrounded by a city I am energized by. Though staying put in Phnom Penh for the full eight days I was in Cambodia was exactly what I needed for this trip, I was reminded how much I love this country and how ready I am to return and explore it again someday in the near future.

After saying goodbye to Southeast Asia and spending a full thirty six hours in transit, I arrived back in New York ready to unwind.  Less than three days later, and I’ve managed to squeeze in a dramatic day at a Manhattan ER, a morning at the Philadelphia marathon cheering on my big sister, and a night of being blown away by a completely unexpected Brooklyn birthday party. Surprise!

While the emergency room visit was not ideal, all is well that ends well. The short story is I looked in the mirror Saturday morning to find one of my pupils completely blown out, which I later learned is a sign of major neurological trauma. Or, as someone put it to me in terms I could understand, “pupil asymmetry is like a ‘brain is broken!’ alarm.” Which explains why the doctors took it so seriously when I walked panicked into the nearest emergency room. Yet my brain scans came back clean and as I was being discharged that evening, one doctor conceded that I was, and I quote, “a bit of an enigma.” Well thank you sir. I have several ex-boyfriends who would love to see that diagnosis in writing. But all in all, I can think of worse ways to spend a Saturday than snuggled in a hospital bed with a little sister I haven’t seen in five months.

And how happy I am for my eyesight and my functioning brain, as I would have hated to miss what came next. A mere half a day late, I caught the last train to Philly and woke up a few hours later to watch my big sister complete the Philadelphia marathon. I was so proud! And as I dragged my jetlagged and exhausted butt back to Brooklyn later that night, I was met with the ultimate jolt of energy — an apartment full of twenty of my nearest and dearest jumping out of the dark screaming “surprise!” Having already declared myself just about the luckiest girl on the planet for all the birthday love I felt earlier this month, it’s easy to say I was completely overwhelmed, and beyond touched. And extremely, eternally, grateful.

For traveling, and for coming back. For sisters and parents and friends and one spectacular cocker spaniel. For healthy brains and unhealthy birthday cakes. For all of it.

It’s good to be home.

Photo A

Phnom Penh RiversideAlong the Tonle Sap River.

Photo B

Handicap InternationalVisiting a prosthetics center outside Phnom Penh with my host Wes.

Photo C

Phnom Penh SunsetSunset over Cambodia.

Photo D

Cambodia Tuk TukKhmer pride.

Photo E

Flight to New YorkComing home.

Photo F

Surprise PartySurprise! Twenty five just keeps getting better.

Which photo is your favorite?

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43 Comments...
  • Rekha Devarapalli
    November 24 2014

    Hey Meihoukai,

    Glad to know you are fine. Warmest belated bday wishes to you 🙂

    Cheers,
    Rekha
    Rekha Devarapalli recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      Thanks Rekha. It was an interesting way to spend a Saturday!

  • glad to hear you’re ok Meihoukai.

    Photo C… Sunsets are always a winner and that’s a corker!
    Paula Through the Looking Glass recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      Thanks Paula… me too! It was definitely a bizarre thing to see in the mirror.

  • Andrea
    November 24 2014

    I love Cambodia! Photo A is lovely, all those pretty colors! 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      Ah, me too. Such a magical country!

  • Sonja at Breadcrumbs Guide
    November 24 2014

    OMG how scary! So glad you’re ok. We all need your eyes to stay functional 🙂

    Glad you’re getting some much needed time with family and your pup. Photo A is my favorite this time. I like the pastel roofs against the grey sky and water.
    Sonja at Breadcrumbs Guide recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      And lots more family and fur baby time coming up 🙂 Happy to be home!

  • Ashley
    November 24 2014

    That sounds like such a frightening ordeal, but I’m glad everything was ok! I’m a sucker for sunsets, so I choose Photo C!
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      They never get old, do they?! And it’s always a treat to watch one from the water.

  • Becky Hutner
    November 24 2014

    A! Lovely composition and colors.

    [email protected] your health scare. I too had a recent neurological concern but scans were clean. Very comforting to have the hard proof and at the same time puzzling when symptoms are unexplained??
    Becky Hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      Yeah, I feel you. Everyone around me was pretty celebratory and I was like, well… what is it?! This is the worst episode of House ever! They did give an explanation that I may have come into with a chemical with dilating properties and then touched my eye, but considering I definitely wasn’t handling any fertilizers or motion sickness patches that morning I was pretty unsatisfied with that answer.

