These first couple of days in Phnom Penh have been very interesting. The initial shock is starting to wear off and they city it starting to feel more like home each day. On Wednesday we met the students from the Royal University of Fine Arts who will be acting as our translators during our time in the villages. The university was very pretty and the students friendly. Everyone in the city wants to talk to the Americans or take pictures with us and the students at the Royal university were no exception. One girl came up and talked to me for a good forty minutes, we discovered our shared love of the Powder Puff Girls. She then proceeded to tell me when I spoke Khmer I "sound like baby learning to talk for first time". Oh Great...On Friday we went to Wat Phnom, the Royal Palace, the National Museum and the Russian Market. Wat Phnom was pretty and had monkeys and bats all over the place. One of the guys on my trip got cornered by a lady who kept saying she was very happy to see him. She says "I so happy to see you, I have gift" and gives him a fake acrylic nail out of her purse. We are still trying to figure out what possible meaning a fake nail could hold. We dont think she was a lady of the night because she also paid a man to have her picture taken with the guy from my group. Anyways the Royal Palace was breath taking. There were large courtyards, sculptures and pagodas everywhere. I took a video which I will hopefully be able to upload at some point! The National Museum was by far my favorite place we have gone so far. The museum mostly has sculptures from the Funan, Angkor and Post Angkor periods. I have been studying about these different time periods for the past two years so to see sculptures from these times was an amazing experience. I plan on going back again today. The Russian market was one of the smelliest places I have been. My friend and I skipped trying to buy stuff and went and had a few Angkor Beers in the food area. Saturday was one of the most depressing days so far. We went to the Toul Slang prison and the killing field used for that prison. The Toul Slang prison also known as S-21 was used to torture people during the Khmer Rouge. After they gave up their "confession" the prisoners were then taken to the Choung Mek which is a big field with pits. There they would be clubbed, throats slashed and thrown into the pit. Often these prisoners were never guilty and the reason for their deaths are in explainable.
So that has been my week thus far. Today (Sunday at 8 am here) we have free so I think the girls are going to go get foot massages, pedicures and manicures for a total of $9. The place should be okay to go to health wise because it is part of a NGO project which teaches street children different service skills so they can later be employed. This upcoming week we will be at the Royal University hearing four speakers and learning different field methods. I will try to see if I can maybe set up a flickr account which might let me upload pictures and video bet tr then blogspot. If anyone has any suggestions for any other good sites please let me know.