Without power what can you do?

There is an important form I need to fill out online to the Univ. of Albany so they can receive the stipend I earned from AmeriCorps. It will pay for the Buddhist Immersion program I’m on right now. I have put off this chore for a few days and decided last night would be the right time.

I’d just about get finished then the power would go out. When it came back on I tried again. Three times and I didn’t get it done, so I went across the road to an Indian restaurant. I was still stuffed from a fabulous lunch – it was fish with curry and other spices. I’d like that recipe.

I sat near the entrance and watched human activity (oh, there was that one cat) walking in the rain. Umbrellas bounced, tuk tuks rattled by, revved up motorcycles whizzed down the road, smoky trucks  poured exhaust, and traveling merchant wagons with loud speakers announced their goods.

I just sat there with my favorite drink: ice coffee with thick cream. The restaurant host has been in Cambodia for two years, and likes it so far, he said. The restaurant has a front area exposed to the street, but defined by a large canopy and a short hedge in front. Water trickles down on the side of one wall to bring a sound of peace.

I asked the host if they had dessert and the answer was no, however, there was one tiny bit of sweet he could let me try. The purple round looked like a plum, was in a tiny bowl of a thick syrup. He said it was made with a corn and flower paste and fried and then put into honey. I don’t know why the purple color.

I got ready to pay, and he said not to pay for the sweet, it was his pleasure to offer it to me.

“Most people in the world are good.” That is my mantra.

I’m up early this morning to pack my bags and get ready to leave. I’ll be at the Wat Koltertaing – a monastery for monks and where I’ll begin to teach.

I’m told there will not be wifi, so I won’t be able to post daily entrees, but will if I can find a place. Otherwise, the next post will be on July 24th, when I arrive back to Phnom Penh and the same hotel to prepare for the trip to Viet Nam. That’s complicated, but Sophak is working it out for me.

I will go with another volunteer from Global Service who is working in an orphanage in another area.

Getting educated

sophakTop photo: Sophak, my incredible teacher and guide. The photo below is the National Museum and the bottom photo is an elephant bush on the museum grounds.museumelephant bushIt was another day of learning and fun. After breakfast, Sophak went over the vocabulary and sentences in Khmer language, with me. Then the tuk tuk driver dropped us off at the National Museum, where I saw an extensive collection of sculptures and bronze artifacts, some going back to the 4th century. I’m always pleased to see a country display their culture and history. It’s a true gift.

The grounds were beautiful with a few elephant bushes. The elephant was a big part of the Hindu religion, which was the practiced religion in Cambodia before Buddhism.

In Cambodian political news today, a violent protest took place yesterday in Freedom Park. Four protest leaders were arrested. Also the Embassy has warned travelers to watch belongings as there had been some recent robberies.

Today we also attended a lesson given by Friends International. Their work consists of giving traveler tips from the Child Safe Network. Little children with pitiful and sad faces approach to either sell something or beg. The advice is not to give to the children; but instead contact one of the official ChildSafe Network Sites, which can better serve the children and their families. There are nice gifts for sale that are made by the mothers of the children who found their way into the program.

The lesson on child safety was given in a room on top of a restaurant; the restaurant serves as a culinary school for teenaged children.

The last thing we did after lunch was to take the silk material I purchased at the market yesterday to a seamstress who will make a jacket for me, fully lined. It will cost $17, and will take only a few days. I was measured for a perfect fit.

We had lunch in another restaurant from the other days. We’re trying out a different one every day. I had the most delicious dish of fish in coconut, mint, basil, pine nuts and red peppers. Yum. I’m really liking the iced coffee served in a glass with sweet milk.

 

 

 

Marketing and Wat do’s and don’ts

 

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From yesterday’s tour of the royal palace.

Today, Sophak, my teacher and guide, went over the Khmer pronunciation of words. Sometimes I thought that my mouth just wouldn’t do what it was supposed to do, but it’s not me to give up. I’ll keep trying.

After the language lesson, Sophak and I boarded a tuk tuk and headed to the old market.

If you have eye contact with a seller, you’re sure to get railroaded into their stall, and if you stop for a second, you’re hooked. This happened to me this morning. Sophak said the sellers will make better deals in the morning because when they sell something it brings good luck for the rest of the day.

Well, the handsome and charismatic young seller had me wrapped around his fingers, and I got a ‘deal’ but didn’t stop looking. He laughed. I laughed. Sophak laughed. I bought more. Sophak bought something and we finally got away.

I like what I have purchased and pleased with the ‘deal’. Sophak said it was good, so I believe him.

