Published: February 24th 2013February 23rd 2013
Only crazy Laura would sit out in the afternoon sun and draw monkeys on a wall!
We arrived at school on Monday morning
to find ABC's in lockdown. Assembly was in progress when we arrived, with the kids sitting in rows on the concrete instead of standing. Tammy and Long, the Khmer principal, were sitting on chairs in front of them. Tammy had something to say and Long repeated her words in Khmer, to be sure all the kids understood.
In the past fortnight, there have been two incidents of money theft from volunteers, the latest being last Friday. The first time, a wallet was taken from a backpack left in one of the classrooms and on Friday money was taken from a handbag in the office. Tammy is angry and embarrassed to think that one of 'her children' would do this, and is determined to get to the bottom of it.
At assembly the children were told of what has happened. Tammy told them how disappointed and sad she was, how ABC's wouldn't exist without volunteers, and how the person who did this wasn't concerned for anyone but themselves. She continued, saying that she hoped that someone would come to the office by the end of the day and admit to their mistake. All privileges
The Mural Wall
A croc has been added, snapping at the heels of the zelephant..
have been withdrawn, and ABC's is now running as if there were no volunteers. To the kids this means no sport, no music and no craft. Even the ice cream man who lingers outside the gates at recess is now out of bounds. Lessons are still held, so we still do our English reading class twice a day, but all the fun stuff is on hold until this problem is sorted.
By the end of morning lessons, several kids had come forward and there were three suspects in the office. Tammy called in parents and a friend, who just happened to be head of Police in Siem Reap. After several hours of interrogation, the two younger kids were allowed to go. The third one, an eleven year old girl, finally admitted to being the guilty one. Her downfall, and the reason she was found out was because she had come to school with US dollars, which other students had seen and were quick to mention. Also the two younger students, whom she had tried to bribe, turned on her to save their own skins. The children at ABC's are from very poor families. If they had any money at
The Mural Wall
Next is a sun bear and a peacock ...
all, it would be Cambodian Riels, not US dollars. The remainder of the day passed uneventfully, for us anyway. We did our lessons, painted the mural, and headed home at 5.00pm
. On Tuesday afternoon
we didn't return to school for afternoon lessons. Instead we stayed in our air conditioned rooms and enjoyed a lazy couple of hours. We don't work on the mural after lunch. The sun is on the wall and it's far too hot. Later we walked into town and enjoyed a steak meal, the first we've eaten since leaving home.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday passed in the same vein. Our lives follow a routine here, based around school. First thing we do on coming home is throw ourselves in the shower to wash off the sweat and dust of the day. If we get a hot one, well, that's a bonus! Quite often we stay in at night, the effort of ordering a tuk tuk, going to Pub Street or any of the numerous bar/restaurants between here and there, is more than we can contemplate. We know as soon as we step outside we'll get dirty and dusty again and need to shower (again!) before
Give ME the Hose!
Ginny and Dougall having friendly banter over who's turn it is to play with the water..
going to bed. Staying in and eating whatever's in the fridge, only 40 steps down and 40 steps up again, is the more attractive option.
It's Friday night
and we have a three day weekend to look forward too! Monday is a public holiday - Meak Bochea Day. This is a Buddhist festival day which falls on the full moon day of the third lunar month, which is February. This day celebrates the veneration of Buddha and his teachings, and has three spiritual aims - to do only good, not to commit any sins and to purify one's mind. All the pagodas around Siem Reap will be busy...
We got the weekend off to a good start with a quiz night at Molly Malone's Irish Bar, on Friday night
. All monies raised go to ABC's so everyone was there. Our team managed to limp in second last, but we outshone everyone with raffle wins - a bottle of wine, a t-shirt from a dirt bike tour company and two tickets to Phare - The Cambodian Circus, worth $20 each. This circus is an NGO (Non Government Organization) which gives youths from deprived backgrounds the chance to learn circus
Out in the Countryside
A scene from our Saturday morning ride.
skills, and is internationally renown . It has been in Siem reap for only a few weeks. Overall the night raised $800 for ABC's, an awesome result. As you can imagine, Tammy was pleased.
