Saturday, June 9, 2012

My last day...

This will be my last post for my Cambodia trip.
I leave tomorrow to meet up with my old college roommate in Thailand to conclude my Asia trip. We will be staying in Bangkok for a few nights then in Phuket and then home!

I am so excited to come home to my family and my wonderful boyfriend. Just typing about them makes me tear up, I miss them terribly and I miss the comfort of home.
Though, I am not excited to come back to western attitudes, just recently I have seen a few American advertisements and it brings me back to the American culture. I feel like people are so self absorbed and I hate that. In Cambodia, it is about serving others, and demonstrating love and care for those around you. In the states, many people solely serve themselves; they do not know the beauty of helping others. Self absorption lingers in every corner of the states. I feel like so many people are superficial and I am dreading arriving at the LAX airport in California. That is not to say everyone is like that, but I know many people are and it deeply saddens me to see people wasting their lives on themselves.

This trip has been so wonderful. I have developed a love for this country and I will miss the little quirks that I have discovered in this side of the world. My last day at the orphanage was beautifully set up. I was showered with kisses and hugs all day. I even had an older boy miss school so he could be with me on my last day. All of the children were anxious to take pictures with me and they fought to hold my hand when we were walking around. One boy that I have become attached to gave me a huge hug and looked me in the eyes and said, “No don’t go”, I wanted to cry, I loved bringing a piece of happiness to these children’s lives. I will miss them so much and I really wish they could end the life of poverty that is set out for them. I had a translator tell all the children how wonderful they are and how important it is to study and follow their dreams. I told them they need to study very hard so they can come visit me in the states. They loved my “advice” and cheered in agreement after I spoke.
As I was leaving, some children blessed me and my travels, others chased my tuk tuk and ran beside the carriage while holding my hand. At this point I really wanted to cry. It has been such a great time and I will never forget these kids.

Yesterday, I went to visit the Toul sleng Genocide Museam (S-21) and I went to the Killing Fields. During this day trip I learned more about the Khmer Rouge regime and the happenings during Pol Pot’s reign. I was so disturbed by everything I saw at S-21, one building in the prison was left untouched and you can see blood stains on the ground and the tiny 5x4 cells that the prisoners were kept in. The stories were utterly devastating and I could not believe this mass genocide happened in the 70’s. Later we went to the Killing Fields and we were able to hear an audio guide in English speak about each station. Human remains still rise from the ground and the happenings at this place made me sick. I don’t even want to repeat the stories. I just pray that the families of these victims find peace through all of the sadness. It was good to experience these two places and I am glad I actually did. I am usually very frightened of crimes including physical harm and so it was difficult for me to accept these things actually happened. But, in order to become a more informed citizen, one must face the realities of the world.

Looking at things now, I am so blessed to be able to travel parts of the world and learn different cultures. I know that this opportunity is not set up for everyone and it is important to recognize the privilege it is to travel.  During this trip, I have learned traits I possess that I never knew I had. The amount of strength I thought I had… was far less than what I actually hold. When facing the world alone, you have to buck up, get over your sadness and find a reason for yourself. From this trip, I have learned different ways of viewing the world and found ways of incorporating different perspectives into life. I am more set in who I am and I have adapted to trusting my being and my conscious. I also now appreciate my country and the freedom that I have. I love the U.S…I really can’t deny that, the freedoms I am given are tremendous compared to others.
 I love the people in Cambodia. I will really miss the friends I have made here. My Cambodian friends want to come to the U.S so badly, they want to see North America and some even want to move there. I wish to see them again someday.

 I was told this country is truly a special place…and it really is.
It is an absolutely wonderful place and I hope to return someday.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hidden sadness in Western fun...

This weekend the volunteers decided to take a weekend trip to Sihanoukville, which is a beach off of the Gulf of Thailand. It was a fun trip..but there was so much sadness surrounding us that people were unaware of.

I find myself becoming very irritated of normal cultural happenings.
For the last few days I have had a lot of stress weighing me down.Okay, some of this post will be me venting my frustrations, be prepared. I apologize beforehand.

