Just seen an amazing statistic on the World News, yesterday in China, a public holiday, on one of its roads out of Beijing were 83 million cars, as you can imagine they were not always moving.
Also yesterday 3 people were killed and two seriously injured by a landmine exploding as their truck went over it, the second fatality in three weeks. Both happened on farming land and the recent wet weather had made them vulnerable. This country is still heavily mined and out of tourist areas there is always a risk.
Pchumn Ben, the Buddhist Festival for their Ancestors,miso we are on a week's holiday, a much needed one has the last 6 weeks of teaching have been enjoyable but tiring. Working in this heat is hard work. Last weekend I had the cold which I recovered from quickly, but now have a nasty chest cough.
One morning last week on the way to school I was overtaken by a moto with a man and woman and sitting squirming between them was a full grown Alsatian dog. They stopped, she took it for a few steps along the roadside and then their journey continued.
I am still amazed at how many people around recognise me, on Sat evening a few of us went to look around the NEW Art Market, surprisingly it sell exactly the same as the Old Market and the Night Market, so now even more competition! However, one man came up to me very excited, "Madame, you an old friend, it's good to see you again. You can have a treatment for twice as long and 20% off," so I must go and hold him to it. The first time Inwas here he was in the night market and we had quite a few foot massages from his girls. Later, the same evening we were walking past another place and I saw Donna, an Australian, whose project I visited two years ago and have'nt seen since. Hopefully I will manage to visit her for a weekend soon and see the amazing progress she has made in Soksan village, about 100 miles away from here. Just need to pluck up the courage to take a bus ride there. However, she now has her own house so will not need to stay in a room in Konpong Thom, which was not good last time.
Completed another long bike ride on Sat am, the first part was thought the deep mud and flood water, but the rest fair going. The distance I found quite easy, despite the intense heat, so the 100km does seem a possibility. A couple of Australian expats are going to start some extra cycle rides for practice so I will join them. Luckily, we were back about an hour before we had the heaviest rain that that I have seen here this time, it lasted for about 3 hrs and so there was flash flooding everywhere, most of the water has now gone.
Sat afternoon, Sue and her visiting daughter (Australians) were invited to visit Loung's home to see his wife and meet their new son, Bunchai. Imwas nervous as I had no idea what to expect, the etiquette of it etc. we duly arrived through deep flood water, in out tuk tuk at a small tin house on stilts, with two noisy dogs barking outside it. After wading through deep mud and water we were met by him and escorted up the steep steps to go in. It was tiny, very uneven wood floor, with spaces between the planks and things piled everywhere, as they had very little furniture or other belongings. The baby was lying on the floor with his wife lying beside him trying to stop him crying. Three plastic chairs were found for us to sit on, luckilyntheybhad one fan which did cool things down a bit. Kimsouen's mother has come to stay with them for a while to help out, there was one hard wooden bed for her, no mattress and behind a wood divider was a minute area for their bed. No privacy, no comfort, no water, no kitchen, and in many places the tin was holey. How on earth they manage to sleep during the heavy overnight rain rain we have had, and of course the metal makes the place so hot. The baby was lovely, he slept in my arms for about an hour. No nappy, only a piece of scrap A4 paper under him. Unfortunately, he cries all night, so is being a difficult baby for them. Will use their picture at the beginning of my next blog. We were made very welcome, given a plate of pineapple to share and Kim was very interested in babies of the western world. There is no way she could ever comprehend our lives, or ways of doing things. Her Englishnis quite good and she works as a physiotherapist helper, I think, or she may be Cambodian trained officially.
Yesterday we visited Bantrey Chmar, an outlying group of temples on the Thai border, not the ones that the two countries are always fighting over! The journey took 3 and a half hrs, mainly over unmade roads, that had been badly damaged by rain. However, it was interesting as much of the area is still being cleared of landmines and we saw much evidence of that. There were very few villages along the way as much fighting took place in that area. The road journey wasn't too bad as it was a holiday, so most travellers were in their best clothes, ladies in white tops off to visit the pagoda to take food for the monks and to visit their families. However, on the way back we came across an awful accident in whichnInsuspect people had been killed. One vehicle was a very smart 4 wheel drive Lexus, and probably overtaking and either hit something or lost control. Our driver appeared to drive slower after that. Life was very poor en route, but there are usually a few huts grouped together with a market and stalls selling bits and pieces. We saw many people bathing, washing hair, their clothes etc in the water and at one point it was hilarious - people washing themselves, further up people doing the clothes washing, then a man washing cows, further along motos and then mechanical cows all being spruced up. It is understandable as the orange dust and mud sticks to everything and is very difficult to get rid of. My clothes are beginning to look worse for wear now, as I cannot wash out the orange, and the dust and sweat that impregnates everything.
It is now 7:30 am and many trailers have past loaded with families on their way to the pagoda, the tops look so white, why do I struggle to keep mine clean looking? Tomorrow, some of us are joining the Khmer staff here to celebrate Pchumn Ben. It starts at 7 am when we meet to prepare the vegetables and cook the food, some will be to take for the monks and the rest we will have a celebration meal after we have been to the pagoda. We will walk to Wat Bo pagoda with them and share their rituals before walking back to feast. I joined them 2 yrs ago and we had a great time, last year due to the flooding nothing happened here.
On Thursday I'm off to Battambang again for a couple of nights with two vols, the programme will be the same, but I enjoy it each time, there on the bus and back by boat along the river and across Tonle Sap. Today, I am taking Sue and her photographer daughter a ride through some of the villages here, so that she can take pics of local life and people - she is only visiting for 5 days. Hopefully, the cough will not get any worse and stop me!
As usual I have forgotten the interesting bits!
Take care everybody and enjoy, Jenny x