  • Photo E for me. Although I may be deathly afraid of flying, there is nothing like the view from the window seat 🙂
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      My fear of flying comes and goes. Luckily these flights were turbulence and drama free!

  • Leah
    November 24 2014

    I’m agreeing with Katie on this one, Photo E! The view from above is always so stunning! And how lovely that your friends threw a surprise party! I’ve never once had a birthday surprise, can I have your friends? Kthx.
    Leah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      I think the reason I never have is because I always plan everything for myself — ha! But my little sis and my friends conspired for this one and they really got me good!

  • Miquel
    November 24 2014

    Wow that shot of the Cambodian sunset is amazing! But I do love that peek of American soil as well as I’ve been feeling a little homesick lately. It’s a toss up for me this week!
    Miquel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      I have to admit it does feel great to be home. But what you can’t see in that photo is how cold the air was when they opened that plane door!

  • Stef
    November 24 2014

    I’m going with Photo E, must be great to be back home.
    Stef recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      I am all swept up in the holiday spirit already, Stef! It indeed feels great.

  • tammyonthemove
    November 24 2014

    Aww, thse photos bring back many fond memories of my beloved Cambodia. I am glad you are ok. Take care of yourself!
    tammyonthemove recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      Thanks Tammy. I’ve been trying to give these eyes a rest for a while!

  • Emily
    November 24 2014

    Glad to hear everything seems to be fine! I’m going with Photo E this week. And what a wonderful surprise from your loved ones back home 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      I couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome. They are the best.

  • Justine
    November 25 2014

    I have to go with photo A this week. It’s such a great shot! How terrifying about your medical scare. I have would have freaked out had I looked in the mirror to see my pupil blown out. At least you were on familiar turf so you could run to the ER and get checked out. And good news that your scans came back clear! So they have no clue what caused it?
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      Well, six hours later they suggested I may have come into with a chemical with dilating properties and then touched my eye. However, considering I definitely wasn’t handling any fertilizers or motion sickness patches that morning I was pretty unsatisfied with that answer. Ah well… I guess I’ll never know for sure.

  • Wow – what an eventful week! So sorry to hear about your ER visit, I’m sure that eye/brain situation was a tough and stressful time, glad to hear that you are fine 🙂 My favourite photo this week has to be photo F – those golden ’25’ balloons are simply perfect and what a wonderful birthday surprise!
    Christie of The Butterfly Editions recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      Aren’t they fabulous?! I made my way Upstate today and I was so sad I couldn’t bring them with me… but with all my baggage I couldn’t handle another thing on the subway 🙂

  • Steve
    November 25 2014

    I am going for photo C. Loving the sunset photo. Have a good thanksgiving celebration.
    Steve recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      Thanks Steve! I think it’s my favorite holiday but then… I say that about all the holidays 🙂

  • wes
    November 25 2014

    Obviously b, but d is great.

    It’s a rehabilitation centre, not a prosthetics centre. I’m not much of a teacher 🙂

    Glad your brain is not broken.

    Wes.

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      I knew I’d mess something up. I’ll send you a draft to edit before I post anything else on the subject, ha.

  • Janice Stringer
    November 25 2014

    For some reason it was Photo E – Coming Home which actually made me feel a little emotional. Maybe your words ‘Coming home,’ says exactly what I’m feeling at the moment as I try and sort out my next move in life. 🙂
    Janice Stringer recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2014

      I know how that feels, Janice! Hopefully there will be a post published soon along those lines…

      • Janice Stringer
        November 25 2014

        Looking forward to reading that Meihoukai! 🙂
        Janice Stringer recently posted..

  • Annie
    November 25 2014

    Wow, that must have been one scary ER visit. I guess that’s the thing with traveling, you always get exotic bugs.

    As for the picture, B for me – it tells a story and is so significant!
    Annie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      Actually, they said it would have been something I was exposed to that morning — right back in the good ‘ol USA!

  • Sky
    November 25 2014

    Love C!

    Glad to know you’re okay – sounds like a scary way to start being back in the States!
    Sky recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      It was definitely a bit overwhelming! But hey, what’s life without a little excitement every once in a while…

  • Nika
    November 27 2014

    I’m going to Cambodia after Vietnam and I am so excited! It looks so good on the pictures, can’t wait to see it 🙂
    Nika recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      It is my absolute favorite country to travel through in Southeast Asia. Hope you have a fantastic trip!

  • Saskia
    November 28 2014

    I go with A!