Monday, August 23, 2010

Koh Samet

So I rolled into Bangkok on Thursday night. I felt like I transported back to the States minus the white people. Bangkok is so much more developed and modern then Phnom Penh, they even have express ways. In Cambodia we drove from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh on a two lane road which was gravel half the time, and that is one of the major "highways" of the country. We met up with Ack's cousin named Tony and his girlfriend Gin. It has been fun going around with them because they take me to all the non tourist spots so I get to experience a more "real" Bangkok. I miss Cambodia a lot though, I miss being able to communicate with people. We left for Koh Samet on Saturday morning. I am one of probably 4 white people on the island and get stared at a lot. However, I did run into some Cambodian natives and was able to speak Khmer with them which was a blast. Today this lady was giving me a massage and she said she was from the Lao/ Cambodian border. Another guy we met the day before came and sat with us as well. My friend Ack was speaking Thai to them, I was speaking Khmer and English with the lady and the lady and the guy were speaking Lao to each other. We pretty much had a 30 minute convo going on in four different languages, it was pretty awesome. We also randomly ran into some friends we made in Siem Reap here in Koh Samet (white people!) I am not trying to be racist when I speak of white people, there is seriously hardly any white people ever since I got into Thailand. I miss being able to understand conversations between people rather then it all sounding like gibberish. The weather on the island has been okay but I do not expect to come home with a tan=(. The first day was cloudy, the second sunny and today it started raining around 3:30pm. We are leaving tomorrow to go back to Bangkok till Friday. On Friday we are going to Pattaya which is a beach location and the old Capitol of Siam. I leave for home in about a week which is nice. I am starting to get a little homesick, I feel as if I have been in Asia for years rather then months. I am not sure when I will be able to update this blog again because I don;t really have internet access, but I will try my best. XOXO

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Here is a picture of Angkor Wat. I leave for Bangkok tomorrow and hopefully I will have better internet there.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Siem Reap

So my time in Siem Reap went by extremely fast. I felt as if I was there for only one day rather then 4. We arrived Thursday afternoon and went straight to Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is Cambodia's most famous monument and is even on their flag (the only country to have a monument on their flag I believe). Being there was surreal but it was hard to really appreciate the moment with a billion tourists everywhere. Asian people from Korea, China and Japan take these bus tours throughout the country and they just drop them off everywhere. All the Asian tourist insist on carrying around umbrellas to block the sun and wear white make up so their faces are white and the rest of them is brown. After Angkor Wat we went to dinner then to the hotel. Our hotel was interesting, we had beautiful porches off of each room, however lacked a real tub. There was a drain in the floor and a shower head and you kinda just stood there and got the bathroom full of water. I am sure this is popular, but it is the first time I ever saw such a thing. I did not feel very clean. On Friday we set off to this mountain which i cannot spell the name of. There, we saw a river which had carved lingas and yonnis on the river bed. Lingas and yonis represent fertility, by carving them onto the river bed the water would be blessed. After the water was blessed it would go down to the fields and result in fertile and plentiful harvest. After the river we went to the waterfall Lara Croft jumped off in Tomb Raider. It was beautiful. While there were a few other tourist we largely had the place to ourselves. We didn't get to jump off the waterfall but there was a rope to swing off of, which I failed at. On Saturday we went to Angkor Thom temple complex and saw more temples then I can remember. We also went on a elephant ride around the temple, but it was pretty lame. It only went around one temple and we didn't even get to sit on the elephant but a chair thing and it only lasted for like 10 minutes. It was a long and exhausting time spent in Siem Reap. As for the town, it made me miss Phnom Penh a bunch. The whole town was completely geared towards tourism and depended on tourism. This has its good and bad issues but I wont get into that on here. As for now I am back in Phnom Penh with Ack. All of my group mates are gone and we are here until Thursday then off to Bangkok. I will try to get some pictures up. I was able to upload a bunch to facebook the other day so check those out too.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Off to Siem Reap

