Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kompong Phhluk

Yesterday we went to the Kompong Phluk village which is a floating village near Siem Reap but it only floats some of the time when the Mekong River overflows. You can still go visit the village during this time of year and the people are very friendly and you get to see a bit of the country side. It was a long process of getting there and getting back, but it was sooo much fun!


First we took tuk-tuks until the road got too muddy. The road gets muddy because as the water begins to rise, it buries the road underwater by 5 meters. Therefore, the road is not passable by tuk-tuks. The way there was still very bumpy as soon as we got outside of Siem Reap, but surprisingly I fell asleep, lol. I guess I was pretty tired.


We got to a house, and took a truck to the boat dock. The road was very rough and we were only sitting in the bed of the truck. It’s not that it wasn’t safe though because there wasn’t really any other traffic on the road at all. This was a very interesting experience because there was a snake on the truck bed under the mats we were sitting on, and some of the people began freaking out. I picked the snake up by the tail and threw it outside. The truck driver was laughing at us a lot.


We took a small boat to the village through trees and fishing traps. The place where you start taking the boat depends on how high the water is. When the water is high, you don’t even have to take the truck. The boat was pretty comfortable, but because the banks were narrow some people were getting very nervous.


We got to the village and you could tell that people were not expecting tourists at all. The get a decent amount during the flooded season, but they hardly get any during this season. I think a lot of the kids were very open and friendly which was cool.

We walked to the pagoda in the village and there were a bunch of children there. Jo and Bryan went there before the program started and they knew that the kids have English classes everyday at 1pm with one of the monks. We talked with the kids and they were asking us questions in English like “How old are you?” and “What is your mother and father’s names?” It was very cool. It was a good chance for them to practice their English.

We met the monk and he’s pretty young. He told us the reason that he became a monk is that he was unable to go to university, but he wanted to learn as much as possible. He studied English on his own and he teaches it to the kids now. He was also asking us a lot about the pronunciation of various English words to help him improve. I thought that was very cool.

The kids started class. At 1pm they all just sat down and began reciting together from their books without anyone making them to. They all come on their own to learn and I think that if they mess around, the monk will tell them to leave. They were reciting colors and the the colors they said were so funny. “Crimson, charcoal grey, sky blue, rust…” They also began reciting conversational phrases and things like that from their notebooks.


We left the village and went out to see the lake. I was so excited because I got to sit on the front part of the boat. There were wooden houses out their, but Bryan said that within this week a lot have already been taken down because the water levels are rising. I got some awesome pictures.


Back on to the truck. We got on the trucks, but this time I got to sit near the front, and the ride was a lot less bumpy there. We noticed that some rain clouds were coming and they looked pretty bad.


We get back into the tuk-tuks. As soon as we did the storm began. WOW No wonder they call this the rainy season. Luckily our tuk-tuk had rain covers so we didn’t get too wet, but some of the others didn’t.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The past two days of orientation have been mostly listening to them talk about safety and not doing anything stupid. I guess they feel required to tell us a lot more in Asia because a lot more can go wrong. For example, we’re not allowed to ride on motorbikes or drive them (not that I would do that anyway). Things like that.

Today we’re going to the floating village and I’m so excited! :D Two of my friends already went and they met a monk there that was teaching some kids how to speak English. So Joanna and I decided to buy a couple of books on learning English for them. I thought that would something that they could use, and we wouldn’t have to worry about them using the donation in a way that didn’t go directly for the kids.

The day before yesterday (Thursday) I was feeling pretty sick, but things are a lot better now. I guess I was the first one to be not feeling well, but I got over it by last night so it really wasn’t that bad.

The last two days we had lessons in Survival Khmer. The language sounds very cool. It’s very interesting. They are actually giving us the option of taking it with some of the other foreign students (not in our group), but the only thing is that it’s before classes start and you know how good I am about waking up in the morning. I’m really thinking about it though, and I don’t think that waking up should stop me. We won’t get credit in the classes, but I think I would like to learn the language anyway.

