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MY CAMBODIAN ADVENTURE - Early days checking out Siem Reap.

sunny 30 °C

DAY 6, WEDNESDAY

Last night was warm. I awoke at 3, and read and worked on those names and class lists. At 4, I did laundry in the sink and got into a warm bath to continue reading. The power went out a while later, so I was forced to go back to bed, figuring on sleeping from 5 to 6. I awoke at 7 sharp – the time of my first class. Dressing and power walking down the road took me there by 7:08. A few minutes later Savon arrived and another teaching day began. I am now on midday break, by the hotel pool, having cooled off for 20 minutes in a lush deserted pool. Lunch break from teaching was never like this back home!
At 32 degrees C, it is easy to slip into a pool and float around dreamily.

At 32 degrees C, it is easy to slip into a pool and float around dreamily.



Teaching English here is quite fun. Though the classrooms are very basic, the number of students is small. ‘Kindergarten’ is a class of 8 kids, of age 6 – 10. Some of the “monkey dancers” come from this class – it was easy to figure that out! The kids talk English to me, but some are a bit shy. Today we did “on”, “under” and “in”. There are not many teaching aids, so drawing on the board helped. Using a shoe to demonstrate went fine till I did: “The shoe is ___ my head” Anguished cries of “No, no, NO!”, let me realize that this is a cultural taboo. Well, I’m learning plenty, too!

With the teaching day done, I walked to town to see what is on the go there. I discovered a market that sells fresh produce, most of which was picked this morning. I’ve decided to work my way through fruits and veggies that I haven’t ever tried before. Mangosteen is one interesting fruit - hard to describe. The spices: amok, green curry and ones that I haven’t seen before will make up the extent of my purchases to bring home. Once out of the market, there were wonderful smells of spices and roasting meat and roasting bananas, produced by dozens of street vendors. The chicken looked so good, that it became my treat for supper.
These all smell so good, worth a closer look.

These all smell so good, worth a closer look.

Curries, Fish stew, Fresh vegetables with unusual spices.

Curries, Fish stew, Fresh vegetables with unusual spices.

Good prices

Good prices

Spicy chicken  a beer will make a fine supper.

Spicy chicken+ a beer will make a fine supper.

JAN 13. Just like "Happy Pizza", if you ask for "extra,extra happy"the pizza will put a smile on your face all evening. But don't buy it if you are going home by bicycle!

JAN 13. Just like "Happy Pizza", if you ask for "extra,extra happy"the pizza will put a smile on your face all evening. But don't buy it if you are going home by bicycle!

....and some cold Ankor beer.

....and some cold Ankor beer.


Walking around is pleasant, though there are constant polite inquiries: “Madam need tuc-tuc?” or “Massage, Madam?” – I’ll break down soon; massages cost $2 - $5, though the really topnotch place I’ve been told about is a little bit more expensive.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 21:25 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

MY CAMBODIAN ADVENTURE , ACODO tour & long evening walk

sunny

DAY 7, THURSDAY

Another good day teaching – I know a number of the names and the children’s weaknesses. The small number of children in each class, and their usual cooperation makes teaching here a joy.

The plan for this evening was to bring Michael, (the restauranteur) to the dance show at the orphanage then to go for something to eat. We met and walked down to the orphanage. One of the older boys took him for a tour around the orphanage, and told him some of the history of this place. He finished in time for watching the smaller kids getting ready for the dancing. Soon the stage cleared, leaving only the musicians in the back. After a short introduction by Visna, a co-founder, several children came onto the stage to perform “the monkey dance”. I’ll include a short video of part of this dance. The peacock dance followed, then a traditional dance done in the countryside. Between the dances, there was a short video that told of the history and about future plans for the orphanage. The plans involve expanding their farm, which grows rice, and fish, in addition to chickens and cows. Michael was blown away by the whole thing. (Who wouldn’t be?). JAN 10.  AFTER THE SHOW. The kids all enjoy themselves - whether they perform or not.

JAN 10. AFTER THE SHOW. The kids all enjoy themselves - whether they perform or not.

