Hi All, I hope you have had a good week and that the weather has been kind to you all. Here it has been a very interesting and busy week, which began wet and then became very hot and dry. Hence, I have found it very difficult to sleep and the days have been tiring with me dripping in sweat most of the time. Sometimes I cannot see as it gets into my eyes, makes them sting and then my eyes water and I cannot see. Oh joy, but I do survive.
Last Sunday I borrowed a bike from with the intention of trying to cycle out to GH, but floods in all directions soon put a stop to that, it may have been as well because the bike was not road worthy and I didn't feel that safe. However, it was iniatiating me back into the mad roads here and the new ways of riding that I'd have to adapt if I wanted to get anywhere. Shopping was done - coffee pot, mug, plate, knife, spoon and a variety of basic food stuffs to last me a week. I don't need too much as I have breakfast here and a on school days a lunch at GH. Late afternoon the heavens opened and we had torrential rain for many hours, adding to the misery of so many people. Luckily after a phone call to Meas he was able to collect me in his tuk tuk to take me to meet Bridget and Alan for dinner in town. Alan kindly brought me home afterwards in his land rover through water and the pot holes which seem to appear in front of your eyes. Also they told that GH would be closed until Wed in the hope the water would be going down by then., but on Tues I was going to meet with some Rith, Loung, Bridget and Hayley who is an American girl working as Volunteer co-ord at GH and teaching the oldest students English to update the older children's curriculum.
Monday began as wet and grey, but quickly cleared to a blue sky and sun, so after a while chatting to fellow guests in the breakfast room I decided to try a different bike and ride round again. The one I was given was as bad as the previous day's one and again I didn't feel particularly safe on it! After trying two ways to GH unsucessfully I tried another and was able to get further without going through floods, but one road I enjoyed cycling along last year was in a dreadful state, as part of the flood defence work they were in the throes of building a canal along side it to carry excess water away from the town. The vehicles used had created deep ruts everywhere, and so riding along it trying to avoid them was very dangerous, so I knew I didn't want to use it every day. Nearly in Kor Krank there was water was over the road and it was in a bad state. but because I was so close I foolishly walked through it. I thought it was worth it as I saw more people and children I knew and I also wanted my first iced coffee at a roadside stall - one the GH staff use every day, it was wonderful! I managed to get back ok. Arriving here were three new Globalteer volunteers, two young Aussies and a guy from Worcester, who has just finished a law degree at Oxford. All young, but great to talk to and spend some time with and introduce them to here from my and past volunteer experiences.
Tuesday was another wet and grey morning, but luckily for me the rain lessened before I needed to leave for the meeting. Yet again a different bike was requested, but that one was the worst of the lot of them, and later that day I noticed the tyres were cracked and torn and could have gone flat on me at any time. I left here to negotiate the traffic, the earliest I had been out since my arrival, but still not as early as a school day. I had to cross Route 6, the only Phnom Penh to SR road at a set of traffic lights, but the problem here is that very few take notice of them and certainly motos, bikes and tuks cut across pavements to avoid them! So with fear and trepidation I stood and waited my turn, but I waited and waited until I decided I had to go with the flow like everyone else, and hope that coaches, lorries etc could stop if and when necessary. I managed successfully and enjoyed my ride out to Bridget's where I met up with the others for the first time this year. It was great to see them and they were very pleased to see me too. We had a good morning sorting the curriculum out followed by a very nice Khymer chicken curry made by Bridget. We also decided to open the school the following day, but knew that the children, particularly the younger ones from two of the villages wouldn't be able to attend bcause of thedeep water surrounding their homes. I then cycled out to GH to hope that Alan could find me a decent bike that I could use for the rest of my stay. We looked through his stock, not encouraging, but there was one which looked ikely if one of his handy men worked on it the next day. So we agreed I'd take a tuk the next morning and have a bike to go home on. Later that evening I went out with the young ones for something to eat and a drink, an interesting time listening to their stories and initial impressions of town and their project. Unfortunately, many of the projects are still closed because this year the flooding has moved areas due to their saving the town for tourists, but in doing so they have created severe flooding around the airport road and the temples. Apparently, excess water is usually released from the West Baray ( a 9/10th century reservoir which was built to serve Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat, the most heavily populated part of the Angkor Empire where the rulers and academics lived, but is now used by Khymers for leisure time, so areas are set up with hammocks etc and food stalls and are very busy at weekends and holidays. I used to cycle there some Sundays as part of the cycle training I did with the older chidren last year for the bike ride. They thought the swimming was wonderful.), but this time they haven't done so causing one of the dams to collapse and release a large volume of water. Later that night I was in bed when a tremendous storm started and had to quickly get out of bed and shut the window as I was getting very wet! I had also arranged to go out with Hugh as far as Trailblazers, his project where they make water filters and then walk to GH from there, another 5/6km, so I could get my new bike home.