First of all, we were told the bus ride was 3 hours long. After leaving an hour and a half after scheduled time, we arrived 6 hours later. Bus rides are not fun and you can never trust that it will take only a few hours.On the bus they played the most annoying movie that was all in Khmer. The voices were so high pitched and the acting was terrible. We did not have a choice whether we could have headphones or not to listen to the movie. You were just obligated to hear it no matter what. I had the worst headache ever and the sounds of the voices were stabbing into my head. I tried to use the Bose noise cancelling headphones to block the sounds out, but the pitches even were heard through NOISE CANCELING headphones while I was playing music! Then the lady behind me would randomly yell things out and it was very irritating. On top of this, it was a 6 hour ride that we thought was going to be 3 hours so we never knew how close or far we were from our destination.

Anyway, we finally arrived and set up our camp in bungalows by the beach. The bungalows were only $15 bucks a night for up to 4 people. They were quaint little places, accompanied by large mosquito nets and 1 electrical unit. In the morning it started pouring rain, so I woke up early due to the loud rainfall on the metal roof. After settling in we hit the beach! The water was very warm but extremely salty! I swear it was 100 times more salty than beaches in the states. We took lots of pictures, body surfed, swam, and just had a great time. That evening we went out to dinner and I discovered my favorite drink in the world! It is a coconut shake. They taste so amazingly fresh and they were only $1! I got everyone hooked on this shake and we ordered them all weekend.
There were westerners all over this town. I believe many people travel to this beach during the year so that is why there are so many western people. There are kids everywhere trying to sell bracelets, hairbands, and little things. Then there are women begging to give you pedicures/manicures and thread your legs (which is like waxing but removing hair with a thread). There were so many people trying to sell products or services. I tried to read a book on the beach but there was no point because you get interrupted every 5 minutes for people trying to sell things. One girl came up to me and was saying that I promised her I would buy something from her, but I never promised this girl and I don't even remember seeing her. She stuck around me for like 15 minutes glaring and was angry at me, she even hit me! I never promised anyone I would buy something! It was seriously annoying to be accused of promising people then have them mad at me for no reason.
Anyway, that evening everyone went out to bars on the beach. I was seriously not interested. There were a bunch of hippies everywhere, white people drunk trying to make you come into the bar, people messed up on drugs, and so was not my scene at all. But for SOME reason most of the volunteers think it is fun, and its really not, in my opinion. I did not want to walk back alone so I waited until a few other people wanted to go back to our bungalows. One girl agreed with me that the bar scene at this beach was ridiculous and not fun at all, so we walked back together.

The next morning we took a boat out to tour 3 islands, snorkel, and have a bbq on the beach! It was so nice. For the boat ride, snorkeling, bbq, and breakfast it was $15 and it lasted about 6-7 hours. We got to explore some islands and there were seashells everywhere! It was incredible, I wanted to take some home but they had they most horrendous smell and I could not figure out why, so I just left them. I tried to snorkel but it was scary! I think I am too scared of seeing fish and sea urchets (sp?) in the ocean to truly enjoy it. I saw the coral for about 5 minutes but was too scared to keep doing it. The coral was all bleached out white and for some reason it freaked me out.
The bbq was amazing, we a Khmer guide who grilled some chicken on the beach, we ate it with salad and bread. It has been my favorite meal since I have been in Cambodia.
We ended up back in Sihanoukville that evening and everyone wanted to go out to more bars after dinner. This was when things were exposed to me that were terribly sad.

I did not want to stay out at the bars, but again, no one would walk back to the bungalow with me so I had to stick it out. It is too scary to walk back at night alone so I waited.
There were people drinking everywhere, the smells of marijuana filled the air, I saw people who seemed to be messed up on drugs, there were prostitutes everywhere...literally everywhere. White old western men with prostitutes all over them. It was disgusting!  And that's not even the worst part...
there were still begging children out and surrounded in this environment. It was 11:30 pm and they were begging for food along with old men who were missing limbs begging. I was sitting outside of the bar, with a little boy eating a meal that was given to him, sick looking children begging for food, and a little girl sitting on my lap wanting to be loved...all while there was blaring music, prostitutes dancing, everyone drinking, old nasty men with women, and westerners everywhere. Why wouldn't anyone want to leave with me!? I still don't understand how or why anyone would think it was okay to stay there.

