Wanted to write a little post about the Life and Hope Association the in-country organization that I worked with in Cambodia.
The Life and Hope Association's goal is to improve the lives of orphans, vulnerable children and disadvantaged peoples in the Siem Reap area of Cambodia. It is based in the Pagoda called Wat Damnak. The LHA was started by the monks at the pagoda, they have added more staff and taken on many more challenges in the past couple of years. Here are some of the projects that they are working on in Siem Reap.
I am back in the states and have an awesome case of jet lag. Today I managed to sleep until 5am which is way better then yesterday which was 2am. So I have a bunch of posts in the pre-written stage about the rest of my trip that I will be posting this week. My schedule is that I am flying back to DC on Monday and will be trying to find a new place to live by the 1st. So if you know if anything let me know. Onto the post.
There are a lot of temples at the Angkor Wat complex so I wanted to highlight some of the others that we went to see.
Besides the large Bayon temple when you come into the complex there are these massive gates that have huge statues that on one side are demons and the other side are the gods pulling the large naga snake god. This one gate is the only one (out of 4) that still has the heads to all the gods and demons (I am sitting with a demon). They are pretty awesome.
I am leaving for the airport in an hour. I can't believe I have been here a month! It doesn't feel that long. Things I am going to miss:
So my bike I actually gave to Mr. Pe here at the hotel, he is about 20, was only in school until 6th grade and wants to learn english but didn't have anyway of getting to the english classes so he is now the owner of my bike. There are three other bikes going to the kids and Mr. Pe has been at the hotel the entire time and when I come back he is always trying to learn english so I help him with pronunciation.
Since I haven't really posted about much of the daily life. Food post for the foodies. Surprisingly, Cambodian food is really not spicy. At all. The two main Khmer foods are Curry which while not spicy is really good. It is heavy on the fresh coconut milk and very creamy and usually includes onion, potato, pumpkin and whatever meat you ask for. It is really good. You can ask for chilies to make it spicier, but I don't think it needs to be spicy. The other main Khmer dish is called ämok which is steamed fish wrapped in a banana leaf with a different curry and morning glory. What they refer to as morning glory is not what I think we would call morning glory. It sort of looks like a leafy vegetable, but I can't think of what it would be in the US. Amok is also very good, at every restaurant it is a little different but usually tastes like a green curry.
So I have written this post already once and I am at an internet cafe and right as I was finishing the computer restarted. So I am so pissed, this post will probably be shorter then my original one. ARRRGGHHH!
Anyway - More of my pictures have finally uploaded. My Bayon Temple photos have now uploaded. Bayon is part of the Angkor Wat park but more specifically part of the Angkor Thom set of temples.
Angkor Thom was built as a square, the sides of which run exactly north to south and east to west. Standing in the exact center of the walled city, Bayon Temple represents the intersection of heaven and earth. Built around 1190 AD by King Jayavarman VII, Bayon is a Buddhist temple but it incorporates elements of Hindu cosmology.
Bayon is known for its huge stone faces of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, with one facing outward and keeping watch at each compass point. The curious smiling image, thought by many to be a portrait of Jayavarman himself, has been dubbed by some the "Mona Lisa of Southeast Asia." There are 51 smaller towers surrounding Bayon, each with four faces of its own.
It has been a few days because I have not had an internet connection, either the hotel wasn't working or there was someone on the computer. So I have forgone the free computer and am now at an internet cafe. The .25 an hour is fine.
So this week I have been teaching at a night school at Wat Damanak. It is a free school for anyone who wants to come. Everyone is between 16 - 22 so very different from my elementary school kids. The best part - my second class has 2 "baby monks" they are both 17 and adorable in their orange robes. The second teacher is also a monk and he is super nice and has only been learning english for 3 years and is very good. It is kind of fun to have almost a conversation with the kids in the class. they are close to understanding me, but the teachers usually have to translate a little. it is quite nice to have someone who can speak khmer and pretty good english at the same time so when I try to explain something they can actually explain.
Yesterday in their book, we were learning the past perfect and I have to say I had no idea what that was. Good thing I had the answers. We also did the difference between Fortunately and Unfortunately.
I got more pictures uploaded finally after many hours of trying.
Here are all the rest of my photos from the main Angkor Wat temple. My pictures do not depict the scale of the reliefs that are on the walls of the temple because my pictures are up close and the walls are 500 meters long. so my pictures are showing maybe .05% of each wall.
I have also been able to upload all the pictures of my classes. They are such a cute bunch. We took pictures by rows so there are some rows of all boys (and they are trying to act cool in the pictures) and then rows of girls and some are mixed. Really there are just a lot of kids.
Well I have now been here for two weeks. It is going really well. I have now learned about 15 kids names out of 150 so I am doing terrible at that, but there are so many and I can't pronounce their names. I also think half of them are giving me fake names for me to say bad words in Khmer. We are still struggling a little with the alphabet and the numbers, but they are all doing much better. We did give out spongebob squarepants stickers when they got something right this week and that was a HUGE hit. Spongebob is universal.
Hello - Catching everyone up on what has been happening. I went to Ankgor Wat and the surrounding temples over the weekend. It was amazing, they are massive and intricate and beautiful and amazing and my pictures do not do them justice. Even up close it doesn't look real. We went to the "tomb raider" temple called Thom Phron which is the one temple that they didn't clear up and fix from the jungle so the trees have grown over so much of it and breaking it up. Its beautiful. A lot of them you could climb up to the top with these sketchy stairs and my fear of heights was tested over and over again trying to get down. This other temple called Bayon has all these towers and on each side of the tower are these faces. There are like 30 different towers at different levels with all these faces carved into the rocks, it is really cool looking. I will try to put up my pictures soon.
Hi everyone - I have finished up my first "week" of teaching and I am really getting to know the area here. The kids at the school are cute and some of them want to learn. There are 50 kids in each class and it is hot so I think it is hard for them to keep focus. I know I have a hard time focusing in the heat. We learned the alphabet with the fifth graders and the 6th graders we did the months of the year. Some of the kids take private english lessons on the side so they already know this stuff, but the poorer kids don't and everyone can use some practice.
There is a reason why I am not working at the orphanage called the Children's Development Village (CDV) it is because if I or anyone spends more then a few hours there you will have to take one of these kids home.
Um hello! how cute is she. And I didn't even take this picture. One of the kids took my camera and took all the pictures here. They are great. I think he was 5. They also really liked my sunglasses and are f-ing adorable in them. We played volleyball and went on the swings and read books and colored. Seriously, I cannot go back here without stealing one of them.
All the pictures are here. (still uploading, internet connection a little slower here and I need to go to bed.)
I have now been in Siem Reap for 24 hours. Here are initial thoughts and things that are goingo on:
Last day before the big trip. Don't worry I will still be posting. Probably not until sunday at the earliest since I have a billion hours of flying tomorrow.
First Leg - Siem Reap Cambodia. I will be staying here:
And working with this organization:
The papers are signed, the plane tickets are purchased. I am leaving for 2 months starting January 4. The first month from January 6th - February 4th, I will be working with United Planet in Siem Reap Cambodia at an orphanage. I am raising money for this trip and for United Planet and if you would like to donate (end of the year tax-deductible donation). I would really appreciate it.
More details to come as they firm up.