We went on foot to walk around Siem Reap and to find somewhere to eat. After an hour of walking around, we were drawn to Pub Street: Similar to George street. As they say here: “Same, same. …but different.” The street is shorter than George street, music comes from nearly every establishment- funk, jazz, hip-hop. The street is closed to traffic, so people amble along in the evening’s cool 30 degree air. Beer now costs more: 75c for a draft beer. It is lively, and many languages are heard. There are wonderful smells of all kinds of meats roasting. We sat at “The Red Piano for a Belgian beer, watched people, then walked some more and finding pork balls: Fluffy pastries containing spiced pork and an egg. Next pancakes with fresh pineapple grilled in front of you, and last of all chicken feet- (not very interesting). We walked down back-roads and discovered some lovely places to stay: serene oasis with palm trees and little water falls into a pool, dimly lit with torches, a family sitting out in the dark eating dinner- we were asked to join them! Three hours of walking and we decided to head back. Great evening.

JAN 11. Street food: fresh corn on the cob and pork dumplings at a half buck each!

JAN 11. Street food: fresh corn on the cob and pork dumplings at a half buck each!

JAN 10.  Night Market in Siem Reap. There are great smells and tastes while strolling around down town on a sultry evening.

JAN 10. Night Market in Siem Reap. There are great smells and tastes while strolling around down town on a sultry evening.

JAN 10. There are some lovely guest houses to be found while strolling past the downtown.

JAN 10. There are some lovely guest houses to be found while strolling past the downtown.

JAN 10. Enough of the backstreets - time to head home.

JAN 10. Enough of the backstreets - time to head home.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 22:48 Comments (0)

MY CAMBODIAN ADVENTURE , Jan 11. Lots to learn in class

sunny

Day 8, FRIDAY.

Teaching routine: 7 & 8 a.m. classes, 1 hour break, 9 a.m. class then 4 hour lunch break. I wandered around the town on lunch break and found a treat: stickers and children’s books in English and Khmer. I’ll try them out next week. (Boy it is fun being and elementary teacher!) Back “home” for a swim, then on to classes.

Afternoon classes have older students, so we often read or have conversations in English. Today’s reading was “Ancient Buildings” which lead to Cambodia’s ancient temples: in what centuries were they built? Pang is interested in history, so he left class and came back with a book in Khmer about the temples. We found ones built in the 8th to the 12th century. My favourite is Ta Prohm – overgrown with tree roots, the one filmed in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”. This led to discussing life back then, and invaders. Pang suggested Gengis Khan, so we looked this up. Hong Hav wanted to know if he invaded the temples. We found out that Gengis Khan’s empire extended from most of China right across to Eastern Europe. So Cambodia was spared.
This is Khmer script. Talking of Cambodias ancient temples, Pang retrieved this book to show me the temple Ta Prohm. Just realize that when kids start to learn English here, it is a new alphabet and new sounds. (Not easy, like when you study Spanish!)

This is Khmer script. Talking of Cambodias ancient temples, Pang retrieved this book to show me the temple Ta Prohm. Just realize that when kids start to learn English here, it is a new alphabet and new sounds. (Not easy, like when you study Spanish!)


Kyo and Rau - Teachers dream of students like these. Funny, bright - pinch me: I must be dreaming. They are doing grade 6, but their English skills far surpass that.

Kyo and Rau - Teachers dream of students like these. Funny, bright - pinch me: I must be dreaming. They are doing grade 6, but their English skills far surpass that.


I stayed on after classes. Soon the children who had gone out for Khmer and Math classes came back by van. As is the custom, each one came to me and other teachers, and putting hands together and bowing slightly said, “Welcome home, teacher.” And I replied.

I ate supper with the students today, and stayed on to watch their wonderful show. It is always so professional. Today Suvut was a monkey dancer. He is only 4 years old, so his costume is a bit big. I think his pants were too big because he kept pulling on the back of them, all the while continuing with the dance.
Suvut, our four year old. He was a monkey dancer this evening, and his pants were too long. He just kept hoisting them up as he scampered across stage, not missing a beat.

Suvut, our four year old. He was a monkey dancer this evening, and his pants were too long. He just kept hoisting them up as he scampered across stage, not missing a beat.


Home by nine. It is a long day, and tomorrow I will be visiting the ACODO farm.

You can see a short video of the Monkey Dance on the entry for January 25th.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 22:56 Archived in Cambodia Comments (1)

MY CAMBODIAN ADVENTURE - the farm, and Jasmine's house!

sunny

DAY 9, SATURDAY, January 12th

Today the driver, Savon, the co-founder, Vesna, the other teacher - Jeff, plus an electrician and another couple are going to visit the farm. The purpose is to determine how to upgrade the electrical supply to allow the expansion of the farm. It is planned when enough money has been raised.
Jeff (from Austria) is also teaching at ACODO. We're heading out to the farm together. I'm trying to convince him he does look good in a hat - mine!

