Friday, August 12, 2011

Home stays and boat rides

After a chilling morning touring the killing fields the group set out for a home stay in the rural Cambodian hills. We stayed in a great village that has several thousand people living there and are predominately farmers and tour guides. The group got 2 rooms, no running water, and limited electricity for a night of rural living. It was fabulous! Everyone was insanely friendly, especially the kids, all running over to say helllo or smile and wave from the road. When we got there we said that we should have brought toys or something for the kids and our tour guide actually said no. He prefers for people not to bring things for the villagers, that way our interactions with them remain authentic and they don't grow to expect stuff from us. Which I found very interesting and kind of refreshing. After several days in the cities with people continually begging and selling things it is nice to get a break from that and have people want to just talk to you for being you.
During dinner a couple of us got to talking to one of the local rice farmers. During the conversation we asked him where he learned English and about his education growing up. He replied that he got no formal education because schools were abolished during the Khmer rouge years and he is unable to read or write, he learned English from the tourists. It was interesting to have him almost casually mention in conversation the Khmer rogue years, particularly after spending the morning learning about the devastation. In a way, it brought the topic to down to earth, more understandable, if that makes any sense. To talk to someone who lived throughout it, to see how an individual was directly affected by it; a mere generation ago. It reminds you that it wasn't that long ago and howmthe country is still dealing from the affects of the Khmers.
Anyways, it was an enjoyable evening and we went to sleep to the crickets. Only later to be awoken to the roosters crowing at the bright hour of 3am! Hey buddy, it's not even dawn yet, learn how to tell time dude! We sadly said good bye to many smiling faces and headed to the beach.
We went to Sihanoukville for a little sand and surf and R and R. It was an ok experience. I say ok because I've been to nicer beaches in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and dealt with a lot less hassling. Still, it was a nice couple of days and everyone got some much needed rest. Our only activity was a boat trip to some of the islands right on the coast. I was a little unsure how the day would go because it was raining and most people were fairly hungover from the night before. The day turned out quite nice. It wasn't overly hot and we spent our time snorkeling and swimming around. I think I have officially decided that I don't care for snorkeling or scuba diving, just not for me, but I had a great time splashing around in the water. I also jumped from the top of the 3 story boat! Got a nice bruise right on my upper right side where I hit the water hard (it's right where my underwire sits and is actually quite uncomfortable). Oh well...that's what I get I guess! They had great music playing, gave out free shots in the afternoon, and I drank my face off for a grand total of $8. I love Cambodia!
Yesterday a group of us went to the Starfish Organization for an amazing lunch, shopping, and massages. I got a back and neck massage from a blind woman. One thing I really like about this group is that we all really make an effort to eat, shop, and play for a good cause. It makes for a nice balance.
The last 2 weeks have flown by and it's almost time to leave Cambodia! I'm sad to leave this country. I've had a really great time here and am certainty walking away even more appreciative of what I have and would love to do some volunteering here later on. 

1 comment:

  1. I love that you guys are eating, shopping, etc at places that give back! Way to go lovely!