We also stopped at a pepper shop. I heard from the professors who I eat breakfast with that Cambodian pepper is widely known. It comes from the foot of the Cardamon mountains. There were pepper sorters in one room of the Kuratapepper Company – the website: www.kuratapepper.com will tell you all about it.

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A little bit of coconut juice quenches the thirst.

fjox say

Cute girl in the market.

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Pepper sorters

Sophak and I got back on the waiting tuk tuk for the ride back to the hotel. We then went over the Wat Do’s and Don’ts and all the proper etiquette I’ll soon need.

On Thursday, I’ll be at the Wat Koltertaing and not near a wifi, so my postings will not be visible until July 25th when I venture on to Viet Nam. No doubt I’ll find wifi there. However, if it’s possible to get to a wifi sometime during the Wat stay, I will.

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Street scene.

So, see you tomorrow right here.

Chom reap sour

The headline means Hello, written so English speakers can pronounce it.

“Are you okay?”, said some American as he walked in back of me down the steps of the Phnom Pehn’s memorial.

“Yes, I’m doing fine.”

“You don’t look so good.”

“Well, thank you.”

Sure, it was rude, but he had a point. I wasn’t as ready for the day as I should have been, and I forgot my hat and sunscreen. A pain pill would have been nice, as well. It was hot and humid, my face was red and I walked funny. Not to mention how unpretty it is to see my get out of a tuk tuk.

But it was a day of learning and an opportunity to see Phnom Pehn’s history from my teacher and guide, Sophak Touch.

A flower from a tree similar to the tree a woman named Phnom Penh found in the river in the 1400s and where the city’s name came from. The tree is called the Buddha tree.

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We saw the royal palace and the grounds, where the colors on the buildings are yellow and white – the national colors of Cambodia. Memorial’s where ashes are placed of former kings and can be seen on the grounds.

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I especially liked the long mural that was painted many years ago by 42 artists. It has faded through the years, but you can still see the history depicted in the art work.

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Sophak took me to the Genocide Museum to see the ghastly prison,that was operated under the ruthless leader, Pol Pot. We saw the cells, some of which are barely as large as a closet. People stayed here until they were taken to the killing fields and murdered. It’s a dark place and dark history, that is still a memory to many Cambodians, who’s loved ones were victims.

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To have record of Pol Pots work, he seemed it necessary to take  photos of every prisoner, both men and women. There are rooms full of photo after photo of people who eventually met their death. The eyes told the story of their fear, or the hope they had from the lies they were told. It’s a sad statement on the wickedness of the regime.

 

 

Small river at the killing fields

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Bumpy ride to see how millions died

Demonic leader of Camnbodia, Pol Pot,  in the 70’s, was the overseer of over 2 million heinous deaths.

Pol Pot, under his regime,  sent foreigners, police, men, women and children, and Buddhist monks as well as anyone else opposed to his desire to take over. His aim would be to “purify” the country, by  their deaths, and make Cambodia a communist country.

I saw the Killing Fields where thousands of people died by beheading , torturing to death, including  smashing babies against the wall.

A building with a window full of skeleton heads is part of the memorial to honor those who were killed during the evil regime.

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Even today, after every downpour, workers still recover bones that appear and then they become part of the memorial. I actually walked on a pathway that exposed bones and bits of cloth from the dead’s clothing.

It was a bumpy road and jarring ride for 45 minutes in the tuk tuk to get to the fields.

Sokal, my tuk tuk driver.

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Cambodia is unique to any country I have ever seen. It is a contradiction at every turn. While trucks spewed smog in our face, and bicycles, tuk tuk’s, motorcycles and carts, all vie for space on the road, you’ll see everything. This can mean a whole family of five on a motorcycle, tall, narrow houses, three to six stories tall, and finer houses sitting next to garbage strewn shacks.

Gentle giant white cows are integrated into the living space and are treated well.

Two doggies were seen making more doggies.

Once we drove by an “elegant eyeglasses” store, looking elegant, as the sign said, next to an industrial-looking machine shop. I can imagine the creative problem solving that goes on there in that shop, making do with what they have on hand.

There were furniture stores with beautiful hand-made chairs of wood and or reeds. I saw concrete statues, barber shops and so much more. It is truly an amazing country and, oh, and can’t leave here without mentioning the noise on the road.

IMG_1226Scene from my window.

Cambodian People’s Party signs were on display along the bumpy ride.

It began to sprinkle while going there, but coming back the streets were flooded and we drove through a mini-ocean to get back.

