Hi everyone, hope that you are all well and coping with the October weather. I spent some time having a very disjointed chat on Face Time with Meryl yesterday telling her dry it was here and that we hadn't had any rain for 12 days. As soon as our conversation ended the heavens opened and we had a torrential storm followed by two more during the evening and heavy rain for most of the night. This is beautifully sunny, feeling a little fresher, but clouds which could soon become rainbearing ones are hanging around. I think that I may have rather a wet ride with the Grace House students this afternoon. They want me to take them to Phnom Krom, but I think we will go through the countryside first to make it more interesting - for me I suspect. Had a great ride yesterday through the forest of Angkor Park, we have to keep away from the roads and main tourist parts as we do not pay the entrance fee of 20$. I cannot believe the terrain that we cycle over - very narrow tracks either deep sand or muddy furrows, tree roots and stones, and then we had to climb and descend on treacherous tracks to ride on the walls of Angkot Thom. Unfortunately, I made myself walk down from it. At one point we had to climb up and down steep steps and cross a river by bamboo bridge, but luckily one of the guys carried my bike for me - a privilege of old age! However, it is great seeing so many ruins and sites which no one else manages to visit. At one point we were breaking enormous spiders' webs with our faces and bodies. I've been invited to join the regular riders on a long ride to Beng Melea later this month, I readily accepted as I have done that 75 km ride before, but my heart sank when I realised it involved doing it both ways, unless I organise a tuk to bring me and my bike back. Food for thought, and I must find out how much that will cost me.
As I sit eating my breakfast and writing this there is load chanting and in the regular beat of a drum coming from somewhere very close. t started yesterday and I suspect it is because someone rich has died. For a poor person it would be loud wailing piped music.
On Thursday six female students from G H were taken to a workshop run by two American women to introduce them to engineering. They had to work in groups with girls from other NGO's to solve the problems set using the equipment provided. Apparerntly, it took them a while to get used to working with girls that they didn't know, but once that hurdle was cleared they worked enthusiasticaly. If it wasn't for such ventures these children wouldn't experience or know anything. On Friday GH was visited by 'Clowns Without Borders' apparently quite a few countries participate in this and the clowns tour impoverished countries and then find recommended projects to visit. Although our two Australians were dressed as clowns, she was really a hoola hooping contortionist and he was a juggler. It was fantastic watching the students faces, even the 20 yyear olds, all were mesmerised and entranced by all they were seeing. Some of the afternoon students were able to attend workshops that they ran after their performance, and all were surprised at how difficult it was to stand on your hands and hoops twirling in so many places, at different speeds.
Last Wednesday everyone worked hard and much was achieved in the cleaning and clearance, so next Thursday, which is also a public holiday, we can have a day off. It is to remember the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement: In a significant reversal for the ruling CPP government, the Council of Ministers announced yesterday that October 23, the anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement in 1991, has been reinstated as a national holiday, eight years after it was dropped as a day of celebration.
The decision reverses a 2004 government directive that dropped the date from the official calendar of national holidays in order to promote January 7 as National Liberation Day, which marks the toppling of the Khmer Rouge in 1979 by forces led by senior leaders of the CPP and backed by the Vietnamese army. Cambodia, one of the poorest countries in the world has the most public holidays! G H didn't used to take them all, but now that they are affililiated to the Ministry of Education they are supposed to take them all. What a waste of time is my opinion!
Last night was the "Made in Cambodia Market" so I went along early to help Sonny put into practise what we have been learning in our 1 - 1 sessions. Before the heavy rain started, with my help, she tried speaking to a few visitors and managed well, but I suspect on her own she will just revert into her shell and refrain from trying. After that Jill, another volunteer and I went try out a new rstaurant I had discovered the other day. I happened to walk past it on Thursday evening, looked at the menu and was accosted by an employee who promised me 30% if I tried it. So back we went, were treated royally, and seated in front of sparkling glasses and decent cutlery, a very pleasant setting. I had two glasses of a decent red wine, sea bass with rice and three sauces: tamarind, sour mango salad, and a hot tomato chilli one and a delicious plate of fresh fruit - mango, dragon fruit, langons, pawpaw and pineapple for under £5. The service was excellent and although the food wasn't plentiful it was cooked well and presented nicely, so I will return.
Meas, te tuk driver I know has invited me to his son's 2nd birthday party next Wed, I will go, but expect that I will end up paying for it! Apparently, he has invited some Australians too.
I live about 100m down a sandy lane, when dry it is very dusty and when wet very muddy. It is very dark at night, but as long as I walk quickly down it I feel safe. At the top of it are the local food sellers and their stalls: a guy cooking and selling noodles, greens and eggs - I do feel as though i could eat his fare, another lady selling sweet potatoes, seetcorn and boiled monkey nuts and the lady on the picture who sells cooked snakes, cockroaches, grasshoppers and another insect that I cannot identify. I really should ty the guy one night as it would be a very cheap meal and freshly cooked - in front of my eyes, so should be safe.
I need to go and prepare myself for the ride - the clouds are gathering ominously, bit I've promised so will go.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, take care and love to all, J x