Jeff (from Austria) is also teaching at ACODO. We're heading out to the farm together. I'm trying to convince him he does look good in a hat - mine!


The farm is interesting. Several large rice fields are surrounded by a moat containing fish, which will be kept till larger. Ten cows were bred over 4 years and now there are 50, which provide meat and the older ones are loaned to poor villagers when they are in calf to provide a calf for them. Also many ducks, chickens and turkeys provide eggs and young, which are sold to help support the orphanage.

Out of the van and onto the farm - and who challenges our right to be there? Well, the water-buffalo, of course.  Well, he works here. Look at his hooves and see if you can figure out where.

Out of the van and onto the farm - and who challenges our right to be there? Well, the water-buffalo, of course. Well, he works here. Look at his hooves and see if you can figure out where.

SATURDAY (12). FOR  DANIELLE - There were pups on the farm!  I played with them but mum kept shoeing them away.  Notice the palm leaf construction?

SATURDAY (12). FOR DANIELLE - There were pups on the farm! I played with them but mum kept shoeing them away. Notice the palm leaf construction?

SATURDAY (12). This is SAVON - the supervisor in the ACODO school, standing in front of one of the rice fields/fish ponds. Rice in this field is close to harvest time. Harvest is staggered, so other rice fields are at different stages. So are the fish.

SATURDAY (12). This is SAVON - the supervisor in the ACODO school, standing in front of one of the rice fields/fish ponds. Rice in this field is close to harvest time. Harvest is staggered, so other rice fields are at different stages. So are the fish.

SATURDAY (12). Inside the chicken/duck/turkey house. This is a big operation.

SATURDAY (12). Inside the chicken/duck/turkey house. This is a big operation.

SATURDAY (12). Well, it seems like turkey is not a big thing at Christmas in Cambodia!

SATURDAY (12). Well, it seems like turkey is not a big thing at Christmas in Cambodia!

SATURDAY (12). Cows (bulls?) are good looking out this way! ...or have I been away from home for too long?

SATURDAY (12). Cows (bulls?) are good looking out this way! ...or have I been away from home for too long?

SATURDAY (12). This is the workhorse, when they can afford a qualified driver. How can it be made to drive better in the mud?  Only Eldon knows for sure.  (His challenge when he comes out here next year.)

SATURDAY (12). This is the workhorse, when they can afford a qualified driver. How can it be made to drive better in the mud? Only Eldon knows for sure. (His challenge when he comes out here next year.)

SATURDAY (12). A picture on the ACODO farm of me with Veasna , one of the two co-founders of ACODO.

SATURDAY (12). A picture on the ACODO farm of me with Veasna , one of the two co-founders of ACODO.


On the weekend, the boys will be forking hay (from rice plants of course) for the cattle, and catching fish for the market. The girls will be collecting eggs and also cow-patties to make organic fertilizer for the rice fields. I guess that is what I will be doing.

As we walked, I noticed that one of the large rice fields was empty of rice and the water was being completely drained. I’m told that it was sadly discovered that if the field was not completely drained for at least a day, stocking the ponds with fingerlings resulted in any leftover large fish enjoying their old age eating up all the fingerlings, till the pond was empty!
SATURDAY (12).The plan for the development of the farm over the next few years. The intention is to make ACODO self sufficient based on the farm: producing eggs, meat, rice and fish to supply the orphanage and local markets.

SATURDAY (12).The plan for the development of the farm over the next few years. The intention is to make ACODO self sufficient based on the farm: producing eggs, meat, rice and fish to supply the orphanage and local markets.


I enquired about accommodation there, as I will spend next weekend on the farm. The boys sleep in hammocks in the trees, the girls sleep in a room on the floor. I will have my own room with a hammock.

We left an hour later, and I went back home to prepare for the afternoon. Jasmine has invited me to visit her home. It is around ½ hour’s ride by bicycle. We found the bikes and set off.
SATURDAY (12). After a lunch break, and showering off the dust from the farm, we're heading to Jasmine's village. There is not much traffic, and it is half an hour's bicycle ride.

SATURDAY (12). After a lunch break, and showering off the dust from the farm, we're heading to Jasmine's village. There is not much traffic, and it is half an hour's bicycle ride.


