Monday, July 26, 2010

Going to the village

So, this keyboard has all the keys but tis really sticky so not every key will come out.

Today was sort of a sad day because we got split up into our village training groups. The 50 or so people I've been with get split and sent to 3 villages tomorrow. I'll see them once in a while when we come into town, but this is goodbye for now. It's also a really exciting time because we're all meeting our host families tomorrow! I've been studying K'mai for about 3 days and hopefully I won't make a complete fool of myself. I know how to introduce myself, order food in a restaurant (as long as it has stirfry and rice), and the members of my family.

OMG the tv in the hotel lobby suddenly started speaking English. It's some HBO show with soldiers in either Iraq or Afghanistan that I don't recognize. This is blowing my mind right now and I've only been out of the country for a week. Two days ago, I caved and spent 4.50 on a burger. $4.50 american dollars is a fortune out here. Usually my meals are about a dollar. The money system here is really interesting. They use Cambodian riels interchangeably with american dollars, though if you flash anything bigger than a 10 they think you're rich. If you're not Asian, they also probably think you''re rich. Comparatively, you probably are. I cringe now when I spend over a buck fifty on food. The per capita gross domestic product here is less than $2,000. In America, it's about $40,000. That's how crazy the disparity is. Here, if you're rich you can get away with murder, though that happens in America too.

The soldiers are singing Jay-z. i miss Jay-Z. Write to you all in a week?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Settling in

So, this keyboard has all its letters rubbed off. Bear with me as i try to type correctly. These past few days have been amazing. Each day I've been in a new country or city. Last night was the first time I slept in the same bed twice. I'll try to go through it all briefly in chronological order. Monday I landed in San Fran for orientation. That was just exhausting. I was up for about 21 hours that day and I ate about 5 peppermints in the afternoon because I was starving. Flying Virgin America was awesome, but the food is super expensive. We all went out to eat together and I met all the awesome people I've been traveling with. The next day we checked out at 8am and spent the day in the airport. Flying to Hong Kong is a marathon.

We got there around 6pm the next day and since we're all jet lagged and crazy, we went to see the town. It looks almost exactly like Chinatown, but with a lot of hills. I did not like the hills. Got up early the next day and took Dragon Air to Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh is awesome. I was only there for a day but we got to ride in these cool taxis called tuk-tuks. Basically, the driver is on a motorcycle and it pulls along this carriage, sort of a smaller version of the central park carriages. For a dollar or so you can get around town really quick. I love it because in NYC i can never afford a taxi. We met all these Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) that showed us around and it was amazing. After a year or two they were all fluent in K'mai and It really gave me something to aspire to. Phnom Penh itself is, i think, the largest city in Cambodia. It's sort of similar to Shanghai, but without all the new development and buildings. Here we did a day and half of orientation and getting a lot of stuff done.

The next day we took a bus to Kampong Cham Province. The town we're in is also city like. It has a huge market and vendors and everything we really need, except tp. Here we did more orienting. We met out LCFs, Cambodians who know English and are going to teach us the language and culture. They are great. Really nice and friendly and they are great teachers. I feel like I'm learning so much everyday. It takes all my energy to just keep myself focused. Every interaction and observation has to be remembered. It really is a 24/7 job. I didn't really feel jet lagged until I got to Kamponf Cham. Ready to sleep at 6pm and I cant helpo but wake up at like 4 or 5 am. I am wide awake at 4am. Today I got my new mountain bike. For those of you that know, I am not good on a bike. Not to mention there are NO traffic rules in Cambodia. So, I really am not ready to go out on my bike in the city. Luckily I'll be going to my training village soon and I'll be sure to practice my bike skills. Today is Sunday, my off day. So i'm a bit more coherent now, but I am having a full day tomorrrow. No idea what it will be like though.

If you want to call check the time difference. I'm usually free at night, not too late though and on Sunday! I am ahead, so right now its 1pm on Sunday, but 1 am Sunday in America. Calling instructions are in my previous post.

Packages anyone? I need bike lube so my new bike doesnt rust and die.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

calling me

phone number on my blog, i have to pay 20 cents a min on a small budget so i probably wont call home. think about time difference and im usually busy from 7am to 8pm. it's free for me if you call and it wayy cheaper if you buy a phone card online or skype my phone or something. you can also email. i'll try to check for the next 2 nights. here are instructions:

My phone is pay per min so I will try to conserve money. I am most free on Sundays. That is my off day so i will be more likely to pick up, but remember I am half a day ahead of everyone so sunday afternoon your time is monday morning my time. This keyboard is so frustratinggggg. haha. it took me like half an hour to type these last two paragraphs.

luckily i have plenty of time because by 5:30 am jet lag woke me up. Jess, i totally understand how you feel now. It was so much easier as a kid when i could just sleep whenever i wanted until the jet lag went away. awesome. off to breakfast. i love the food so far. no big suprises. i did have a cricket yesterday. it just always makes me think of all those hours i spent in lab disecting them. icky. but it tastes pretty good, i prefer foods with less small parts though. I swear this blog will clean up soon. Correct spelling and all.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'm leaving tomorrow!

This post will have to last all of you for the next 5 days at least because that seems like the length of time it'll take me to make the entire trip to where ever I'll be living for the next 2-3 months during the training period. I'm getting on my 7am flight tomorrow (flying Virgin America, sounds fancayy) to San Fran. I'll be in San Fran for one night and fly to hong kong the next day. Since the flight to Hong Kong is about 14 hrs I'll land in Hong Kong at 6pm their time, the next day. I'll get to spend a night in Hong Kong and then I'm flying DragonAir (that's right, it's a dragon) to Phnom Penh. I'll stay in Phnom Penh for one night and go on to the mysterious "Training Hub Site" the next day. I will be training in Kampong Cham Province, with three possibilites for which district I'll end up living in during this time. Either Tbong Kmoung, Prey Chor, or Chamkar Leu.

 I will probably have sporadic email and communication during the first 2-3 months because it's not my permanent site. Everything will be changing rapidly for me and I probably won't be able to keep in touch very well. I won't even have access to all of my belongings during this time so please be patient.

I'll miss all of you so much, but I'm sure this time will fly by for all of us. Life goes on.

PS: I'll probably be updating my contact info because I've been given like 3 different mailing addresses and it's really confusing right now. so stay tuned...and email me or comment lots!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


It's strange, but I didn't realize how much changed on that day that I graduated until today. Until I found myself, literally, pacing back and forth in my basement because I couldn't bring myself to do anything else. I am on the edge of something and I don't know if I want time to move forward or slow down. I know every moment is a gift, something precious. At the same time, what these next few days, weeks, years hold for me is constantly on the horizon, huge and yet unimaginable. What should I do? I need to pack. I need to clean my room. Get ready. I also need to go on facebook, check my email for the trillionth time today, watch tv, read my current book, plan for tomorrow. All these things on my list, but all I do is think about time. Time has become a mindset. If I want this week to go by quickly, it will. If I want it to be excruciatingly slow, it can be. But, what do I want?

I can say right now, and this will always be true, that I am so grateful for all of my friends and family. The biggest reason I want time to move faster is so I can go to my next dinner date with a friend or so my roommates will get to NYC sooner! Even though Cambodia is less than 2 weeks away, my mind is mostly focused on who I'm going to meet up with next. Maybe it's some strange coping mechanism, but I can picture very clearly holding hands and skipping through time square with Nandini, Nehal, Kerry, and Jess. I can't even describe how much I look forward to seeing everyone these next two weeks.