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MY CAMBODIAN ADVENTURE - temples and other sites

sunny

DAY 16, SATURDAY, January 19th

This weekend, students will be in Pnom Pehn to arrange Passports. A group from Singapore has been arranging for some time, that 20 students will visit Singapore and do several performances in March. This is a life experience few Cambodian orphans will ever have. I am so happy for them. Meantime, no farm this weekend.

So, Saturday unfolded with me lying in a hammock on the breezy 28 degree top balcony and luxuriating in the warm torquoise pool below. This is a magical place with many wonderful temples. Nobody should visit Cambodia without going to see a few of these. You will see from the pictures that this is a wonderful place to visit.

19 JAN- Looks like Indy in the Temple of doom! TA PROHM - where Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was filmed.

19 JAN- Looks like Indy in the Temple of doom! TA PROHM - where Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was filmed.

19 JAN. Ta Prohm - overgrown with tree roots was built in the mid 12th century, under Buddhist influence. It is eerie to walk through long deserted corridors and winding stairwells

19 JAN. Ta Prohm - overgrown with tree roots was built in the mid 12th century, under Buddhist influence. It is eerie to walk through long deserted corridors and winding stairwells

Jan 19. Angkor Thom - South gate. This was built when Buddhism flourished in the early 13th Century.

Jan 19. Angkor Thom - South gate. This was built when Buddhism flourished in the early 13th Century.

Jan 19. Amazing to realize that this temple, Angkor Thom, was built over 800 years ago. What was going on in Newfoundland back then?

Jan 19. Amazing to realize that this temple, Angkor Thom, was built over 800 years ago. What was going on in Newfoundland back then?

Jan 19. The Elephant Terrace. The king would watch as elephant and rider would charge another team of elephants and riders below. Sounds a bit gory to me.

Jan 19. The Elephant Terrace. The king would watch as elephant and rider would charge another team of elephants and riders below. Sounds a bit gory to me.

Jan 19. Bas relief of the battles between elephant teams on the southern wall of Angkor Wat.

Jan 19. Bas relief of the battles between elephant teams on the southern wall of Angkor Wat.

Jan 19. Looking across the small lake to Angkor Wat. Again, built in the 12th Century, with Hindu and Buddhist influences.

Jan 19. Looking across the small lake to Angkor Wat. Again, built in the 12th Century, with Hindu and Buddhist influences.

Jan 19. Hell, I forget the name of this one, but the view from the top was spectacular. I wonder how, with 12th Century methods, a building could be constructed to such height - and still be standing proud 800 years later.

Jan 19. Hell, I forget the name of this one, but the view from the top was spectacular. I wonder how, with 12th Century methods, a building could be constructed to such height - and still be standing proud 800 years later.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 23:33 Comments (0)

MY CAMBODIAN ADVENTURE - another recovery day

sunny

DAY 17, SUNDAY, January 20th

There is so much to see in this beautiful place. When Jamie and Michel (Canadians from Montreal, here for a Habitat build) decided to make the trip to Kulen Mountain, it was a wonderful opportunity to see more of the Siem Reap area.
JAN 20. Phnom Kulen is considered a holy mountain in Cambodia, of special religious significance to Hindus and Buddhists who come to the mountain in pilgrimage. Ku Len Mountain has two waterfalls. This one was refreshing and crystal clear.

JAN 20. Phnom Kulen is considered a holy mountain in Cambodia, of special religious significance to Hindus and Buddhists who come to the mountain in pilgrimage. Ku Len Mountain has two waterfalls. This one was refreshing and crystal clear.

Jan 20. Near Kulin mountains is Preah Ang Thom, a 16th century Buddhist monastery notable for the giant reclining Buddha, the country's largest

Jan 20. Near Kulin mountains is Preah Ang Thom, a 16th century Buddhist monastery notable for the giant reclining Buddha, the country's largest

Jan 20. 1000 Lingas ((carvings representing fertility),  Just 5 cm under the water's surface over 1000 small carvings (yoni and linga) are etched into the sandstone riverbed.

Jan 20. 1000 Lingas ((carvings representing fertility), Just 5 cm under the water's surface over 1000 small carvings (yoni and linga) are etched into the sandstone riverbed.


After skipping lunch and lying in the hammock for a few relaxing hours, I was ready for a leisurely ride around town.

JAN 20. Monks are a common site all around Cambodia. Young boys often become monks for a few years, then  ....been there! ....done that!

JAN 20. Monks are a common site all around Cambodia. Young boys often become monks for a few years, then ....been there! ....done that!