We rode through the countryside, buying pineapples and watermelon along the way. We arrived at her brother’s house- a simple 1 room brick house with no electricity. Her brother, Kosal, spoke good English. He introduced me to his wife and baby daughter. I asked him about his work. He sells cooking oil to shops and restaurants. He teaches English to poor children of the area in a grass hut beside his home. He also puts in water wells whenever his sponsor raises money for one. Jasmine invited me to come back to the town the following day for a party, and Kosal said that he could show me some of the wells he had put in.
SATURDAY (12). I met Jasmine's family: Mou, her dad, Kosal, Jasmine and her sister, Nguon. They were wonderful and welcoming. Kosal told me about his work and his passion when I inquired .  Nguon spoke no English, but she made me feel so welcome.

SATURDAY (12). I met Jasmine's family: Mou, her dad, Kosal, Jasmine and her sister, Nguon. They were wonderful and welcoming. Kosal told me about his work and his passion when I inquired . Nguon spoke no English, but she made me feel so welcome.


SATURDAY (12). A look around the house. It has no electricity whatsoever. Running water: Kosal put in a pump, which is used by several families in the area.

SATURDAY (12). A look around the house. It has no electricity whatsoever. Running water: Kosal put in a pump, which is used by several families in the area.


SATURDAY (12). A neighbour has come by to pump some water from the well that Kosal put in.

SATURDAY (12). A neighbour has come by to pump some water from the well that Kosal put in.


SATURDAY (12). A garden of healthy looking broccoli next to their house. It must be watered 3 times a day with manure water. The "well" is a pit dug next to the garden. Access is by climbing down the slanting muddy side till you reach the water.

SATURDAY (12). A garden of healthy looking broccoli next to their house. It must be watered 3 times a day with manure water. The "well" is a pit dug next to the garden. Access is by climbing down the slanting muddy side till you reach the water.

SATURDAY (12). We ate some snacks while Kosal did up the paperwork for the day's business.

SATURDAY (12). We ate some snacks while Kosal did up the paperwork for the day's business.

SATURDAY (12). There are some of the banana trees next to their home, giving beautiful cool green shade.

SATURDAY (12). There are some of the banana trees next to their home, giving beautiful cool green shade.


Jasmine brought me to the schoolroom. It is actually made of palm tree leaves woven together.
SATURDAY (12). We climbed up a short ladder to get into the classroom where Kosal teaches some local children English. Notice how the building is made: palm fronds sewn together;  six desks, a white board and some alphabet and word posters.

SATURDAY (12). We climbed up a short ladder to get into the classroom where Kosal teaches some local children English. Notice how the building is made: palm fronds sewn together; six desks, a white board and some alphabet and word posters.


Kosal’s wife, Nguon, showed me their home: banana and mango trees grow in their yard. Then we sat and Nguon and Jasmine brought out wonderful things to eat: fresh watermelon, pineapple, pork, chicken, frogs and best of all grasshoppers. They were lightly fried with onion and hot peppers. I found out how to catch them - a net, a plastic sheet and a bucket of water set out overnight…. So next summer, you may be in for a treat at my house.
SATURDAY (12). The wonderful dishes started to arrive, then we all just sat and enjoyed.

SATURDAY (12). The wonderful dishes started to arrive, then we all just sat and enjoyed.

SATURDAY (12). My absolute all time favourite! I was sorry that Mou liked these so much. I kept pushing the frogs over her way, so she would give me a fair chance. Yes, they are grasshoppers with onion, chili and oil. Yum!

SATURDAY (12). My absolute all time favourite! I was sorry that Mou liked these so much. I kept pushing the frogs over her way, so she would give me a fair chance. Yes, they are grasshoppers with onion, chili and oil. Yum!

SATURDAY (12).  Just sitting back under the banana trees - what could be finer?

SATURDAY (12). Just sitting back under the banana trees - what could be finer?

SATURDAY (12). Also very yummy. Not salty like salt caplin, but sort of the same crunchiness. Yes they frogs - legs and all.

SATURDAY (12). Also very yummy. Not salty like salt caplin, but sort of the same crunchiness. Yes they frogs - legs and all.

SATURDAY (12). Here's my competition: picking away at the frogs, once all the grasshoppers were gone. Don't let her small size fool you - she could pack away those frogs.

SATURDAY (12). Here's my competition: picking away at the frogs, once all the grasshoppers were gone. Don't let her small size fool you - she could pack away those frogs.


We all relaxed together under the banana leaves, and had a really magical evening.
SATURDAY (12). This lovely scene told me we would be riding home in the dark.  We bid fond farewells and soon were on our way.