Lea haey! (Good-bye!)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I tried to upload some pictures but it is really just taking too long at this internet cafe. When I go to the better one, I'll see if it'll work there. The internet is 75 cents for an hour but the problem is that it doesn't alwasy work and a lot of the cafes are not airconditioned.

Yesterday was the first day of orientation and was a pretty long day but today is going to be more manageable and more interesting (at least for me). We're going to Handicap International which an NGO that provides prosthetic limbs for landmine victimes. We have the opportunity to volunteer there, so there is a definite chance of that for me. I'll probably decide today. Otherwise, there is also a non-profit Children's Hospital in town. We'll see.

Last night we went to see the Apsara dancing, and that was pretty cool. I liked it and they had a buffet, but I think that I ate too much. The food was very yummy especially because there was food from all of South East Asia, and not just Cambodia.

I forget what we're doing tomorrow to be honest, but I think we have a class in Survival Khmer and some other things that are orientation related.

In terms of my itinerary of the rest of the week:

Thursday: Free day so I think we're going to the floating village
Friday: another free day but we have a temple pass so I think I'm going to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat
Saturday and Sunday: TEMPLES TEMPLES
Monday: classes start D:

In Cambodia

Hey everyone,

I'm in Cambodia now, and I love it. I got in really late on Friday night so I pretty much unpacked a bit and went to sleep. Yesterday, I met up with Jo (my roommate), Bryan, and Jodie and we walked around Siem Reap and saw the old market, central market, and the monastery where we'll be studying.

Today was our first day of orientation and we got a basic overview of the program and went the Cambodian Cultural Village where they have miniature replicas of Cambodian monuments and cultural dances and presentations. It was cool, but I'm definitely loking forward to seeing everything in person. Tonight we're going to dinner where they have traditional Cambodian Apsara ballet so I can't wait!

We haven't gone to Angkor Wat yet, but we're going this weekend and we're getting a tour by an archaeologist who does documentaries for the BBC and history channel so that will be definitely be awesome.

I don't think that I'm experiencing culture shock, but I would say that I'm experiencing heat shock. It really is a lot hotter here, but I would say that it's really apparent when you're standing in the sun. When it rains though, it cool down significantly, so I'm very thankful for the rains. I think it's just something that I'll have to get used to.

I didn't get a chance to upload any photos but I'll try soon and have a much longer post. Much love.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Incheon International Airport

I’m at Incheon International Airport very close to Seoul, South Korea. I flew with Asiana Airlines and I found out that they have free guided tours of Seoul that gives you a very brief overview of some of the best sites. This is great considering that I have a 15 hour layover here. Honestly though, if I had to choose any airport to have a layover in, this would be the one. They have huge internet cafés where it’s $3 for 1 hour of high-speed, a cultural center where they teach you how to make Korean handicrafts, and awesome Korean food (even if it is a little overpriced).
So today I got a free tour to Seoul, South Korea from Asiana Airlines (yeah they rock) First they took us to the president’s house which is across the street from Gyeongbukjung Palace. They call the President’s house the Blue House because it has a blue roof (and because of the White House). We got free entry into the Exhibition center there where they gave us a short info tour on the history of South Korea. I learned a couple of things, but it was honestly VERY short. Well, I guess the other reason that I couldn’t pay attention was because there was a parade outside that they have everything Friday. I took plenty of pictures because it was very cool. We saw the roof of the old palace but we didn’t go inside because we didn’t have time. Then they took us to the Korean Folk Village. We spent like 15 minutes there even though I probably could have spent much more time there. It’s a cultural reenactment of Korea in ancient times. The building were very cool and I will make sure to spend a lot more time there when I come back in August.
They took us for a free traditional Korean lunch, but we had to pay like $4 for water. No complaints though about that… it’s worth it for the free food.

Then we went to Itaewon which is a popular tourist shopping district. I didn’t buy anything even though it was tempting because once again I want to wait until August and because I don’t feel like carrying it on the plane.

All in all, it was a very good day so far. I still have about 3 hours here in Seoul and I think I’m going to go make a Korean fan. lol

I’ll try to post when I can in Cambodia.

<3>(wow this internet is insanely fast... totally worth trying to figure what I'm doing with all the Korean symbols everywhere)