The Beauty of Friends and a Tribute to Molly

(Kyle, Amy & Victoria)

One of my dear friends, Victoria, has been living in Singapore (and Hong Kong) for the last decade. Now that I’m living in the same region, we’ve been trying to figure out both when and where we could see one another. As luck would have it, I needed to fly to Phnom Penh to renew my Vietnamese Visa, which presented a wonderful opportunity for the two of us to meet in Cambodia.

(Amy & Vic at Russian Market)

Remarkably, it has been almost fifteen years since we’ve seen one another, yet it felt as if no time had passed as we immediately embraced and chatted as if we were together just yesterday. True friendships are ageless! We laughed and we cried as we caught up on each other’s lives. So much has happened over the years, yet the crux of who we are remains unchanged.


I cherished our time together, perusing designer boutiques and art galleries, dining at the Foreign Correspondence Club, exploring handicraft stalls at the Russian Market and admiring the beautiful Wats interspersed throughout the city.


Plus, we took full advantage of our quaint little hotel situated along the vibrant banks of the Tonle Sap. We had sundowners on the balcony (a lovely African tradition) while watching the world go by below.

(Amy & Vic at Udong)

We even took a tuk-tuk 41kms North of Phnom Penh to Udong, the ancient capital of Cambodia from the latter stages of the Khmer Empire. A number of kings were crowned here, including the current King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihamoni.

(Monks at Udong)

(Stupa at Udong)

(Monks at Udong)

(Selling hats at Udong)

And as an added bonus, my friend, Kyle, went out of his way to meet up with us daily! I still marvel how the two of us from Prairie Village, Kansas ended up living half way around the world! I feel so fortunate to not only reconnect with Kyle after all these years, but also to consider him a good friend. I absolutely adore him (and his family) and admire all that he has accomplished!

(Kyle’s Family)

By and large, the weekend invigorated my soul, especially since it’s been difficult to feel connected in Hanoi. I’m sure this will change in time, but for now I’ll continue to treasure quality time with dear friends.

traveling in style
(Traveling in style in Phnom Penh)

On a separate note, I feel compelled to pay tribute to Molly Ferguson Gottlieb as this 4th of July weekend marks the 10th anniversary of her untimely death. For those of you who don’t know, while attending a family gathering on Lake Travis, Molly went windsurfing, fell, and was subsequently run over by a boat.

(In Loving Memory of Molly Ferguson Gottlieb)

It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed; yet her memory, her spirit and her inner beauty continues to live within all who knew her. I still think of Molly often; I still hear her laugh, feel her energy, and miss her charming antics. Molly exuded warmth and a charisma that was infectious.

I’ll never forget the first time we met almost twenty years ago! I had recently moved to Austin and didn’t know a soul. One afternoon, she appeared on my front doorstep and asked if she could show me around town. We spent the day hiking along the greenbelt with her dog, Jake, kayaking on Lake Austin, eating Mexican food at Chuys and just appreciating each other’s company.

(Molly in Nepal)

I’ll never forget this kind gesture – of reaching out to a total stranger in a new city in order to make him/her feel welcome in his/her new home. Part of my love of Austin stems from this first encounter…she immediately placated all of my fears and anxieties about my move to Texas. More importantly, she let me know that I had a friend.

(Miss Molly)

Molly certainly had a knack for making people feel loved and wanted. Even though Molly was taken from us way too soon, I’m comforted knowing that she experienced life to the fullest and was surrounded by friends and family who truly loved her. Molly’s tragic death also serves as a reminder not to take life for granted. Even though we may feel safe in our daily routines, they don’t grant us immunity against life’s tragedies. Please hold your loved ones and let them know how you feel.

(I love and miss you…)

Be safe this holiday weekend.

Sending much love,

1 comment to The Beauty of Friends and a Tribute to Molly

  • Heather Gonzales (Oisten)

    I can’t believe I finally found a picture of Molly.

    My name in school was Heather Oisten,and I was good friends with Molly since 7th grade, and we saw each other for the last time when we were 17 in Juneau.

    I was devastated, and to this day I can’t let myself accept that she’s gone. She’s just in Texas still.

    God, I miss her so much and have never met anyone with her personality and energy. I am so, so happy to hear that her heart was full of love and she was all about love, happiness and goodness.

    I am so shaken and moved right now I can barely type. Thank you so much for putting my dear, long lost friend’s pictures up. I have been desperate for years to see photos of her, but did not have the heart to even contact her family.

    I live now in the Seattle area. I am deeply grateful to you and the love you had for her. I’m sure there are lots of us.

    You sound like an incredibly wonderful person, and I am so glad God put people like Molly and your family together.

    Please feel free to contact me anytime. Merry Christimas and Happy New Year to you and your family.

    Absolutely sincerely,
    Heather Gonzales

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