SATURDAY (12). This lovely scene told me we would be riding home in the dark. We bid fond farewells and soon were on our way.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 01:47 Comments (0)

MY CAMBODIAN ADVENTURE - Party time

sunny

DAY 10, SUNDAY, January 13th

The second day without power: It is hardly missed when the weather is so warm and just being here is a joy. I took a dip in the pool, and lazed about till noon. Then I headed into town: I had found some kids books in Khmer and English. I want to lend them out in my classes for 2 days at a time. In the end I will leave them – never too many clean bright new books!

At 3 p.m. Kosal finished work and arrived on his motorbike. Jasmine had to work, so we set of to her town 10 minutes away. We arrived at his friend, Sophorn’s house: The celebration was because he and his wife had just moved into a new apartment. Again, I had interesting conversation. I enjoyed hearing Sophorn’s opinion on politics and corruption in Cambodia. “The King lives very well”. We spent a relaxing afternoon eating spicy new dishes, that I can’t really name and watching new neighbours coming by to make the new couple welcome. A little bit later Kosal, his wife and child set out with me, all onboard the bike to home. Nguon and the baby got off at their home, and we went off to see a number of the wells. Each one is used by several families in an area. Kosal then brought me back to the town and we shook hands warmly.

I found Sona sitting in the hotel lobby, arranging lotuses in a bowl of water. She said that the lotuses are not yet open, so she tucks in the bottom petals so that they will float. We enjoyed the afternoon together, talking and arranging the flowers.
SUNDAY (13),.......................... Sona is folding lotuses, so they will float in water. She is making a lovely arrangement and she offers to show me how to do it.

SUNDAY (13),.......................... Sona is folding lotuses, so they will float in water. She is making a lovely arrangement and she offers to show me how to do it.

SUNDAY (13),.......................... Many lotuses grow wild in this area.  This  looks like a professional job to me.

SUNDAY (13),.......................... Many lotuses grow wild in this area. This looks like a professional job to me.

SUNDAY (13),.......................... Now it's my turn. I think I'm a natural.

SUNDAY (13),.......................... Now it's my turn. I think I'm a natural.

SUNDAY (13),.......................... Now for the fruit:  clockwise from the top:  RAMBUTAN (sort of like lychee)  MANGOSTEEN (white fruit with a sort of kiwi flavour) and MILKFRUIT (like it says!)

SUNDAY (13),.......................... Now for the fruit: clockwise from the top: RAMBUTAN (sort of like lychee) MANGOSTEEN (white fruit with a sort of kiwi flavour) and MILKFRUIT (like it says!)

The night is still young. Khamra, the very cheerful and attentive worker on the front desk has accepted my invitation to go dancing in a nightclub. He says he hasn’t gone before. Jasmine is also keen, as is Eng, a lovely young cook. By the time Kamra was able to leave (“Don’t tell Auntie” he told me), 7 Korean visitors had joined us. We marched along by the river until we got to a pulsating neon modern establishment where we were frisked for drinks going in.
SUNDAY (13),..........................The lazy afternoon turned into a plan to go to the disco. This is one swinging hot spot we tried out for an hour, before the other hot spot.

SUNDAY (13),..........................The lazy afternoon turned into a plan to go to the disco. This is one swinging hot spot we tried out for an hour, before the other hot spot.

SUNDAY (13),..........................Now this place was really sizzling!  Music pulsing - too loud to talk - So we all got up an danced,

SUNDAY (13),..........................Now this place was really sizzling! Music pulsing - too loud to talk - So we all got up an danced,


We ordered drinks, but the music was infectious and I hopped up to the dance floor. Seems that Cambodians don’t like girls to dance alone, so soon I was dancing with several cute very young fellows. What fun! ..but those songs are really long! I went back for some of that great Angkor beer, then most at our table got up to dance- as a group. Boy, it is hard to be left out here. It was a great evening – and a great work out too. Common sense finally told us that morning comes very early for all of us workers, so we all left together and sauntered happily along our very dark and somewhat overgrown path. I tried not to think of the crocodile farm just DOWNRIVER from us. We got home, just after midnight, ready to hit the sack.
SUNDAY (13),.........................THE DANCING MACHINE !!!! in front of our hotel, after midnight.

SUNDAY (13),.........................THE DANCING MACHINE !!!! in front of our hotel, after midnight.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 01:55 Comments (0)

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