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 us.
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?
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 made 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.