A helicopter ride to visit hospital ship USNS Mercy in Sihanoukville


August 05, 2012
From right to left: me, a U.S. navy military and my friend Kounila Keo

Early this month I got an important call from the U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh inviting me to join half a dozen of bloggers for a trip to Kampong Som province (Sihanoukville).

I was told it’s going to be a day-long visit from Phnom Penh the capital city to the beach towns, which includes Koh Kong, a south-western province of Cambodia. I accepted the phone call invite immediately. I thought this doesn’t happen every year.

This arrangement by the embassy is quite ambitious and unique. Seven Cambodian bloggers invited to tour USNS Mercy, a hospital ship from San Diego, California. Before long, this kind of visit has been organized for mainstream journalists. So bloggers now take the turn!

It’s exciting for me. I told my mother about this trip just a few days before the trip. She asked me whether I find this scary or not. I said ‘no’. I felt no fear in me when the helicopter was taking off or landing. Before getting into Helo (the name of the helicopter), there was a brief and demonstration about safety and precaution to take should there be any accident. I felt assured by the the U.S. navy military that ‘today is going to be okay’. Everything was just amazing, I felt.

After about 45 minutes looking at Cambodian landscape from the above, we landed safely on the 272 m long ship that carries the Pacific Partnership mission crews. There are a lot of photographs here on Flickr and here.


The US helicopter at International Airport, Pochentong Air Base


On USNS Mercy the ship after 45 minutes ride from Phnom Penh. As planned, the helicopter landed on the ship. The Cloggers (from right to left) Phin Santel, Chap Chetra, Bon Sovathary, Keo Kounila, Dara Saoyuth, Norodom Soma,


Half a dozen of Cambodian bloggers get introduced to how Cambodian citizens have access to healthcare


A woman from Svay Rieng province received an operation of her eye

After lunch, we had a chance to meet the ship captain. I asked him when the ship was built.

Some more photographs here:

We returned to the airbase in Phnom Penh

Web links:
An Effective Military-to-Military Partnership
USNS Mercy Tour Part I
USNS Tour Part II
A VIP Tour of the USNS Mercy
A Tour To USNS Mercy Ship At Sihanoukville