Tuesday 4 Dec 5:20 pm Singapore time
Now sitting in the lounge of Terminal 3, Changi Airport with 8 hrs to while away. Although a very calm, beautiful and comfortable place there is very little to do. I had forgotten there were so few shops, and the ones there are, are not for me and my wallet! However, the Christmas decorations are very tasteful and carols are playing discretely in the background. The flight from Siem Reap came via Phnom Penh, rather than Da Nang as stated on my ticket, but we had to get off the plane for 40 mins and go through airport security again, It was a full flight with many Canadian, NZ and Australians plus some who had been over to SR for the cycle and marathons at the weekend. It was great talking to those with common experiences!
I have not suffered from stiffness or aches and pains since the long ride, and ventured out again on my town bike on Sunday, but I certainly missed the gears. I did relax by the side of and in the Somerdevi Hotel pool on Sun, mixing sleeping with reading and swimming, so needed. Sunday evening was spent with Bridget, Alan, Elaine and the GH staff for dinner at Angkor Famous. Most of us had participated in the ride, but only Elaine and I the 100km, so it was good to hear everyone's stories. However, the Khmer staff find it so hard to believe that someone of my age can actually do something like that, and keep saying, "You're so strong, strong lady." An enjoyable evening, but the worst food I've ever eaten there, they were so busy with the people who had come for the weekend, and that night it was mainly the marathon runners, comparing times etc. After that I went with Bridget and Alan to Miss Wongs, as they had been invited to Sasha Constable's birthday
party. She is the g g granddaughter of the artist, John Constable and is an artist also, based near Bantrey Srei. It was the first time I'd met her. Very pleasant in there, but mixing with people I wouldn't normally.
My last ride out to GH was very sad, but I cycled along drinking in all the sights, and unfortunately, the horrible dust too. As it hasn't rained for quite a while the dust and very fine sand is deep. Frightening to cycle through! My leaving circles were very emotional, but so good to see so many happy and confident children/students who have developed so much since my first visit. All the 30km participants had demanded that they stayed at Angkor until they had seen me cycle past and really cheered me on. From them there were many hugs and thanks for the practice bike rides I'd been on with them, and wanting me to ride with them again next year.
Before my second leaving circle I went out with Dani to Savouen's home to photograph the family and to check where the toilet needed installing, and that brought it all home to me as to why I want to there and volunteer. The home was just a tin shack, although not a bad size with nothing inside other than three wooden platforms on which innumerable of them slept. No bedding or mattresses, no chairs, clothes or anything else to make life just a bit comfortable. Her Dad has had a stroke and just sits on a hard wooden surface all day, unable to move, going to the loo underneath himself if no one there to help him. GH is going to put a loo in and Sue Everett, from Melbourne, who I am friendly with is going to pay for all the rails etc that may enable him to move a little, and be a bit more independent. I hope it is not too late to help or motivate him. Savouen is a lovely girl, very poor educationally, but is gaining in confidence and trying hard. She told me with Phearom's help that e every time she reads a Khmer word wrong her states school teacher hits her. She is 14 yrs old and a few weeks ago Dani gave her some new tops and she was so proud to wear them. Her smile is fantastic, but I suspect she has a life of poverty in front of her. Also two visitors came from Bill Clinton's Foundaton Charity wanting to see if GH was Interested in working with them on helping locals in the area acquire and maintain earring aids. The suggestion was that a repair man be trained and based at GH, time will tell at what becomes of it. The ride home must have been specially for me, I had to stop twice, firstly for a large herd of water buffalo and then about 20 cows. So many sights to miss.
My last meal was with Alan and Alison and then it was home to pack! Many clothes have had to be thrown due to the orange ness of them, and I don't think any amount of washing and biological powder will remove it. Plus I needed room for the Christmas presents I am bringing over to post for others. The final pack was done this morning, and no probs with the 21.9kg weight at the airport. My cafetierre and coffee were left for Flo, who requested it many weeks ago, unfortunately, I didn't see him this morning to give it to him personally. Sherry got the pot and remaining muesli.
Last week SR had a famous visitor, Angelina Jolie and some of her children, apparently they walked and tucked around going to ordinary places, but I don't even know what she looks like, so can't say whether I saw her or not. Apparently, she has a house in Battembang, but stays at the Amarsana when it SR. The hotel does not advertise or have its name displayed, from outside you cannot even see the buildings for trees and a loo wish wall. The hotel does support NGOs.
Very sad leaving Globalteer House this morning, as they may move from there in March and all the Khmer staff have been given redundancy notices. Fortunately, they all look upon it as a chance to change what they are doing. Globalteer has supported them well, paid for English lessons, paid them a fair wage, and they've had the experience of talking to and spending time with people from so many different countries. SR is so small that one cannot help but bump into people yup know regularly.
Singapore is 1 hr ahead of Cambodia, so it just getting dark at 6:50, would have got dark an hour ago in C.
Angela had surgery yesterday, Monday, so is hoping to be home sometime on Tuesday, when I rang Dad he was waiting for her to call and let him know what was happening.
Time to go and buy a drink and possibly something to eat. Hope to see you all soon.
Take care, love to all, J x