Hi, hope you are all well and everything ok. I cannot believe how fast the weeks are whizzing past, but I'm enjoying every second. Today has been in the high 30's, not a cloud in the brilliant, blue sky, so very hot for the long, weekly, cycle ride. Today's has been through stunning villages and scenery, kids everywhere swimming, fishing or playing and shouting to us. Water buffaloes bathing and lying in any water they can find, cows chewing the grass on the track sides and folk using their ox carts to get about. The lotus flowers were in full bloom alongside the water hyacinths and water lilies all set off against the vibrant green of the rice, coconut and mango trees and orange of the earth. A mixture of palm leaf and wooden stilted homes with busy/lazy people under them cooking, repairing fishing nets and lazing in hammocks, interspersed with stalls selling fresh veg which did look wonderful. Sounds idyllic, looked idyllic until I really thought about living in those conditions and I'm afraid the answer is no.
A lazy afternoon fighting off sellers and tuk drivers in town was followed by an evening visit for something to eat and to watch the annual Halloween Parade, I'm too miserable to participate and lack all ideas and enthusiasm when it comes to making a costume. Also the party is too loud for me, so a quick look and chat with the people I manage to recognise is sufficient. However, I admire people's I ingenuity and use of scrap materials to make brilliant outfits.
A beautiful morning of 30 degrees, I'm sitting outside, writing this and watching a very dusty world go past. Students on their way to private English classes, families on their moto, handcarts being pulled, bikes being ridden and an array being carried on them. Dogs are barking, c*** crowing, birds whistling, people chattering, the squeaking horns of people looking for anything they can recycle which may make them a few cents to live on, and engines roaring, a cacophony of sound for early on a Sun morning. The down side is the fine, dust that now thickly covers everywhere and makes breathing difficult after anything has travelled over it. My hair is permanently thick with dust and grit, and when I touch it feels as though it is covered with glue, washing it doesn't help!
All week it has been extremely hot, mid to late 30's with little difference between day and night temps, but we have had two heavy and prolonged storms which have laid the dust for a short time. Unfortunately, I was caught in one coming home from school on Mon pm and was absolutely drenched, can't complain as it was the first time I've been caught this year. I've also been able to cycle to school everyday, something I love, many things to see and hear, people who want to ride alongside you and talk to you and things being transported in ways we could never imagine in the UK - hence the photo of the pigs. As I was photographing them they were snorting at me from their drugged state.
Sadly, my cycling friend, Meychyi from Malaysia leaves tomorrow, she lives in Kuala Lumpar, but has just finished an economics degree at Manchester Uni. She has been at Grace House too and joined me on the other rides too. Matheus, Brazilian medical student has just arrived and is keen to join me, but on his first ride to school fell off his bike and has made a horrible mess of his knee. Tonight he has had to go and see a Drvas it would not stop bleeding, and in this humidity was very worried about infection.
Sue, from Melbourne has also left tonight, hopefully I will see her again next year, as she is going to rent an apartment in Berlin for 3 months, where her youngest daughter lives and works for an NGO called Transparency International. She has invited me to go and stay with her and It will be great to go back there, as I haven't been since I was there for the coming down of 'the wall'
On Sat, the group I cycle with went a most beautiful way to the Roulous group of temples, I had been a few weeks ago along Route 6 and it had been hell, so it was very exciting to find a new way. On Sun Mey and I decided to go again, but didn't leave until 10:45, so it was a case of mad dogs and Englishmen out in the midday sun. It was so hot, that after about 20km we turned round and came back. I thought I might have sun stroke, but luckily have been ok. Some days I think I can achieve the 100km, others I'm not sure, but I'm going to look for sponsors to raise money for Grace House.
Today we had a couple of hrs of torrential rain, we were in the coffee place watching the world go by and looking with interest as to how they were coping with such a deluge. On one moto were three adults, all wearing a cooking pot on their head, others were completely hidden under plastic, drivers too, and the latest craze seems to be put a plastic bag on a child's head to keep them dry! Health and safety, and any awareness of it does not exist in this country. Watching the guys weld together the panels of the new classroom was a prime example - bare feet, shorts, no goggles, immediately next to a classroom and a guy spraying metal.
The Social work house and new classroom are complete and just need the electrical team and the apprentices to wire them up. I hope I will be here when they have the monks in to bless them before they are used properly.
Again, I have forgotten all the interesting snippets Inthought I would remember to tell you, but here are a couple: no one in the world is adept at texting, dialing a mobile phone number, or talking on one as a Cambodian moto or 4x4 driver. Unfortunately, whilst texting etc they completely forget to use their wing mirrors and pull out in front of you, as of it is their entitlement. Unfortunately, concrete is beginning to be used so much, a new material for them and it is being used with gay abandon. In Battambang all the roadside seats are made from it. Why not use their natural resources?
Tomorrow is the birthday of the recently deceased king father's birthday, a public holiday for some, but not us. The week of mourning is now over, the shrines have disappeared, but his photograph remains everywhere, edged with black. The ladies in their pristine, white shirts have gone back to their normal dress, music is playing again and Siem Reap can have its Water Festival, however, we don't know what will happen. Things in Phnom Penh are different as the king's late father is lying in state there for 100 days, so everything has to be serious and respectful. At the moment only VIP's can view him and his golden box, but I think the ordinary folks will be allowed later. In Jan there is going to be a full scale Buddhist funeral, and representatives from the world will be invited. If only the folk of this country were considered to be important there may be an I prove meant in their lives. Many are worried about what will happen as they have a 'General Election' next year and a despotic leader who will get rid of anyone in his way. Some Khmers I know are worried that therebcould be a Vietnamese or Chinese take over sometime in the future. All the people want is a fair chance of education, employment and enough money to feed and look after their family.
Bedtime, have a good end of week, take care and enjoy, love to all, J