JAN 20. A trip to the market: Big bunches of little bananas. These bananas are sweet, and only as long as your middle finger.

JAN 20. A trip to the market: Big bunches of little bananas. These bananas are sweet, and only as long as your middle finger.

Fresh fish, fresh prawns, fresh eels - what is your fancy?

Fresh fish, fresh prawns, fresh eels - what is your fancy?

JAN 20. Fresh eggs: I'm sure they were laid this morning.

JAN 20. Fresh eggs: I'm sure they were laid this morning.

JAN 20. A good selection of fresh green vegetables - though I cannot identify them!

JAN 20. A good selection of fresh green vegetables - though I cannot identify them!

JAN 20.  Important to look your best on market day.Time for a lipstick touch up.

JAN 20. Important to look your best on market day.Time for a lipstick touch up.

JAN 20. Around town: water buffalo don't obey all the rules of the road.

JAN 20. Around town: water buffalo don't obey all the rules of the road.

This is the place to explore wonderful sights and tastes. The mind was willing, but the body wanted something very tame for one more day. I bicycled around town today: bought T-shirts, back to the book store, found the Wal-Mart equivalent (Yvonne McN will roll her eyes), and settled for a Western lunch: pseudo-KFC and fries. That actually set me right. No boring details, just some more pics!

Posted by Sue McNicholas 23:41 Comments (0)

MY CAMBODIAN ADVENTURE - 8 Little Helpers -Jan 21

sunny

DAY 18, MONDAY, January 21st

I feel like the ‘tripping down the street’ fellow on the Viagra ad. “Good Morning!......” And the day required lots of energy. My first class halted, when I fell through the floor! Well, I didn’t say I fell far: about 8 inches. The clay tiles have been feeling a little bit wobbley. Even at my reduced weight, it finally became too much! So, what was the cause? It appears that mice burrow in the clay under the tiles until they have just removed too much clay and the tiles come tumbling dowm. We, yes 8 kids and me, sized up the problem. Maintenance dept does not exist, so we figured it out. Cupped hands, a rice noodle bag and a shopping bag allowed for a steady line of little helpers to fill the large dips, once 20 of the brick-sized tiles were removed. We carefully packed down the clay, each time fitting the octagonal tile in its tight place. “We” means that I got to supervise while each independent little person had his/her chance. We accomplished all this in just over half of our 1-hour lesson. That left a perfect chance to do “new words” - The story of the broken floor, in short sentences. The kids were very proud of themselves, plus the story of how they helped the teacher preserved in their exercise books.

14 JAN - Having fixed the floor, my Kindergarten students settled in to do some schoolwork.

14 JAN - Having fixed the floor, my Kindergarten students settled in to do some schoolwork.

“Susan’s lending library” is a great hit. I bought a number of little kids books written in both Khmer and English. The older students are trying (in theory, at least) to read the story in English. I can’t measure its impact, but there is real enthusiasm: books are taken care of, always returned the next day for exchange, and if nothing else, students get to hear a Khmer traditional story, and to learn the library concept. At lunchtime, there were 4 or 5 kids sitting with their new books, reading. Kids from the other classes wanted to borrow, but small is beautiful. When I leave after next week, Sonia (an Aussie, Jeff’s replacement) is taking it over. Her classes will then get books for the next 4 weeks.
21 JAN - Susan's lending library is a great success!

21 JAN - Susan's lending library is a great success!

21 JAN - My senior class, just hanging out.

21 JAN - My senior class, just hanging out.

21 JAN - Reading new books is popular. 2 girls in my senior class.

21 JAN - Reading new books is popular. 2 girls in my senior class.

A four-hour lunch time goes quickly. I went to town, searching for more stickers for the kid’s books, a little light for reading at night, sandals to replace a well-worn pair. Then I was determined to work on this blog, which due to my inefficiency and the slow internet here, takes an enormous time. I found Jasmine at 1:00 for help with her studies, then got ready to head back to the school. Sonia, the other volunteer at ACODO, spotted me and told me that the older students were not yet back from Pnom Pehn, where they had gone to see about getting passports for travel to Singapore in March. This meant that there would be no afternoon classes. A change in my plans: ahhhhhhhh… the swimming pool.