Wednesday was a beautiful morning, a good day to start work and have an earlyish walk, we left at 7:45 amid SR's morning madness and all seemed well. I began my walk looking at everything going on, the banana ladies making fritters, crisps etc by the roadside, selling many for breakfasts, kids fishing, tourist buses on their way to the lake, kids riding 2/3/4 on a bike to school etc etc. Then to my dismay I could see an ocean in front of me, the river had flooded for about 100m, I knew from past experience that it would be deep and hiding enormous potholes waiting to fell the unsuspecting. I wasn't sure what to do as I hadn't got my phone organised, but decided to be brave and wade my way through. After rolling my trouser legs up as high as I could I kept to the middle there are usually less potholes there and waded very slowly forward trying to keep vehicles behind me, but in their impatience they went round me, drenching me and creating a bow wave I struggled to remain upright in. Very wet but I had made my way successfully through it. The rest of the way was interesting but uneventful, but I didn't arrive at GH the tidy, respectable person i hoped to be. However, that didn't matter, I was very warmly welcomed back, the kids were thrilled to see and beamed when they heard me calling them by name. One teacher cried when I used her name, she couldn't believe that anyone would remember her! Phearom and I very quickly got back to our old working relationship and didn't seem as though i'd been away for 10 months. There are some really lovely vols there, a Danish couple - her an architect, him a social worker, acouple of Dutch girls, one a physio and the other helping them to market the weaving ladies products, and Lou another Australian about my age who is good fun, but perhaps rather loud for me. She also hs been to GH many times, but leaves soon as her son's wife is about to have their first baby. My cycle home on my 'new' bike was much better and gave me greater confidence, but I could go a different way home and avoid flood water. The school lunch was as good as last year, and the iced coffee afterwards a good boost for the afternoon. After a lazy afternoon I went into town to meet Lou for dinner and a walk around the new Night Market. I think I'm over them as nothing changes and the sellers harass you so much it becomes an unpleasant experience. Perhaps next week I'll feel differently about them! Today has been a lazy one mixed with a 2 hr cycle ride to just look and experience the outskirts of town and the villages around, I thoroughly enjoyed it, went to have a mooch around town, saw Hugh went to have a 50cent Angkor draft beer with him, did my weekly bit of shopping and now am writing this. We had a tremendous rain and electric storm, but the electricity has stayed on, and it feels a bit fresher, but my temp says it feel like 32 now and its 8pm. I still need to plan my work, but it is not too onerous, as we have Tues off - it is one yr since the king died and is to remember him. I don't know what to expect, but think I will cycle out to visit some temples. Apparently, certain provinces of Cambodia have been hit very badly by the floods, and many thousands of hectares of rice have been lost, and so far there have been 100 deaths. A typhoon is expected to hit Vietnam on Tuesday and we receive the aftermath of that later in the week, so fingers crossed that it diminishes in power as it reaches land. I'm spent now and must do a bit of work. Have a good week everyone, take care,love to all, J x