Sunday, May 22, 2011

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

A New Day Cambodia

Yesterday we had the chance to visit a school in Phnom Penh called A New Day Cambodia (ANDC). The children at this school were once scavengers at the local dump where they could earn a profit for their family. ANDC now pays the families the money that these children would have made as scavengers so that they can attend school. We had the opportunity to make friendship bracelets and sing with them.

Just like John Stamos, they have stolen our hearts... and they won't give them back.

Wait for the video to load. We PROMISE that it will be worth it.

The words to their song goes a little like this:

Watermelon, watermelon
Papaya, papaya
Bananananana, bananananana
Fruit salad, fruit salad

video

Check out A New Day Cambodia's website here: http://www.anewdaycambodia.org/

Monday, May 24, 2010

pLEASE bear with us and our LIMited blogging skills..

We wrote this blog post on Thursday morning. We were sure we would have tons and tons of time on the Internet, but only minutes into the post we lost connection to the Internet. Better late than never, right?

We have a lot of time with the Internet today, so we thought it would be a good time to show off some pictures of our trip so far.

Here is Allison at the airport in Tai pei, Taiwan. Our departure gate was in the basement of the airport and completely deserted. What else can you do but take a picture and wait? We waited and people finally arrived. We made it to Phnom Penh with little trouble.




One of the first places that Sue took us when we arrived was a cafe called The Shop. It's a place she can go when Cambodia feels like too much to handle, and needs a little reminder of home. We loved these quotes on the wall and felt that the second quote, about food being universal, has been so true of our trip so far.

On our first weekend we traveled via bus to a nearby beach town called Sihanoukville. From the bus window we captured a typical morning on the streets of Phnom Penh.

We spent two nights in Sihanoukville at a Guest House with a pool. On the full day that we were there we went to the local resort and hung out by the pool, sipped coconut juice from coconuts, and swam in the ocean. Very successful trip if you as u
s.


We arrived back in Phnom Penh on Saturday afternoon and were able to attend Sue's school graduation banquet that night. We raided Sue's closet for appropriate formal attire and Sue herself was able to wear her handwoven silk traditional Cambodian get-up. Look at how beautiful she looked - even more than usual. You should have seen the heads turning on our drive to the venue - it was as if we had the Queen sitting in our tuk tuk.

As we've mentioned before it is REALLY hot here - we've been told that this month is the hottest it's been in a while. As a result you seek out air con wherever you are - when the power goes out at Sue's place, we head to Sovanna. Sovanna is a wonderful shopping mall land of ice cream, frozen yogurt, clothing, and DVD's. We have discovered Sang Sang DVD with the help of Sue and her roommate Anne (or Auntie Anne as we like to call her). Not only are DVD's insanely cheap, they also demonstrate what a person can do with satellite TV, word processing, and a few English skills.

Sue's house helper Thai brings in hand woven silk from the provinces to be sold in Phnom Penh. We've had a few silk parties with Thai and the other night we all purchased our favourite hol from her. Thai is a very good salesperson, each time she unfolds another beautiful length she holds it up to herself and models it as a skirt for us. When in
Cambodia you join in the fun and do as Thai does.





On Tuesday we helped Sue with Reading Testing. While asking a student comprehension questions about a story that had NOTHING to do with dogs, the following conversation took place:

Allison: If you could call this book something different what would you call it?
Student: Dogs
Allison: Oh? Why would you call it dogs?
Student: Well, cause I like dogs
Allison: Fair enough.

Yesterday we went to the Royal Palace, where the King lives. We toured the grounds and saw the most beautiful architecture, sculptures, and tile work.

It has been our goal to take a picture of the monks in their vibrant orange robes - something we weren't sure was allowed. Instead, we m
ade friends with the men in orange. The conversation began innocent enough with topics such as Canada, the weather, education, and Buddha. However, somehow the conversation ended with the question "So, are you two married?" Had we been a little more friendly we may have returned to Canada as a party of four.



