Sunday, June 5, 2011

Green Again

It is the beginning of the rainy hot season, and things are starting to get green again! It is suffocatingly hot, but at least things are getting beautiful.

These pictures are from Chhouk, which is a district town in Kampot. I went there to visit some friends for a night.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Tany Health Center

Monday through Friday from 8 am to 11 am I can be found at the Tany Health Center. Everyday I ride my bike to the Health Center (about a 3 kilometer bike ride) and set up a health education table. The table has pamphlets, posters, and booklets on various topics.

I usually hang out near the maternity ward and talk to the pregnant mothers that come in. I mostly focus education on the topics that are the common causes of death in Cambodia (maternal death, diarrhea in children, and respiratory infections in children). Educating people on danger signs and when they should seek medical attention.

By 9:30-10 all of the patients that are going to come have come and gone, so then it is time to chat it up with the staff. We usually talk about food, boyfriends, and how hot it is.

Cute fix

In my kitchen there is one window and very often I have this window open for light and air circulation. Well this window opens to where my host family's water basin is and therefore where their shower is. This is not as scandalous as it seems. Khmer people usually have to shower outdoors due to the lack of bathrooms and as a result they shower with their clothes on. No, it is not the most hygienic thing, but it's how it goes here.

Well the other day I was washing dishes in my kitchen and I heard lots of giggling only to look out my window to see Bpo and Niza.

This is Niza's post bath outfit. Vann will wrap her up elaborately with a towel and Niza will sport it around the house for a while.

New Furniture

When I returned from Vietnam my host family and neighbors were very excited to have me home, not because I had been gone for so long, but because there had been a new addition to my house... Furniture! For the past 7 months I have lived in this house seating has been limited. My seating options were 1) wood plank that's outside 2) my blue plastic chair 3) hammock. Not bad options and all relatively comfortable, but now I have the Cadillac of seating options.

Furniture in Cambodia is made from wood and made for more looks and status than for comfort. And now my house is all kinda of status with two chairs, a love seat, and a coffee table. Granted you have to be a little careful with hardwood furniture in a small space (there have already been incidences of stubbed toes and bumped knees), but it is a fun place to sit, read, eat breakfast, and do occasional work.

My host family, neighbors, Bpo, and Niza, were all quick to tell me the cost of my new furniture (which will stay in the house when I leave, and belongs to my host family), $600. A big hit for any rural Khmer family.

In honor of the month of May (the hottest month I have ever experienced in Cambodia) there has been one other addition to my life in Cambodia... a new fan! Appropriately named Big Blue, he has been a loved new companion.

Unfortunately, Tany just switched to getting its power from Vietnam instead of Cambodia (it is cheaper) and our new power source has been a little unreliable. Usually the power turns off around 8am and does not come back on until 6pm. Thus leaving Big Blue out of commission for hot o'clock (hot o'clock in Cambodia is 11am til 4pm). Here's hoping this will not become a habit!

Friday, May 6, 2011


After Mom left, I had one day to do laundry and then I was off for Vietnam with my friend Ben. After a $40 Visa and 6 hour bus ride, we were in Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam. It was truly a city, with tall buildings, shopping malls (with food courts!), and movie theaters.

We walked all around the city. Visited the Fine Arts Museum.

We went to the movies. In total we saw 8 movies in the two weeks we visited Vietnam. 3 we saw at a movie theater (Rio in 3d, The Roommate, and Big Momma), the others we saw at a restaurant that had a movie theater on the top floor.

We went to the food court in the mall and had Fried Chicken and Cheese burgers.

We walked around town and saw big buildings...

After a week in HCMC, we took a night bus to Nah Trang. It was my first night bus and it was an experience. The seats were small bunk beds.

We spent the next few days in Nah Trang. It was beautiful. There are mountains and white sandy beaches. The weather was perfect, not too hot with a great breeze.

In Nah Trang, we found a brewery and restaurant that had a pool and beach cabanas. We ate great food, played a lot of connect four, laid on the beach, and read a lot.

Overall, my Vietnam vacation was wonderful. It was really relaxing and it was good to get away from Cambodia for a little bit.

Mom's Visit Recap

For two weeks my mom was in Cambodia. It was an amazing time having her here. The days were full of traveling, talking, swimming, touring, sweating, and most importantly... eating!

First we visited Phnom Penh. While in Phnom Penh, we went to see the royal palace. The royal palace is made up of many court yards and buildings. We decided not to pay the extra money for a tour, and instead me and my friend Ben made up what the different buildings were for (i.e. "this building is the royal bowling alley").

We ate at my favorite Chinese restaurant Chinese Noodle. Where they make all their own noodles, and are famous for their dumplings.

After a few days in Phnom Penh, we traveled north to Siem Reap. The home of Angkor Wat.

It was here that mom got to try her first Cambodian barbecue. A Cambodian barbecue includes a variety of meats which you place on a metal grill as you eat. We had chicken, beef, squid, snake, and alligator. Mom was a little nervous, but she tried everything! But her and Mrs Lynda (my mom's friend and neighbor who had always wanted to travel to Cambodia, so she decided to travel here with my mom) mostly stuck to the beef and chicken.

For some reason, we decided to visit Angkor Wat at sunrise. It was very beautiful, but it was too early in the morning for me to be awake.

We visited two of the many, many temples.

After Siem Reap we decided to visit southern provinces, but first we went back to Phnom Penh for a night. This time I took them to my favorite Korean restaurant. We had hot Bipbimbop and Kimchi pancake, my favorite. As we say here, "Chnine Na!" or "Delicious!"

Then we started our travels toward Kampot town. It was then that Ben and I started introducing my mother to things us volunteers eat while we are not staying in hotels. Yep... they are grasshoppers. And yes, they are well seasoned just a little leggy.

On our way to Kampot, we stopped to visit Ben's site, Chim Kiri, to give mom a look at what Cambodia is really like (a.k.a a lot hotter and a lot less foreigners because we are the only foreigners).

Then it was time to visit my site, Tany. We went for the afternoon and had lunch with my host family. After lunch my mom and Lynda gave my host family thank you gifts. I think Bpo and Niza got the best end of that deal! Their favorite gift?... a bubble machine.

Mom was able to see my house for herself and not just pictures. She was even able to play "Find the Frog", but I won by finding 3 frogs and beating her 2.

After visiting Kampot, we visited Kep. Both were very beautiful and relaxing, however I don't have the pictures becuase they are in America.

I only posted some of the pictures here, but all the pictures from mom's visit are on Picasa.