Monthly Archives: July 2014

Small river at the killing fields

IMG_1282

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.

IMG_1265

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.

IMG_1230

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.

 

Crisp American dollars

The mission today was to find crisp American twenty dollar bills. I walked first to Bank of America where I was told the only time they get brand new bills is around Christmas time, but the teller did exchange some wrinkled and old bills for some not quite as wrinkled.

(The reason for the crisp dollars is because the Cambodian business will not accept even a torn bill. They must be perfect looking.)

Then on the way to Wells Fargo, I met up with my daughter-in-law Aleida who was walking with her little preschool kids. Each of them were holding on to a soft link, chain, type of rope so they wouldn’t get lost. They all greeted me, then off I went one way, and they went the other.

Wells Fargo had the same information: nothing new in the line of crisp twenties, but I did get brand new one dollar bills to use for tips.

Just about ready for my big departure on Wednesday, with just a few more things to do. I sent an email off to the country coordinator who will meet me  at the airport.

Stay tuned for the daily report. If I cannot find a wifi station, I’ll write as often as I can, but for sure, I will have a daily journal.

 

Baseball and autographs

Take me out to the ballgame, buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks.

My son Brad and daughter-in-law Aleida and I met up at the San Jose ballpark with son Larry, daughter-in-law Sue and her mom, the ball players girlfriend and her parents.

Bobby, the ball player was the reason we all showed up together.

Well, our team didn’t win this game even though they are in first place. It was a hot day, and they played hard.

The fun part was waiting for Bobby while he signed autographs outside of the stadium. I’m a proud grandma.

That Sunday will be the last Sunday I’ll see Bobby and the others for several months ahead.

Another fun item of the day, was when Betsy, the other grandma, told me that her friend read my book and couldn’t put it down. It seems she had much in common with  some of the stories in “Too Close to the Sun” – a Dutch boy becomes a man during WWII. It’s always good to hear positive comments about my book.

It’s still available on Amazon.

Indonesian elections/Cambodian readiness

My lovely daughter-in-law from Indonesia, exercised her right to vote today at the Indonesian Embassy,  for the Indonesian Presidency. She is in the U.S. legally and loves the U.S.A. She is informed about the U.S., sometimes more than a U.S. citizen, however, she will keep her Indonesian citizenry for awhile.

She dressed this morning before heading up to San Francisco in her red and white colors of the Indonesian flag.

Yesterday, she and I attended the 4th of July parade and she dressed in red, white and blue.

While everyone in the house had places to go this morning, I trudged up to a coffee shop and read the necessary information for my Cambodian experience. I thought I had all I needed, but there were still a few more items for me to purchase, and my suitcase is filling up.

The last thing I purchased is a map of the world so I can point out where I live to the Cambodian students. I’m not certain how old the student will be, but I’m ready for any age. It’s going to be fun!

Solving the problem of horse-dropped memories

There was a typical small town 4th of July parade in downtown Half Moon Bay. The sidewalks were loaded with watchers. The sit-down band kept the music going throughout the day as marching organizations, floats and horses thrilled the on-lookers.

The horses were especially entertaining with their dancing and prancing and racing down the street and then back up the street again to join the rest of the horses.

When the parade was over, with the horse-dropped memories left on the street, and  needing to be cleaned up, the chore was done in the more creative way I have ever witnessed.

Five young ladies dressed in green, carried shovels, buckets  and brooms, danced around the memories left by the horses and scooped, swept and shoveled it all into buckets all the while entertaining the crowd with their antics.

It got a lot of laughs and clapping from the red, white and blue, decorated, parade watchers.