The pool is serene: a rock arrangement and waterfalls at one end, shaded at one side, a deserted. I floated around on my back; I beached my new slim body and sunned with one foot in the water to cool me. I snoozed. A bit later, a group of Koreans arrived: a teacher and his 8 high school students. Mr Yong and I introduced ourselves and we made small talk. I did enjoy finding out about Korea from him, and I told him a bit about Canada. I’ve taken on the job as secret ambassador for the ACODO evening performance. I told him about ACODO, so there will be guests for this evening for a performance!

JAN 21.  Strolling around town. These vets often played music on Pub Street in the evenings.

JAN 21. Strolling around town. These vets often played music on Pub Street in the evenings.

The rest of today was mine, so I lazed around. Then I went to town for the evening, to walk around Pub Street and relax with a draft beer or two. I enjoyed listening to the music pouring onto Pub Street from each establishment, and a group of disabled veterans, sitting on the street playing traditional instruments. The evening of watching the tourists was relaxing.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 23:58 Comments (0)

MY CAMBODIAN ADVENTURE - so annoying!

sunny

Tuesday, January 22nd

I woke this morning to the sound of tiny gongs and chimes. There is music that indicates that a wedding is being celebrated. It sounds like a melodious version of the Arabic call to prayers, in the distance. I went to the terrace and enjoyed a long cup of tea, watching the town coming awake and starting to bustle with wedding and other preparations. When I went downstairs, I found seating and gifts for 60 or more people to celebrate later at this hotel. Many of the wedding party were dressed beautifully, and they asked me to join them for the festivities. I stayed for a short time and took pictures of the little girls dressed beautifully for the day. Kamra wanted pictures with me with the other ladies, so I stayed as long as I could. Weddings here are enjoyed for 3 days!

22 JAN. 6:30 a.m. bright and early. Wedding festivities are beginning at my hotel.

22 JAN. 6:30 a.m. bright and early. Wedding festivities are beginning at my hotel.

2 Little girls helping their mom with putting out gifts for all the guests

2 Little girls helping their mom with putting out gifts for all the guests

Exotic flowers

Exotic flowers

Can I open it now, Mommy?

Can I open it now, Mommy?

Farther down the street, the venue for music and dancing is prepared. Weddings are enthusiastic 3 day long celebrations!

Farther down the street, the venue for music and dancing is prepared. Weddings are enthusiastic 3 day long celebrations!

Finally I bid goodbye, and hopped on my bicycle. Classes to teach! My kindergarten class welcomed me noisily. There was a little shouting match between 2 students, and much contribution from the rest – all in Khmer! I’m not sure what it was about, but the cross faces told me a story. There was trouble settling in to do work today. “Teacher” was not on anyone’s mind, and I started looking forward to the end of this class. Finally it was time for ‘the talk’. Using small words, I told students that: “Teacher is sad. Nobody is listening. Teacher can go back to the hotel and have a nice breakfast every day and come to the school at 8:00 o’clock, to teach the other students.” I had 8 very contrite little people sitting watching me. They knew that they had not been respectful, and I think they were truly sorry. I said “No stickers for their books today.” I saw disappointed faces, and hoped I hadn’t made enemies! I finished by offering each my hand to shake and tell me if we were still friends- (a tiny Mickey mouse sticker on each hand to signify the deal). The little girls solemnly shook and said friends. The little boys smiled, and were happy to shake my hand. Like water off a duck’s back! The little rebellion was over.

Classes after my first one are easy. Enthusiastic students: most of them quite good in English. The morning flew by, and soon I was relaxing in the lush surroundings of the pool, drenched in sunlight, with one foot dangling in the water. Today I did not teach Jasmine, so I had time for a very leisurely mid-day break.

After classes today, I stayed on and spoke with some of the students. The teenaged girls are wonderful and fun. Sreyneang is a beautiful 17 year old who dances with such expressive hands and a beautiful serene face. Her reading skills are not so good, even though she is in one of the higher classes. Today we had been studying “oi” and “oy”. The class had focused on recognizing the letters, and saying the sound in as many words as I could think up. The final 10 minutes were with the word “annoy” and its slang equivalent “bug”. Streyneang can be a tease, and I did a pretty good imitation of her: Finger wagging: “Yorm is UGLY!” or “Chunny, she only like GIRLS” and back turned, arms gripped around herselelf, pretending to be making out with another girl!!!! I explained that Sreyneang likes to annoy other students. So, I poked one of the girls, and replied, “Don’t ANNOY me!” I pushed another, and retorted “Don’t BUG me. Don’t ANNOY me!” Then I did the shoving with Sreyneang, until she said: “DON’T ANNOY ME !” Much laughter. I “bugged” most students, tugging hair, pinching or poking until each told me: “Don’t ANNOY me!” I forgot all about it until I later, while I waited in the supper line, and I had a gentle shove from behind, and then another. Turning to see Sreyneang’s smiling face, I knew that I had to request in a pseudo-cross voice: “Don’t ANNOY me!” I sat for supper at her table, where from time to time I heard the phrase: Don’t annoy me!

