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Published: January 26th 2010
here's one for you, Maddy
Please keep the questions coming--it helps me focus!
You can click on photo to enlarge it.
I got up this morning and figured that if I waited in the hotel restaurant someone from my tour would show up, which they did. Eventually I took several people over to the old market, where I didn't find a funnel but did find inexpensive dried kaffir lime leaves, which are hard to find in the US these days.
Our tour first went to Sala Bai,
a training restaurant, for lunch. Here's their blurb: Created in 2002 by the French NGO “Agir Pour Le Cambodge”, Sala Baï is a free hotel school based in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Each year, the school, trains 100 young disadvantaged Cambodians to the four main professions of the hospitality industry: restaurant waiter/waitress, cook, receptionist & housekeeping attendants.
During the 12-month training, the school covers all the training fees (lessons, school supplies, books, uniforms), and daily expenses (accommodations, food, bicycle, insurance and medical expenses) for the students.
After an orientation meeting, we visited a Buddhist temple (wat) and received a water blessing. You'd have thought a decorator said something like, "And scatter around a crate or two
Water ceremony with kittens
They're easier to see if you enlarge the photo
of cats." A number of tiny kittens (note to the Randoms: These cats made the Tinycat family look huge) were curled up against the monk who gave the blessing; since this involved shaking water on us, several of the kittens decided to move nominally farther away, settling on John, a member of our tour.
From the bus ride to Happy Family Orphanage I spotted a blue-tailed bee-eater at the stream. This orphanage split off from but still abuts another orphanage. It houses over 40 children. We were able to talk with a few of them and see their living quarters. Their new kitchen is under construction. We gave them $200 via Bhavia earlier in the week, which they used to buy dried fish and other staples at the market. Today we gave them some very attractive children's picture books bout animals, in Khmer and English.
We stopped at the royal botanical garden to see the fruit bats hanging from the trees (really, a lot of fruit bats) and there was an apsara dance performance going on in the temple there. The king's daughter was in attendance. The monarchy is a figurehead with no political power, but much-loved by
Meditation aid, hindrance, or both?
the Cambodian people (I read recently that 80% say they'd prefer to have the monarchy restored rather than the present coalition government).
Over dinner at the hotel, I had a nice conversation with Jeffry, a former Methodist minister, about syncretic religion and how he describes for himself something like having a monk tie a red "good luck" string around his wrist (which I didn't do, though I participated in the rest of the ceremony). We wound up talking about Fowler's stages of religious development, Joseph Campbell, Karen Armstrong's books, and east and west coast Quakers.
It's interesting to be in Cambodia with a group again--I haven't been for over 3 years. It's enjoyable but also cumbersome. I have to get out of the mindset that time waiting for the group or the bus or whatever is time that could be spent doing interviews or making friendship visits to organizations. If it happens great; if not, I'll figure out a way to do as much as I can, perhaps on a day when the tour is going to a lot of places I visited last year. If not, I'll manage. In Khmer, you say, "At uey tey," which means
"It doesn't matter, don't worry about it."
It was an enjoyable day, but I'm wiped out!
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