Saturday, September 25, 2010

Going to Permanent Site

Today, I took the bus up to Siem Reap city. Tomorrow, I'm heading to my permanent village. I'll be there for the rest of my time in Cambodia and hopefully I'll like it there. I'll be living in my village with a new family and a new town and a new job to get used to. To top it all off I'll be in the village alone, as in the only volunteer. The next volunteer is about 15k away. Pretty much, my job is whatever I make of it. The first few weeks/months I'll just be learning to live again and getting to know people. I have to report to the health center every day, but I really can't do much yet because I need to learn a lot more k'mai. At the schools, it's a little easier to get started because they have a set national curriculum and also english speaking teachers. At the health center, a lot of it is just up to me and my own initiative. It's easy to just sit and give up. I have to make the right connections, identify needs, think of projects, start them, and finish them. There's not really a boss looking over my shoulder to make sure everything is going according to some grand plan. I hope I'm ready for that kind of responsibility because I know some days will be hard. Those days will be the ones where I'll be able to kick myself in the butt and make myself go to work and do what needs to be done.

On a lighter note, today my giant coach bus stopped by the side of the highway to pick up bags of cucumbers.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A few random things

Right now I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Phnom Penh. It's odd, but I never realized, until now, how much coffee shops remind me of home. The last two months I was in New York, I spent going from coffee shop to bakery to library in search of internet so I could study for MCATs and now I'm doing the same (except for the MCATs part, I'm pretty sure I never want to do that again).  Wow, this internet is super fast (for Cambodia). I actually just loaded my first youtube vid in 2 months. And let me tell ya, the adrenalin rush was better than when I get stuck on the top of the rock wall and go into a blind panic.

Something else that reminds me of home is doing aerobics. Picture doing a workout dvd, except your not at home. Instead, your standing in the middle of a huge concrete/tile sidewalk that actually is just a giant divider for one of the busiest streets in the biggest city in Cambodia. There's random music blasting on the speakers and you are surrounded by 20 to 50 year old women and some men. There's about 50 people just sitting on their motos watching you. There's a skinny K'mai guy who looks about 15 doing dance/aerobics moves and everyone is following him in (almost) perfect sync. Depending on whose leading the group, this can actually be an intense workout. Not to mention that it's 90+ degrees/ 80% humidity every single day. I've heard that this type of public exercise is also really popular in China, but that's just a rumor.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Almost done! (with training)

This morning I left my training host family and got on a "van" to Kampong Cham town.  My host mom and little brother started crying as we walked away. It seems strange because I feel like I should be going home to America now. Like I just finished a summer internship and I've learned a lot and now I should be going back to Bowdoin to cram for exams and run around in a snow storm. Instead, I'm going start this all over again. Part of me is really frustrated because I worked so hard to adjust and integrate into the community and right when I feel comfortable it all gets taken away again. The next 3 months will be harder than the last two, mostly because o I will be on my own. It's me and the village. That'll be a good book title.

So because I was leaving this week I decided to loosen my eating principles for a few days. That was a mistake. I think one night I ate so much rice that I had a stomach ache for about 2 hours after because it was just too much. They eat so much rice here. I'm talking a dinner plate mountainful of rice and then they go for seconds. And after the rice I had a pineapple smoothie. My host family has been making fruit smoothies for me for the past week except for a few days where our electricity was out. The last 2 days I've have double meals because I'll eat with my family and then my host aunt will invite me to eat again and I can't say no cause she'll be really disappointed. Also, I really like the food they make. This morning for breakfast I had fried rice with beef and then I had chicken curry with french bread. That's one of the things the french did right here. They left awesome bread behind. If only I could get whole wheat or 12 grain...

On a semi related note, in order to burn off a lot of the rice I've been eating I've been biking more. I'm very proud to say that I biked 15k on dirt, mud, and by the side of a lawless highway.  Though I've biked further here, the 15k was at a fast pace for me and I was exhausted. Unfortunately, the nearest town to mine will be about 15k away so I'll get a lot of practice. Eventaully, I hope that I'll be less dirty and sweaty after 15k because I'm sure my friend's host family will not appreciate a sweaty smelly girl showing up every weekend.

In less than a week i'll be officially sworn in, but before I left this morning my host sister put my hair in pigtail braids and I put on my aviators. I'm going to leave you with that image and the word 'badass'.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back in Phnom Penh

So I did the 3 days with the host fam and also some time back in Siem Reap town. Today we came back to Phnom Penh for the first time since we arrived in Cambodia. The bus took super long. Somehow the people that left an hour after us made it to the hotel before us. After we got to the hotel, Kurt and I tried to go to the Peace Corps HQ, but we ended up getting lost for an hour. It was an adventure. Walking around Phnom Penh, I definitely get the feeling that this is just straight up a city. If Siem Reap was Time Square then Phnom Penh is the nitty gritty business part, without the glitz and glamour. It's weird, but part of me prefers Siem Reap. It's a little more relaxed, with time to just walk around and look. Basically, I can be in a daze and act as touristy as I want in Siem Reap, but Phnom Penh is a bit more stress. One up side to Phnom Penh is that there is a chinatown here. Yea, strange. I had hand drawn noodle soup and dumplings for dinner today and both were really really good. Reminds me of home. Going away from training and Prey Chor really made me realize how easy I had it. I had a host family that understood me and I understood them. I knew how things worked at home and around town. Now I have to learn it all over again and that sort of sucks, but I just gotta deal.

Cute anecdote of the week: While I was with my host family, I was able to teach my baby niece to bow to me. Haha. She is so cute. She's about 1 and loves to run around in shoes that don't fit her.

So, I'll be in Phnom Penh for another day and a half. This means that I will probably be online, usually either early morning(in America) or early evening (in America). Hope to chat with some of you!