I was utterly embarrassed that my culture (westerners) were contributing to this environment by buying drinks, staying out at bars, and acting like everything was fine when it clearly was very messed up. A few of the volunteers thought it was a bad environment, but no one would leave.  Seriously it made me really upset. At this moment I wanted nothing more but to go home, back to the states, where I would feel my close friends and family would understand me and why I thought this was wrong!
Finally at 12pm some people were ready to go and so we went back to the place we were staying.

The next day we went out to the beach for a little longer then we took the bus back to Phnom Penh.

I feel so misunderstood here. I really don't feel like I fit in with any of the volunteers. It is here that I truly realize how introverted I am and how I would like to have close connections with just a few people. I did not come to Cambodia to drink every night, or party often, or indulge in either of those ideas. I came to work with the children. I came to serve others. I came to provide support, affection, love, and to teach. I know that it is okay to go out once in awhile, but if I feel uncomfortable in a situation how am I suppose to leave if no one will leave with me? I have left early from so many places. For instance, we will go out to dinner then people will want to go have drinks, and I leave early. Or we will be at a bar and people will want to stay, and I leave early. Or we are out dancing and people want to stay, and I leave early. It is like a joke now with the volunteers because they know I will always leave early. I feel obligated to go out all the time because everyone else goes out! But most of the time I don't want to.
And its not that I don't think it is fun, or because I am a "prude" or because of anything like that.
It is because consciously I do not feel good when I go out all the time when I came here to have a solid mind and to invest my energy into helping others...not serving myself. Plus, I like going out with people who love and support me, or who know who I am....these people don't know me or care for who I actually am. And its not they are bad people or anything. We just have different ideals and views of fun. I don't just gets hard.

Anyway, today is a holy day so I do not work at the orphanage, so I am just chilling at the guest house, reading and applying for jobs back home. I also really miss going to church, I haven't gone in 3 weeks and I have only seen 1 catholic church that was like 2 hours away on the bus. I have been praying to just keep my strength and to remain true to myself, and not fall into being what everyone wants me to be.

Well, I should go, it is my last full week in Cambodia, then I go to Thailand for a week with my old college roommate. That should be fun.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cambodia, Cambodia, how I love thee...

The flat tire...
Well we arrived safely back from Siem Reap on Sunday. Though, our bus got a flat tire on the way back! It was getting dark and all of a sudden the bus started slowing down and we came to a stop. The tire was completely blown out and the spare was flat too. We were about 45 miles out of Phnom Penh and the sun was setting fast. Luckily another bus that was headed to Phnom Penh stopped and we were able to ride with them, but it cost us an additional 4000 Riel (which is only a dollar) so it wasn't too bad, except for the fact that the bus smelled like dirty feet, haha.

Anyway, all of the workers at the guesthouse are so sweet. They barely know English but they make attempts to communicate and I also try to speak in Khmer. Mostly we communicate with gestures and lots of smiles. They always call me, "Sissttaaa Emo-leee!" It is so sweet, they always refer to me as "Sista". They make the most amazing fruit shakes, I am seriously in love. It is almost like a milkshake but thinner and with fruit. The mixed fruit and the mango shake are my favorite! But I have been loosing my appetite again, for awhile I was able to eat just fine and I would actually get hungry. But for the last 3 days I have not been hungry, I almost dread meal times because I know I have to eat and I am not interested in food! But regardless I eat anyways so I don't get sick. Blahhh.

One weird thing about Cambodia: They don't accept old bills. I have not exchanged my currency into Riel at all and usually everyone accepts dollar bills. But if you give them a bill that is relatively old they will not accept it! It is the strangest thing...
They also have checked to see if my $10 bills are fake, haha it is really funny. It is only $10! But that is actually a good chunk of money in Cambodia.

I have been getting terrible heat rash since I have been here. My whole body has been covered in little bumps, and they itch when it is hot or I am sweaty. Much of it has cleared up and now I only have it on my back so it is not that bad. I really wish I brought some calamine lotion or something to ease rashes/itching.

There are begging children everywhere. I cant believe that some of them are out until 9:30-10:00 pm going into restaurants and begging for money! It is unreal. Yesterday I had a boy come up to me while I was at the gas station in a tuk tuk. He was begging for money or something, so I gave him some Oreo's I had in my purse and he seemed content with that. They told us not to give the children money, but rather give them food and watch them eat it so you know their parents don't take it from them. If we give them money then sometimes their parents keep them from school and they are denied education and just sent off to beg.

