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Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap January 19th 2019

Bike rentals and a map and off we go to explore the temples of Angkor. The goals today were to buy our passes, make it to Ta Prohm, Bayon and Angkor Wat, and back to Siem Reap before nightfall. Today, I am happy to say that we asked for directions at all the right times, trusted people instead of what the internet told us, and had some shear good luck: we did all things without getting lost. We even got to add in Srah Srang water reserve, Chrung Palace, and the Elephant Terrace. Cambodia receives 90% of its rainfall in 6 months of the year. This made agriculture during the dry months nearly impossible. What made the Angkor region successful was its ability to master the water. They built huge reservoirs (like 7 kilometers by 4 ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap January 18th 2019

The war museum occupies a large area encircled by a fence giving it the feel of an isolated time. A guide is provided and all experienced some portion of the Cambodian civil war, Khmer Rouge, or the takeover of Cambodia by the Vietnam forces. The museum contains tanks, landmines, guns, and helicoptors as well as a written presentation the 30 year time period (1960 to 1991). Our guide was a child soldier during the Khmer Rouge period and fought against the Vietnam invasion. He recently had been written about in a book and been given the name the cat becabuse of the number of times he evaded death. As a young child, he left home one morning to run an errand, upon his return he found his entire family had been killed by the Khmer Rouge. ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap January 17th 2019

Delivery days include loading up 7 bags of washed sand, 1 bag of washed gravel, 1 bag of washed pebbles into the truck, and 7 filters in to the back of a truck. All are heavy enough to require a team lift so my muy, pii, bey (1, 2, 3) in Khmer is now very proficient. We then fight over who gets to sit in the back and bet on if we are stopping for bagged ice coffee. Heng is always the driver. His control of a manual is INSANE. He drives through and 90 degree backs into things I don't even think a motorcycle should fit through let alone a large truck. Today's delivery was to a new village. This one seemed to be more "wealthy" than the previous two delivery days. I have not ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap January 16th 2019

Another delivery day. It amazes me how during the week, I thought we had done a good job filling up the holding containers with clean sand, pebbles and gravel only to have them emptied between us and the drill team. It was a comparable feeling to how I feel about laundry, dishes and showering...they always need to be done again even immediately after you finished them. The deliveries themselves were pretty straight forward, I did get a promotion to being allowed to help lower the filters out of the truck. As Shelby's dad would say..."we're so fit!" I also came more prepared with a neck gator to pull up over my face while we are in the truck to block out the passing car fumes and the dust from the dirt roads. The highlight of today ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap January 15th 2019

So Shelby and I decided despite the fact that eating out can be fairly cheap here and the street food is delicious, we needed a different option. We committed to the creation of a hotel home and have hung up art work and decorated our room. This week the newest addition to this home is a rice cooker! So far our rice cooker creations have been: Rice and pineapple beef Rice and chicken with steamed veggies Yellow chicken curry BBQ pork steak with veggies and rice FUNFETTI cake (x2 because the first cake we brought to work for Den was given away to a family during deliveries so a second was needed) The woman at the small corner store who does our laundry was so funny when we came in to buy coconut milk for the ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North January 14th 2019

Starting week two at Trailblazers Foundation. Here are some cool things about this foundation: They are one of the few NGOs invited to a government meeting each year to determine who will be responsible for helping meet the request needs of each village in the country. Individuals sit in the room and each village lists of requests are put on the wall and each group signs up to fulfill these needs. The organization was started by two Americans, but now is run by 12 Khmer natives. The founders and board are in charge of raising funds while the 12 employees are in charge of being the boots on the ground. Trailblazers builds and installs water filters, digs wells (most are 25 to 40 meters deep), funds the construction of school (including toilets, classrooms, fences), and developing ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap January 13th 2019

Instead of making an investment in a gym membership here, we decided to try a yoga and pool pass at one of the local resorts. This is a jump into new waters for me as I have never committed to workout dominated by yoga. At the Angkor Museum, I got a quick lesson in the Hindu gods: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Many of the temples in the area are dedicated to Shiva the god of destruction. They explained Shiva also helps in creation and reaching enlightenment because he liberates things/thoughts/people by breaking bonds and connections which can lead to new things forming. If the mind gets stuck in one place, it can never grow into something new or bigger. If the cells never died, we'd never grow larger. The human challenge is to learn how to ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap January 12th 2019

This week I had the privilege of seeing the Phare show. They call it a circus (which I could not attend due to animal love and standards), but what it is is the most incredible acrobatically, musically entertaining displays EVER! The show they did was called Same Same But Differentwhich "explores the different habits and ways of living between Cambodians and foreign visitors." I laughed so hard and had my jaw drop at the strength, athleticism and poise of these individuals. This company is actually pretty amazing outside of their stunts and music compositions. They tell Cambodian stories and all artists (musicians, circus artists, and dancers) all graduated from Phare Ponleu Selpak which is an NGO school and professional arts training center located in Cambodia. The school was founded in 1994 by nine Cambodian men returning ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap January 11th 2019

Tonight one of the local cafes did a showing of the documentary of Don't Think I've Forgotten. I knew nothing about Cambodia prior to arriving. In fact, the volunteer coordinators got a good chuckle from Shelby and I recounting how 1 week before wanting to start we contacted them to set it up. Typically, they set things up 6 - 10 weeks in advance for people. They asked if we wanted to do anything besides the temples. We asked "What temples?" and their jaw dropped..."You really don't know ANYTHING and really fly by the seat of your pants!!!" So seeing this movie was a must because how can I remember something I don't know. The highlight of the cafe was two full walls of book exchange potential. The documentary was a flashback to high school American ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap January 10th 2019

The best analogy I have is Siem Reap is like Disneyland. Millions flock into Disneyland every year and leave California without seeing much beyond their hotel, the streets to the park and Disneyland. If they said, "I know California because I went to Disneyland," I would laugh. Siem Reap is a tourist bubble within Cambodia. Every year about 2 million people visit Siem Reap because it is the closest city to Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is the world's largest religious monument and since it was built over 800 years ago, it is kind of a big deal. The large flux of people, has resulted in the creation of hundreds of resorts, hotels and guesthouses which are largely owned by foreign investors. There is also not a lot to do in the surrounding area outside of the ... read more




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