Thursday, 8 March 2012

A day in life in Kampuchia

Ice coffee during break at school ...that is yummy condensed milk on the bottom.

It strikes me once in in a while as I am comfortably cycling in the chaotic traffic of Kampong Cham that this is my life in for the next two years.  Okay, I'll be in Sisophon, or Srei Sisophon, or Banteay Meanchey Town, (your choice) but Kampuchia all the same.

The other morning cycling to school, I passed a fellow on a bicycle with textiles piled high behind and in front of him as he pedalled his way to the market.  Once past him, I turned the corner and I got stuck behind a motorcyclist herding his cows down the road.  I rode through them slaloming the cow dung, and calves not wanting to get separated from their mother.  But these Bhramas ? (help me out Larry) have the sweetest faces with loppy ears making them so endearing...except for the poo.

 As I played chicken through the intersection and negotiated my way onto the street the school is on, there was a no entry sign which bikes and motos can ignore.  Just outside the school there were 2 very long tents with music blaring indicating the preparations for a wedding ceremony which continues for at least 2 days. Unfortunately it was directly across from the school.  Can you imagine 6 hours of Khmer, trying to get your mouth and tongue around undecipherable sounds to the competition of some outrageously inharmonious music.  Holy headache!

This is Dara.  He is a brilliant Khmer language teacher and a very lovely human being.  He was a youngster during the Khmer Rouge regime.  It is truly unbelievable to hear some of what he had to live through.  The lovely disposition of the people here and what they have experienced is remarkable.

 After class in the afternoon, we headed to a Vietnamese pancake shop for some dinner.  Incredibly good!

 These nummy pancakes are packed full of pork and bean sprouts.  You break pieces off and wrap them in the green leafy bits with cucumbers and dip them into a spicy-sweet-sour sauce.  This is full-on eating with your hands! 1 pancake per person.

On the way back to the hotel, the "jazzercise"  class was happening by the river.  This by the way is free and is as much about participation as it is about a spectator sport.  Some evenings, there are more motorcycles lined up watching than there are jazzercisers!

 Just so that you know, it isn't all school work.  On Tuesday, we did have an introduction to what life will really be like when we get to our placements.  All of the partners from around Cambodia came to Kampong Cham where we met our "employers" and had our eyes open to life full of translating and smiles.  My contact spoke zero English and I'm afraid my Khmer is purely academic at this stage.  However, I did get interest when I asked my person to write "my name is Andy/Andrea" in Khmer script.  It looks lovely!  (I'm called Andy here because it seems easier for people to pronounce.)

Lunch was fish, vegetables, lots and lots of rice, beef and veggies, with fresh fruit for dessert.

And, just so you don't think it is all sunshine, sweaty heat, and blue sky.  It did rain for about 10 minutes while we were eating lunch.  Unfortunately, it didn't cool things off much.

Well, that about sums it up for now.  I'm off to my placement for a week to meet everyone, hire a translator, open a bank account, post office box, and find a place to live.  Should be interesting.  I leave at 7:30 am and arrive at 4:00 pm.  However, it is probably the distance to Kelowna from GF.

Life continues to be amazing and every day is an adventure of some sort.  I'll leave you with a picture of a favourite...Tom Yam Soup.  Hope you are all doing well and don't forget to drop me a line.  Nothing like getting mail!  Lots of love and good health to one and all.  See you next blog.


  1. Hi Andrea! Just wanted to let you know that I'm reading your blog, it looks like you're having an amazing time! I have to admit I'm jealous of all your new adventures....and language classes!

    I finished season 2 of Downtown abbey....when does the new season start?


    1. Annie what is your mailing address? I want to send you a notey with my grad pic :)

  2. ha louise this is a random place to ask for my address! 3874 Lancaster Rd. Victoria BC V8X 2B3