Some of the kids in my English class
Things at the orphanage are going so well. I love being there. I use to go from 8:30 until 4:00 pm but I recently changed my schedule. They have a 4 hour lunch/nap at the orphanage and usually all the volunteers leave and have lunch but I live too far away to go home! So I pack lunch and usually sit around for the 4 hours not doing much. It is kind of frustrating. Then in the mornings, there are 4 volunteers and only 6 children so there is not much for me to do. So usually I go in from 10-4 and on occasion I will arrive at 1 pm and stay until 4. At 1 pm we create our lesson plans then I have two 1 hour classes from 2-4. It just depends on what is going on that day. We are not allowed to eat with the children during lunch because they usually just get rice and a small soup or something. The volunteers usually have much more detailed meals so they like us to eat aside from them. But, if I have extra food, I can give it to the kids and I never can finish my food so I end up giving it to them.

I just call him baby, he loves to be snuggled!
 Many of the children cannot say my name correctly so they just call me, "Mo-Lee" and that seems to work just fine. All of the village children come to the orphanage to have free English class and they love it. The other day we taught them how to play duck duck goose and they think it is so fun! They say, "Duk duk duk FROOSE!" Haha, I try to work on their pronunciation but English was not their first language so it is very difficult. Yesterday one of the village children came to class and he fell and cut a really deep cut on his eyebrow. It almost looked like it needed stitches, it was very deep. So we put some medicine on his cut and one of the workers asked me to walk him home. He only lives 200 feet away so I asked her why we needed to walk him home. She told me that she remembers that his mother beats him and we need to explain to his mother that he fell on accident and it was not his fault so he does not get beat.
Playing in the flood! 
It was such an alarming thought to me, thinking of walking a child home who potentially may be beaten for something that was an accident...
Today I witnessed my first monsoon! It was a huge rain storm and after 15 minutes it had rained nearly 3 inches! The orphanage had started to flood a bit but the children enjoyed playing in the rain. They were running around soaking wet, playing games, laying in the flood, and having a great time. I have never seen it rain that hard in my life and I live in the Northwest so that should tell you something!

Laying in the flood waters
Well, today was quite eventful! This morning we were able to witness one day of the Khmer Rouge trials. For those who do not know, The Khmer Rouge was the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975-1979 and were part of the U.N until the 90's. They were responsible for mass genocide, torture, enslavement, sexual crimes, and much more. They killed an estimated 2 million people in Cambodia over the 4 years. These crimes happened quite recently and the country is still recovering from the times of the Khmer Rouge. Many people in the country were directly effected by the Rouge and nearly everyone over the age of 40 has a story to tell.  
Anyway, the Khmer Rouge trials started about 7 years ago and they are still in session in hopes of seeking justice for the individuals who were involved with such grave crimes. 
Today we saw one of the trials, we were nearly 50 feet away from Noun Chea (brother #2) and Khieu Samphan. 
Noun Chea was personally charged for crimes 
against humanity, genocide, and war crimes. Khieu Samphan has charges regarding  murder, extermination, imprisonment, persecution on political grounds and other inhumane acts.

It was so weird to be so close to people who committed such evil acts of violence. It was a surreal experience but I believe it was very good to witness at least one day of the trials. This truly is a historical event and the trials are very important to Cambodians. 

Anyway, I am currently in a SUPER western coffee shop with free wifi. It kinda makes me feel like I am at home. It is times like this that I feel a little emotional and wish I had someone here to support me and really see what I am experiencing. There has been so much going on and my emotions can get jumbled at times. When you travel alone, you really realize different facets of yourself and you never really know how strong you are until you are put in a trying situation. I am surprised at the strength I possess, I never knew I had this in me.    

Until next time,


Monday, May 28, 2012

Picture update for those without a facebook!

Sadi, he is such a sweetie pie

The area near the orphanage 

Lunch time at the orphanage

Playing games!

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap!

At Angkor Wat

Monkey near the temples

Me at Angkor Wat

Some Volunteers!

Awesome trees

Angkor Bayon 

Preparing for a fish pedicure

Fish pedicures!

The market food...

Local snacks

Last night in Siem Reap

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Khmer children, people, and places

Oh goodness I dont even know where to start writing when I begin a post. So much has been going on and it has been incredible! My mind is full of little stories and memories that I will keep forever.

