Yet another week has passed by in Phnom Penh. Following my usual Sunday brunch get together with a group of English speaking people, I decided to have a long walk, not at the best time though in the scorching heat of the midday sun, through the city and along the river front to make my way to Wat Phnom, which is set on top of a 27 metre high tree-covered knoll. Apparently many people come here to pray for good luck and success in school exams or business affairs and when a wish is granted, the faithful return to deliver a gift of gratitude, such as a garland of jasmine flowers or a bunch of bananas.
I also went to a lovely restaurant in the week, called Romdeng for a farewell meal with a very nice American lady, whom I met here and who has now left. It is one of several training restaurants in Phnom Penh for former street youth. As well as providing employment for these young people, proceeds from the restaurant are invested into projects for former street children and youth. The choice of food is typically Khmer and includes deep fried spiders, apparently one of Cambodia's
exotic culinary delights!
As well as the restaurants, there are numerous craft shops in Phnom Penh, which are run by organisations to help fund social programs in Cambodia, such as improving the lives of street children and youth, helping disadvantaged women enter the workplace and helping people with disabilities and land mine victims etc.
Still on the subject of food, I did spend one day attending a Cambodian cookery class, which included going to a local market to buy some of the ingredients and then preparing four different dishes, which everybody enjoyed eating afterwards. You can see several pictures of my efforts! It was an interesting and enjoyable day and we were given a cookery book but how much I shall actually cook when I get back home remains to be seen!
I have mentioned to some people already but I have decided to cut my stay short here in Phnom Penh and return back home earlier than expected. I have been here for nine weeks now and feel I have given it a good try but I am really not enjoying the work and for much of the time actually have nothing to do! Also many
View of the actual temple with the Stupa behind, which contains the ashes of a former king, who ruled in the 15th century
of the social contacts I have met have now finished their placements and are returning home. I know that always happens with volunteers but I don't see any others on the horizon, especially those of more mature years! I intend to return in the latter part of June but keep on looking at the blog, as I am going to travel around a bit before coming back. I intend to visit Battambang, Siem Reap and the famous temples of Anghor Wat, make another trip to the coast and hopefully go into Vietnam and visit Ho Chi Minh and the Mekong Delta. As it happens I have already booked a trip for next weekend as there are three days holiday for the king's birthday (Cambodia has well over twenty public holidays I believe!) and am going to visit a small town along the river Mekong called Kratie, where I am hoping to see some Irrawaddy dolphins, which are fast becoming an endangered species, as well as some beautiful sunsets.
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