Sreineang: "Don't ANNOY me!"

Sreineang: "Don't ANNOY me!"


I stayed on, but this evening nobody came for the performance. There were many disappointed faces. Brochures describing ACODO and telling of the free evening performances get mixed up with many dozens of other brochures in the hotel lobbies. I have taken to telling one couple at the hotel each day of the dancing and the show. When I left this orphanage this evening, I was escorted out the front gates by 10 or so of the children. Two retrieved and were holding my bicycle for me. Another had brought my tiny knapsack, and gave it to me at the door. When it is dark, it can be difficult to get up onto the bicycle while bidding “goodbye”, and looking for a break in two directions in the sparse traffic. Much waving and: “Have a safe trip”, and I was off. I returned to the sound of music: The wedding continues.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 00:01 Comments (0)

MY CAMBODIAN ADVENTURE -Featuring Newfoundland!

sunny

WEDNESDAY, January 23rd.

Today I realized that I have just over one week more here in Siem Reap. Too late to do a bucket list for Cambodia, so it means that I will have to come back.

I have been planning today’s class over the last week. Knowing about the recent stormy weather in Newfoundland, I asked friends to email me some photos. I received several, and uploaded 10 on my computer. I showed on the map where Canada is. I started by asking about snow. White and cold were volunteered. I described snowflakes, and snowstorms. We drew a snowflake, and looked at a stormy day in downtown St. John’s – you all remember that day! Our list under the heading of snow slowly grew to include: cold, white, beautiful, fun, sliding, winter, snow on Christmas trees, snow-shoes, ice, digging out, refrigerator!, winter jacket, skiing, and snow-boarding. For each one I had a story based on a wonderful picture I had been sent. (e.g. snow filled doorway, with shelves cut out and beer and screech arranged on the shelves.) In the younger classed, simple pictures were drawn of snowflakes, and of people sliding plus a car buried up to its windshield. Winter words were copied and sounded out. In the older classes, there were many questions about how people stay warm, how long is winter, in what countries is there snow and about snow sports.
That stormy day in St. John's 2 weeks ago. The students were amazed to realize that the car tires were buried by the snow!

That stormy day in St. John's 2 weeks ago. The students were amazed to realize that the car tires were buried by the snow!

This picture was enjoyed particularly by the older kids. "How can people get out of the house?" "When will the snow melt?"

This picture was enjoyed particularly by the older kids. "How can people get out of the house?" "When will the snow melt?"

I was delighted to be able to feature my snowboarding sensation – Danielle! She had been reluctant to be videoed but Mum had insisted, so there is a constant banter: “Look at the camera! Slow down! Hello, Danielle. Turn around! And “I am smiling! Stop filming me! Hi, everybody!” as I chase shakily after Danielle, myself on skis. The students made me play that 2-3 minute clip several times. They wanted to know -why is she going so fast. –how is she able to steer and not fall down. –why is she wearing those big goggles. –is she cold.

The classes were successful. There was interest and enjoyment. There was English conversation. There was a fascination with other countries and their customs and lifestyle.

I went to the performance again tonight. I was happy to see the 2 American girls I had spoken to earlier, and another couple I had also told of the performance. I took some photos after the show, which I will have printed for some of the girls. They work so beautifully together and are so exhilarated by the dance.
The Harvest Dance. Three beautiful, graceful and elegant young ladies from ACODO.

The Harvest Dance. Three beautiful, graceful and elegant young ladies from ACODO.

Still time to search out some tasty morsels to eat: I’m sure there must be something odd and daring that I have not yet tried out. Tonight is a night for treats! Ahhhh…. Pub Street -a foot massage, done in a large tank full of little fish, while the owner of the feet sits on the side drinking Angkor Beer and watching tourists ambling by. The other option is a leg and head massage while sitting in deck chairs along the Pub Street area. A stroll downtown on a warm and sultry evening is food for the soul.
"Fish Massage" Relaxing while the fish nibble everyone's feet- a funny sensation, best shared with some friends!

"Fish Massage" Relaxing while the fish nibble everyone's feet- a funny sensation, best shared with some friends!

Posted by Sue McNicholas 14:25 Comments (0)

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