This quiz night kicks off a week of fund raising for Tammy, building up to the big event - The Chicken Run. This involves Tammy and Charlie, Globalteers sports co-ordinator, cycling from Siem Reap to Poipet on the Thai border and back, a total of 500klm. Certainly no chicken run in this heat. Money raised by this ambitious ride will go to Full Belly Farm, and possibly toward buying more chickens for the chicken run! There are twenty chickens settled into their new home already but I know they want about forty more, all for eggs, not the pot! Ginny has taken to collecting food scraps from the Globalteer House kitchen and taking them to school for the hens every couple of days. They see her coming and swarm around her feet, in anticipation, whenever she enters their coup.
On Saturday we decided to head out of the town area on our bikes. I had a map of a 5klm walk which we decided
Out in the Countryside
Saturday morning ride again.
to ride. Just as well, I think we missed a turn somewhere, and covered much more than 5klm by the time we returned to town. We headed south down Wat Bo Road, turned left at the T intersection, then right at the next junction and just kept on riding. Eventually the bitumen finished and we were on a gravel road. We kept riding until we reached the highway (St.63) then did a quick right turn onto it and headed back into town. We then turned down Pokambor Avenue, which follows the river, and ended up back at the Old Market. We rode across Old Market Bridge to visit Wat Damnak, which is the biggest pagoda in Siem Reap, and then returned to The Old Market to pass some time browsing the stands. I bought a small wooden Buddha head, which I was told, was around 50 years old. I suspected it was old when I picked it up and am pleased I found it amount the 100's he had on display. A good buy, I think, for $10.
We can see how beautiful the countryside must be in the wet season, when the rice paddies are green. The paddies
are visible now but only hold the dry remnants of the last crop which is left lying fallow or being eaten by very fat water buffalo. We had a quick bite to eat at The Blue Pumpkin and headed back to our air conditioned rooms for an easy afternoon. Tonight
we meet the crew from ABC's at Viva Mexican Restaurant for a meal and the much anticipated Giant Puppet Parade.
The Giant Puppet Parade is Cambodia's biggest community arts event for children and has been held annually for the past six years, this year being the seventh. The project invites disadvantaged children from local schools, NGO's and shelters to take part in puppet making workshops led by students from the Phare Ponlue Selpak Arts School, based in Battambang. This is the same school which teaches the kids in the Phare Circus. The mission is to promote confidence and self expression through art. The young puppet makers will carry their rattan and paper creations on poles, Chinese Dragon dance style, from Pub Street to the Royal Independence Gardens opposite the Royal Residence.
The parade wasn't a big one, with only eight giant puppets in total. We had a traditional
Another Water Buffalo
A very well fed buffalo grazing by the side of the highway.
music group, performers from the Phare Circus, the Cambodian Scouts marching band, and lots of noisy excited children to add to the carnival atmosphere. We followed the procession to the gardens where there was a night of fun activities being held for the kids, and we were able to get a closer look at their creations.
Sunday was another slow start, but what's the rush? We didn't leave Globalteer House until 12.30pm
, bound for the Angkor National Museum. We had originally decided to skip the museum, and it really wouldn't have mattered if we did. Admission is usually $12, but we flashed our Globalteer ID and got through the door for $6. There are seven halls of exhibits, plus the Gallery of 1000 Buddha images, which is the first exhibit you see. And I thought I had a lot of Buddhas! The entire museum is full of statues, mainly sandstone and some wood, dating back to the 8th century. There is a lot of reading to do, none of which we will remember, and we were both tired of it all by the time we got to the last gallery. If there was more variety in the exhibits, it
Out in the Countryside
Another photo taken on Saturday morning
would have been more interesting. When we pushed open that last door, and found ourselves in the gift shop, we breathed a sigh of relief! A quick look around and we were on our bikes and gone.
We headed back to Pub Street for a meal as it was 3.00pm
and we had missed lunch. We went to The Old House Restaurant and ordered refreshing watermelon juice drinks and a meal, for a total cost of $9.50. Then back on our bikes and home to Globalteer House. Not going anywhere tonight
except to bed with my new kindle book. Bliss!
There are more photos below