Sorry for the late post, I havee been pretty busy. I am feeling 101% better, no more fever so that is nice. Today was the last day if my field research. At our temple we recieved a water blessing from our abbot which was a great experience. He tooke a palm leaf and dipped it in water and chanted a special prayer After he dips the palm leaf in the water he kind of shakes it at me. He also blessed me with flowers. We had a celebration dinner tonight with our Khmer translators. It was sad having to say goodbye and not knowing if I would ever see them again. There is a language program in Phnom Penh that takes place in the summer, so maybe I will do that next June. Tomorrow (Thrusday) we leave for Siem Reap where Angkor Wat is. In Siem Reao I will finally be meeting up with my friend Ack. He is the person I am going to Thailand with on August 19th 8 more days! Time is starting to go by really fast and I only have 19 more days to go. I will be sad to say goodbye to my friends I made during the field school. All of them will be gone by August 17th. I will try to post some more once I get in Siem Reap. Hopefully I can upload some pictures there too.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Some pictures/ health update

The first picture was taken on the riverside where we spend most of our evenings. A lot of really good resturantes are located here. The second picture is the kitten I adopeted at my temple sleeping in my lap. aww so cute.

I heard from the doctor and I have a viral infection similar to the flu minus the throwing up part. They still think it may be dangy fever too so I have to go back to the doctor tomorrow (Friday). I am really bummed because that means I missed three days this week. Next week is our last week and we only go Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday we leave for Siem Reap.

Week 2 of Field Work

My second week of working in the villages and temples started on Monday. My day on Monday was pretty laid back. We walked about 1 1/2 kilometers with the monks on an alms round. Walking there took a little under 30 minutes, but it was nice to be able to walk through the rice fields and see more of the countryside. After a long nap at lunch we were able to get two interviews done.

Tuesday did not go as well. There was a ceremony in the morning, so a few of the high ranking temple lay people were there. We thought this would be our chance to get to interview them, but 2 out of 3 said no, and the one who said yes we had already interviewed. My translator got a little angry with him and started yelling at him. Something along the lines of "She is American and she paid lots of money to come study our culture, your religion, your temple, your village and you can not even talk to her for 5, 10 minutes! Se traveled so far..." At that point myself and my other translator (Surphon) cut him off.

Discouraged, we ventured out into the village to do some interviews. Near the end of the morning, I started having really bad hot and cold flashes, dizzy head, and my muscles were all super sore. I went and took an extra long nap and felt a little better. However, later that night I started to feel bad again. Wednesday morning we were driving out to the temples and stopped at the bakery we always stop at, and I knew I had to talk to my teacher. She made me miss the field school and go to the doctor, which I was not too pleased with.

The doctor did some blood tests, and I will know what's wrong with me Thursday morning. It could be dengue fever, but I think it's more along the lines of heat exhustion. I am just happy it's not stomach problems!

Anyways, that's how my week has been going. Hopefully Thursday and Friday will be a little better. When I get back to the village, I will take some pictures to post.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


On Saturday I went to Udong which is just north of Phnom Penh. It is pretty much a big hill with a big statue and a couple of stupas which house old kings. As soon as our van doors open kids were upon us like wild dogs. Each child quickly latches on to a forienger and "guides" them through the mountain, even if you dont want them too. At first I resented them because I wanted to be able to enjoy the view and sights in tranquility, but it's so hard to turn down these desperate children. So I was moved along Udong by a 12-year-old boy who rattled off a history lesson I didn't pay attention to, and an incredibly cute 10-year-old who fanned me the entire time. Of course it was expected to give them money at the end, but how can I resist giving money to children who have so little? Anyways the first picture is taken at the first stupa near the top. You can see other stupas in the distance, to get to them I had to walk up and down steep steps along the top of the mountain.

After Udong we went to a nearby temple which was incredibly rich. The temple houses the real life body of a famous monk who died and you can go view the body in all of its decaying wonder. I saw the feet and ran. I went outside and this little old monk calls me over, and I talked to him for awhile in Khmer! I was very proud of myself, and I think the little old monk was very tickled. The third picture is in front of the Vihear at the rich temple, and the second is a view of Udong from the Vihears porch.

Today I went to the Russian market and bought way too many things. Hopefully I am able to get it all home. I know I will have no problem from Thailand to home, but Cambodia to Thailand may be a little tricky. I will just have to buy a cheap knock off coach duffle bag,