Sunday, November 21, 2010

November: Week 2

 That Sunday, I go to a wedding that I was invited to. I get up at 5am because I have to be at the house by 6:30am, put on one of the 2 appropriate dresses I own, and head out. It's sort of awkward being all dressed up and walking down the street in front of everyone. People stare and tell me I'm pretty which is a pretty common occurrence, not because I'm exceedingly pretty all the time but because it's just a common compliment to make on a day to day basis. If someone dresses up or does anything different, everyone knows and comments on it. I get to the house right on time and find a long line of chairs. They're red plastic, typical, and placed in pairs facing each other. I'm totally confused and had no clue what to do. My first kmai tutor lives in that house and we started helping put fruit and snacks on the chairs. By fruit and snacks I mean big baskets with ribbons. They're all arranged to be offered at the wedding. Eventually, people started showing up and I am totally underdressed. When I get a chance to upload pictures, you'll all realize that it's pretty easy to be underdressed at a wedding. After putting the fruit on the chairs everyone picks a seat. Eventually, all the seats are filled then we pick up the offering and form a procession down the street. Men playing instruments lead us down the street and we walk a about 1 k to the wedding house. Then we file in and sit down. There's a band, but they accompany these two comedian/hosts. As far as I can tell, they know all the motions of the ceremony, but they also crack a lot of jokes, sing, and dance. After the ceremony we all eat rice porridge, which is wayyy more delicious than it sounds because its cooked not just with water but in a really good chicken soup. Everyone eats as fast as they can because they all want to go home, which is sort of strange considering they got SOOOO dressed up for the event.

So we all leave and wait until around 11. I put on my second dress, my host sister and aunts also dress up. My host sister went to Siem Reap the day before and bought a pink prom dress for 30 bucks, which is a lot of money here. Pink prom dresses are an example of typical attire for weddings. We did our makeup and put on heels and everything. When we finally get to the wedding it's just like a big buffet with an open bar, but I don't drink anything because women typically don't drink here. We get some really good food, but I notice my host sister isn't eating much. Usually she could eat an entire horse herself, but still stay stick skinny. It turns out her dress is too tight and she can't eat. On my other side just so happens to be the host sister of another volunteer. It's a small country. Oddly enough, we once again want to book it out of there even though we put in so much effort to be there. All the while, music is blasting. If you've been to a rock concert you experienced about the same amount of music blasting except we were not really far from the speakers on the stage. We were next to them. It seems that my efforts to keep my hearing will be completely wrecked because there's no concept of going deaf because the volume is too loud here. At the end of the buffet, we put our money in envelopes and quickly flee the wedding.

The next day I visit more villages and help in the Center with Vitamin A dispension. Then, Tuesday is a holiday so no work. It's a pretty typical day. Get up at 5:30 and brush my teeth. Eat my waffles, bananas, and peanut butter for breakfast. Then I do my laundry. It's sort of meditative and a work out at the same time because I repetitively handscrub my clothes for about an hour and a half. I hang them up to dry and start reading a book. I sing a little with my host sister and then after lunch a random van shows up. It turns out that the 5 students living with me are going to Siem Reap City for a day. They ask me and my sister to go to and I agree because they said they would be back early and that they had to go to school the next day at 7. I was worried tht I wouldn't get back in time for work the next day, but it seemed logical that they wouldn't miss school. So off we go. Spontaneous random trip to Siem Reap. We are driving along and i start becoming concerned because I have no idea where we are going. We drive on the bumpy road up a mountain and we end up at a big fish shop. We get out and there's just piles and piles of fish everywhere. I am thoroughly confused. Turns out that we were meeting the parents of the students. Behind the shop is a huge lake called the TonleSap. We walk down the street back to the van and someone whispers to me that there are a lot of Vietnamese people here.I ask them why and they reply that its because they are good at fishing. Anyway, we get back in the van and actually do drive to the city, but with the parents too. It takes about an hour to find the hotel then everyone showers and changes, even though 2 hours ago they changed to get into the van. I only brought pajamas so I just put on my "old" clothes. We went to a big restaurant, ate good food, and then went to Angkor Cyoon yoo. I've been here once before. It's a carnival with rides and games and food. It was a lot of fun though the rusty ferris wheels and small rollercoasters sometimes felt like I was risking life and limb.

Overall it was a fun day.  I thought we would be going back, but we didn't and it was too late for me to get my own ride back. The next morning, I didn't get back until 11 because, even though we woke up at 4am, we didn't leave the hotel until 7, didn't finish breakfast until 8, and didn't get out of the market until 10. Throughout this morning I was fielding calls from America, call my HC director, and my kmai tutor trying to make me go to an impromptu meeting with RHAC. Plus my cell battery was dieing. Somehow, it all ended up working out and work was cancelled because and RACHA decided to start a 2 week training for village health volunteers. I ended up being able to meet up with RHAC, another NGO, later that week.

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