Rumsky's Australasia Walkabout travel blog

Photo from the State Department flickr account!

New friend and FCC Quality Control Manager Elijiah in front of John...

John Kerry poses with FCC staff

Fabulous happy hour at the FCC overlooking the confluence of the Tonle...

How ridiculous is this? After a long, emotional day of sightseeing (including the Killing Fields and S21, a place of Khmer Rouge torture and murder), Fran and I decide to go to Happy Hour at the Foreign Correspondent's Club just across the street. We almost didn't go, being tired and somewhat overwhelmed, but decided a nice Happy Hour drink would help us digest all the horrors of the day. Too late and too tired to change or shower, we headed over, superpants and all. As we walked over, we noticed quite a few policemen on the street; clearly they were preparing for something. We sat by the railing on the top terrace of the FCC, a Phnom Penh institution where reporters, diplomats, and other famous foreigners hang out. The sunset view over the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers (yes, that same one that we took the dreaded boat in Battambang) was beautiful, with a lovely cool breeze blowing over us as I sipped my mango and Kampot pepper cocktail. After ordering our drinks, we noticed what had to be Secret Service agents from the US talking with the FCC staff. Something was clearly up but we had no idea what. Our waiter told us that the area was reserved for a private party so we would need to move to the back in a half hour. Fine! We did as we were told and once seated one along the terrace one floor from the top, a waitress came over and excitedly said that someone from the American President was coming. Who? She didn't know. The American President. Obama? Couldn't be. No, not Obama but someone. We heard something about Jim Kerry. What? All this excitement couldn't be over him. We began chatting with a Dutch couple who told us that they read that John Kerry was in town. "John Kerry!" I nearly fell off my seat. That changed things dramatically!

Happy hour ended, but of course, we ordered more drinks and decided to stick around. Who would come to the FCC? Things heated up on the street, lots of movement occurred, and Fran and I took two strategic positions along the terrace. Sure enough, who did we see emerge from a vehicle but John Kerry! I began shouting hello and running around, trying to get a good view. He then strolled right through where we were sitting! I ran right up to him and shook his hand, telling him that we voted for him. He smiled and thanked me. He then moved on, later chucking Fran on the shoulder before going upstairs to the rooftop. John Kerry! Our Secretary of State! Fran and I couldn't leave just yet, so we decided to eat dinner and basically stalk him. We knew he had to come down sooner or later, and there didn't appear to be any other exit! We proceeded to enjoy a fantastic meal and chatted with everyone around us, who were just as excited as we were. In the process, we met the house manager, Elijah, who later turned out to be a wonderful friend and contact. Sure enough, John Kerry eventually came BACK down and we got another good look at him. I even took a photo of him with the staff. Later when I bragged on facebook that I met John Kerry, Jason Marshall (the traveling family from India) asked me if I was wearing my backpacker clothes. You bet! It was a scroungy visit but that's how things work on the road!

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