With the rolling brown outs in Phnom Penh we have discovered a whole new respect for the students at Sue's school. Their ability to write final exams in classrooms without air con and navigate the pitch black bathrooms is nothing short of miraculous.


This post is becoming ridiculously long, but before we finish we want to share something that we have learned in the last couple of days. Before coming to Cambodia we encouraged our family and friends to invite Cambodia into their story, and still feel that this is so very important. But yesterday, while riding on the Tuk Tuk, Sue said, "I am so grateful that Cambodia has allowed me to be a part of its story." We already feel like we are being invited into Cambodia's story as we have experienced the kindness and accepting nature of the people. They may laugh at our poor attempts at speaking Khmer but they have been such a big part of what has made our trip so joyful so far.


Tomorrow we leave for Vietnam! We can't wait to experience another culture in Southeast Asia
.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hello Everyone!

Sara and I are currently in Vietnam for the weekend! We wrote the most lovely blog post on Thursday with pictures and all but we couldn't get it to post. We will try again when we get back to Cambodia, and hopefully will be able to tell you about our time in Vietnam too. The internet here is slightly tricky to come by.

Keep Well,

Allison and Sara

Sunday, May 16, 2010

We still exist, I promise!


We have had very limited Internet access so there has been little time to update our Cambodia blog. We hope to update everyone when we have the time, and we have the time and Internet access now, so here we are!

We have been in Cambodia for the last week and are just beginning to adjust to the heat and humidity. The culture is so different and we often find ourselves saying, "WHOA, you would never see that in Canada." i.e. A man on the back of a moto holding onto a TV with one arm OR a five person family, including infant, riding on one moto.



The food is absolutely delicious and the fruit is so fresh and yummy. We have been trying all kinds of fruit that we have never even heard of! It is so hot and air conditioning is so glorious. You know it's hot when 27 degrees Celsius feels cool.

We spent this past weekend at a beach only a couple of hours outside of Phnom Penh. The bus ride was an adventure in itself as we passed building after building, and then palm tree after palm tree, followed by rolling hills and tiny towns. It seemed that every time we looked out the window there was something new to look at, new scenery to enjoy. We stayed two nights at the beach and greatly enjoyed the pool right outside our door and the BBQ meal. YUM! We spent a day at the closest resort, enjoyed coconut juice right out of a coconut, and swam in the Bay of Thailand. On the bus ride home Sue had a glamorous three hour conversation with a French man. We were all impressed.

On Saturday night we had the chance to attend the High-School Graduation Banquet for Sue's school. On Sunday we spent time with Sue's friends at church, the local mall, and Russian market. We have purchased a few too many DVD's from "Sang Sang DVD" where you can buy DVD's for merely pennies... well almost.

Today we are helping Sue with reading testing and sitting in on some of her classes. The kids here are so ridiculously brilliant. We can't get over how much they know and their desire to learn. We are constantly surprised by the passion of their teachers and the spirit of the people here. There are so many stories to share and we can't wait to share more here soon.

Keep Well,

Allison and Sara


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hello everyone!

We are currently waiting to leave for the airport in approximately 20 minutes! Eeek!! Before we leave we thought we'd share some of our favourite responses that we get when we tell people we are going to Cambodia. please enjoy..we sure do.

1. "Oh, what part of Africa is that?"

2. "Interesting....did you choose to go there?"

3. "I had a friend who went there once, they said they'd never go back."

4. "Have you written up your will?"

5. "Did you give someone power of attorney?"

6. "I had a nephew who went overseas once, he never came back."


...So maybe we made up the one about the will, but we swear the other ones are true. Of course we've also heard LOTS of good things about Cambodia as well and that's why we're going!

Bon voyage!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

This time I made a video... why not mix things up a little!

video

We leave for Cambodia in three sleeps!
I keep telling myself not to panic... PANIC!