Monday, October 24, 2005

I just found this picture that I took in Chicago, and had been meaning to post. There may be decomissioning but the real problem seems to be in the U.S.

So as I was buying a pack of shampoo from my host aunt who runs a small shop from our house, I was surprised to see a very familiar logo. So if anyone in Ireland figured we weren't a part of globalism, think again. Look up towards the right hand corner and see what's on sale in the middle of a slum outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Here's a closer look.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Siem Reap Story

So the day has finally come and gone of bringing these guys to Siem Reap. It was really fun to see this dream coming true. I'm sure I'll never understand just how much a trip like that means to Cambodians, let alone poor Cambodians who'd never dream of this becoming a reality. But now it's come and gone.

I wish you all could have been with me on the trip and known everything that went on, but it was so busy that it would take many lines to write out everything that we did, and I'm sure I'd forget a lot of it too. But here's some "highlights".

Sunti- the 19 year old girld- insisted on making us lunch for the bus ride there. She insisted and so I at least convinced her to use some of the money I had been given for the trip, I gave her 5 dollars for making meals for the 5 of us, that was more than plenty, but I don't think Sunti was quite experienced at making packed lunches. We each ended up with like a half pound of dry rice, and a few pieces of meat, and cold fried egg (which my host brothers didn't even end up eating). The packages that you could buy from the side of the road, suddenly seemed like a much better option, but experience is the best teacher. We all thought it was pretty funny.

We went with a group of 13 other people, my co-worker Nay was taking a group of girls she mentors and works with in an income generation project (all orphans aswell). After the 6-7 hour bus ride, we arrived in Siem Reap, and checked into our basic, but comfortable hotel then hit the Cambodian Cultural Village, which is sort of a disneyland of Cambodian culture (excpet no rides). There's a bunch of shows going on like a millionaire's wedding, or a harvest festival dance, then there's the ethinc group shows, like the chinese dancing, or the tribal ceremony to pick a husband, all of these shows have audience participation as well, so it's usually a good laugh.

First night restaurant we took them to a $3 all you can eat Thai BBQ restaurant, where you choose the meat and cook it yourself at the table. They all had tons of fun and was an experience I'm sure they'll never forget, everyone was overly full by the end of it. This was as nice a restaurant as most of them had ever been too.

The next day was at the temples, We spent about 2 hours in the first temple and got progressively quicker through the 5 other temples we visited throughout the day as temple fatigue hit in. We had some good down times as well, just to look at the view.

That night we took them to this great themed restaurant on the main street in town that was about 2-4 dollars a plate. The restaurant was like you were eating in one of the temple ruins, had great lighting and a really fun atmosphere. It was a thai restaurant again (which seemed adventurous to most of the Cambodians with us-cambodians aren't known for liking a wide range of foods-), but some of the really adventurous even tried western dishes (most not finding them too satisfying though). They had a good time though, and we went downstairs and found a snooker table and a disco ball set up with a small dance floor so we danced and played the night away. It was really fun to see these girls and my boys all acting just like normal aukward teenagers. They had a good time though, and we finished the night off with their choice of ice cream and soft drink. (yeah, okay so we spoiled these kids, but if any kids deserved to be spoiled it's these ones).

The next morning was spent relaxing and at the local market buying gifts for friends and family at home, then made the long treck home.

All in all it was a great trip, and my family were all pretty happy (but admittedly worn out) when getting home. I'll try and post some more photos soon.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Well we had a great time in Siem Reap! I don't have time to tell you all about it right now but here's a few pictures of our time there. This one is of us crouching infront of a miniture version of the royal palace at "The Cambodian Cultural Village".

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Leaving for a few days...

Thank God for the past few days. It's been the festival of Pjoom Bun here and I've had a great time. Sunday night I went out around town with a friend of mine named Phanna, he's just two years older than me, and has really been great to me since I've been here. He's also an AIDS orphan and used to live in one of the areas where I teach, he also used to be part of a gang, so he's really good and giving me insight to some of the things I'm coming across.

Monday afternoon I spent with Teara, Tearum and Sunti and we went to visit their grandfather and grandmother as this is a family holiday. Their grandad is an Ajaa which is sort of the buddhist equivalent of a priest or pastor, unlike the normal monks he's the one who organizes everything, givers "sermons" (I'm not sure of the buddhist word for this) and arranges funerals and weddings. Currently they live in the temple because their current house is almost underwater. We spent a bit of time with them (I had never met them before) and then took a boat and hung out at their one room house. It was fun just spending the afternoon on the boat, and then also on a one man innertube with plank on it. Teara's best friend Boyaa came with us and ended up falling in to the pretty scummy water.

Yesterday I spent mainly at home with the family and then today we had a Servants retreat where we discussed a lot of team issues and had an afternoon of swimming, so that was relaxing.

The last fewdays I've been eating non-stop. All neighbours and relatives come by and give food so we've been eating pretty well, and if I ever had any doubts about Cambodian cuisine, not anymore, I've never had such delicious food. When Cambodians spend money making their food, it's unbelievable. One of my favourites (which I know doesn't sound very appetizing) is this food which is like a brick of semi-cooked sticky rice with spices surrounding various things (either banana, beans, or -my favourite- pig fat...yes I knowI'm disgusting). It's then wrapped and kept in banana leaves. You can eat it straight from the banana leaf or sometimes they cut it up into slices and fry it, making it really, really delicious and pretty greasy. Praise God though that if there was any day I should have had food poisoning it should have been over the past few days, but as of right now I'm still doing pretty good, I had a bit of an upset tummy this afternoon, but I think it's passed now.

Tomorrow I'm finally off on the trip bringing my host siblings to Siem Reap. Thank you those of you who have contributed greatly to this trip, I'll definitely let you know how it turned out when we get back. If you get a chance pray for us. The weather's been pretty bad lately (last night we had a crazy strong storm that pretty much flooded our room) and so I'm sure the roads are pretty bad too.

All the best for now,