I held fast to my seat al the  time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing on the planet is standardized

I’m back on the internet in the community room of the Golden Gate Hotel. I tried yesterday, after running out of battery power, to locate a store where I could find a country converter. I have several for many countries, but those didn’t fit my computer plug, and the one I purchased after chasing around the city on foot and then on a Tuk Tuk, didn’t work either.

A college professor from Texas, here in Cambodia with American students, staying at the same hotel, advised me that I shouldn’t need a converter that all rooms have outlets that would fit any plug. NOT! Mine didn’t: so I asked at the front desk about a converter. The asked if my computer didn’t have a battery. YES, of course it has a battery, but the battery is down, and I need a plug/outlet to get back on. I showed them the plug and the computer. They looked into variou drawers but didn’t come up with anything and said they couldn’t help me.

I reminded them that hotel says they have wifi, so I need to get my computer up and running. This I said, mostly in pantomime.  Then they showed me the community room, and a plug, that lo and behold, as you see here, it worked.

Language is king in the world.

By take way a Tuk Tuk is a motorcycle of sorts, that pulls a wagon with comfortable seats.

I took one of those back from my unsuccessful shopping. The traffic here is a web of noise, with motorcycles, tuk tuk’s, taxi’s, cars, buses, wagons, moveable  food kiosks, and more. Pedestrians are an inconvenience.

But, just learning how to get around and be understood and be understanding is giving me the great experience I want.

On my walk yesterday, one shop sent me to another shop, and so on; at one place I found a lovely coffee shop with French pastries and a nice Japanese gentleman to talk to for awhile.

No power

Only have 10 % on computer, and all my converters don’t work in Cambodia.

 

Tried to find a source, difficult.

Will try again today.

Hello from Cambodia

I just arrived in the Golden Gate Hotel after an all day of being in the air. No sleep for one whole day. And so far, I’m not tired. I cannot, for the life of me, sleep on an airplane.

AsianaAirline flight attendants are charming and pay close attention to detail, and always with a smile. I love their fashionable uniforms, too.

When I got out of the airport, in Phnom Penh, after filling out several papers, including a visa, necessary for the time I’ll be here, Sophak Touch was standing with a group of people waiting for their folks. I saw my name on a paper he held up. He is responsible for the time I spend here, showing me around and helping me out with teaching.

I got here a few days early so I can get over jet lag and acclimated to the heat.

Sofak  called a taxi and for about 10 minutes we went through several neighborhood shopping areas, with small stores, still opened for business.

I taught Sofak about Mom and Pop stores. He now has one more bit of American slang.

Also on the road are some large buildings and a memorial for the king who died, and another structure – all lit up for the day Cambodia got their freedom – back in the 1990s.

We got to the hotel and a cute young boy with reddish hair and a sweet smile, carried my suitcases up to my room, and very gentlemanly, pointed to his bare feet. Oops! First mistake, I didn’t take off my shoes. There will be many learning opportunities ahead of me.

I have to admit, bowing to me is strange, but I like the respect. I must show the same respect to others, and it is well structured as to who you bow to, and how you do it.

This hotel is nice and located within a bustling tourist location, and the bedroom is large, clean and nice. And…the air conditioner works! Yea!

Sophak asked me if I’d like to go shopping tomorrow with some other volunteers who have been here for awhile, and I’d like to do that, but I really need some time to rest up before I venture out beyond this neighborhood. He promised me there would be other opportunities to shop.

Before I left San Francisco Airport, where my daughter-in-law, Debby took me, I began to wonder if I accomplished the task of turning my cell phone into International calling, I got off of an elevator at the gate and right in front of me was a gentlemen, Taru, who beamed intelligence. He works in the tech industry as an engineer and is going home to India for a visit.  I think we have the phone connected correctly. Thanks to Taru!

Everywhere I go there is always someone ready to help out; good people in the world.

 

Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the day.

My daughter-in-law, Aleida (Debby to us) takes off work to see me off at the San Francisco airport where I’ll leave for a very long flight: two of them, in fact. I change planes in Seoul, Korea for the last five hours.

I’ll be picked up and taken to the hotel where I’ll stay for a few days before the program begins.

I have packed family photos, photos of California, a world map, lots of teaching tools that I will leave there, some American flags, and other American paraphernalia and some pens with German logos that were sent to me by my German friend to take as gifts to my students.

My luggage will come up to the highest allowed weight for the airline restrictions.

I’m taking lots of tech equipment as I will not come straight back to California. I’ll be in Colorado for all of September.

The trip back takes me to Colorado, as I desired, but I change planes in San F.