Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cambodia Part 2

July 7

Phaly told us not to come to the school this morning because there was a huge parade celebrating Angkor’s Wat’s 1 year anniversary for being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He was so proud of his country and the history and he thought it was more important for us to see that then help him at the school. We ate breakfast and wandered over to where the parade was supposed to be. Sure enough, there were TONS of people lined up. We decided to try to find the front of the parade to take a picture, but the parade started moving. 6 km later we were at Angkor Wat! Meng (the other country coordinator besides Sam) later told us that he was very concerned about us because apparently we were supposed to be stopped at some checkpoint, but no one stopped us so we kept on going and ended up all the way at the temple! We walked with locals, school children, and monks.

part of the parade

After the tuk-tuk ride back, Kristen and I rented bikes and rode over to the Artisans d’Angkor, which is a craftsman shop that supports local Cambodians and teaches them painting, stone carving, and wood carving. This is the same day that Kristen and went for a bike ride in search of Wat Damnak and Wat Bo, which we eventually found. Yes, we got lost, but we did get used to riding around the crazy streets of Siem Reap, which is an achievement in its own right, trust me.

That night we had dinner at our favorite place, Cambodian Soup, and the drinking game was invented. Turns out that men tend to travel in pairs (or threes or fours) in Cambodia, therefore, one was required to drink whenever we saw 2 or more guys together. We could have drank a lot, but I’m pretty sure we kept it down to like 3 drinks, plus a coconut. Did you know that coconuts are pH balanced like our bodies, making them the ultimate electrolyte replacement drink?

July 8

My butt hurts. I blame the maladjusted bike that I ventured out on yesterday with Kristen.

all smiles the day before!

Today was the day the hard labor began. We were moving dirt to fill in a hole to level out the ground for a new classroom at Khmer Chewy Khmer. It was very hot and very humid. Phaly gave us a break and we walked over to his mother’s house, the over to his cousin’s house. He was so proud to tell us about his land, his country, and his people. When we got back, we moved some cement from a pile near the walkway to a pile behind a classroom. He was concerned that the children might hurt themselves on it. As we were moving the cement, we disturbed a scorpion family that was living under it which Phaly scooped up and tossed into the rice field.

That night we went to the orphanage. The orphanage itself has two bedrooms (one for boys, one for girls), a kitchen, and living area, plus some play space outside. When it came time to leave, there were no adults around and we weren't sure what to do. It was then that I learned you cannot trust the cell network in Cambodia. I finally got in touch with Sam who told me that we could leave, that the older kids would take care of the younger ones. It was another lesson in how different this country was than the United States.

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