First of all, I cant believe I am only here for three weeks, it is so sad. I am already growing attachments to the children and there are at least 4 that I honestly would like to adopt if I had a stable home. The kids are so silly and fun, I love being with them and they love being with me. Everyday they say, "Halloo!!!" and run up to hug me. I work in a very poor part of Cambodia, one of the poorest locations in the world. The orphanage is placed about a mile down a dusty road which is lined by shacks of sheet metal and wood for homes. The river is about 500 feet down a small cliff and during the rainy season the water rises so high that it floods the entire orphanage. The people suffice to traveling by boat rather than moto bikes or cars. It is a crazy thought.
The children are all in poor conditions. All of the girls are filled with lice. I am so paranoid about getting lice but I do not want to deny the children affection because of it. They always come up and hug or hold me so it is difficult. I just tie my hair up really tight and try to keep subtle distance from their heads. Though, I mostly work with boys so it is not too much of a problem. Most of the kids have rotting teeth and rarely can brush them. But they have the most genuine beautiful smiles in the world.
One of the little girls was left at their front gate at only a couple days old. It is very sad, but the children all love each other and they are so happy to play together. Though I also work with older boys, (13-19). I can see in them that they feel an empty spot in their heart and sometimes I see them dazing off with a sad face. My main focus is to ameliorate their experience by making them smile or laugh and practice English with me! I love all of the kids so much...they are so precious.
I cannot really feel my emotions while I am in the field. It is like my emotions are numb and then when I come home sometimes I get overwhelmed with their lifestyle and start crying. They are so, so poor. They eat random things off the street and are always...always barefoot. I like rubbing the little ones feet and playing "this piggy went to the market" with them...they love it! The placement is very dirty and you cannot be afraid to get dirty. I sweat all day, then I am covered in dust, and I have children hanging all over me for 8 hours, and there are bugs everywhere, so it is a very unclean environment. But it is mind over matter, I don't mind because I am there for the kids!
My days are split into two sections, in the morning I take care of the little ones. I play with them, take them to get washed up if they are dirty, comfort them if they are hurt and so on. In the afternoon I do two classes, one where I am the main teacher and I teach English for one hour, this class is for students around 7-13. Then in the afternoon I assist a Khmer teacher who teaches English to the older kids, 14-19. I provide them with the correct pronunciation of the words and will read out loud. One day I was teaching and a little girl came to me after class while I was grading homework and kissed me! It was so sweet. The little boys love teasing me and playing jokes on is really funny. But they told one of the Khmer teachers I pronounce their names very well in the Khmer pronunciation, so that made me feel good! (Mind you, none of the children I work with know English)

I almost resent writing about the orphanage because my words don't do justice for the reality of the situation. It is just an experience that one must see and feel.

Anyways! I can not find regular soap to save my life here..
All Cambodians want to be WHITE just like Americans want to be TAN! It is crazy! All of the soap has labels that say, "Extra white glow" "Become more white" "Beautifully white"and so on!!! It is so frustrating! So I subjected to buying baby soap...hey whatever works right!?

I somehow forgot my headache was the most important thing on my packing list and somehow it is not in my bag. So I went to the pharmacy the other day and asked the doctor for something for headache..he asked me if it was a strong headache and I said yes. Then he came back with codeine...I was like this is for serious pain like after surgery, I am not taking this! Haha! So he ended up giving me another one but I just thought it was crazy that you could sell codeine over the counter.

The men here think white women are crazy beautiful. I had a man stop me and ask if I am married and he tried to get my phone number. He was dead serious too, like not laughing or anything. Then last night a guy came up to mean and said something in Khmer. He said, "You know what that mean? It mean I love you!" Haha they are so funny...but I never wear makeup here and I am always soaking in sweat and they still try to hit on you!

I have become much more relaxed here, in the morning my guesthouse lights incense and they house is all open so it flows throughout the house, it is so comforting. I also have finally been hungry and enjoying food! But not really traditional Khmer food...just basic things like chicken curry. I have the most amazing breakfast in the mornings, it is a fruit plate with bananas, watermelon, dragon fruit, pineapple, mangos, and some kind of apple thing. The mangos literally melt on your tongue it is amazing!!!!

Yesterday we decided to go to Siem Reap to see the temples. It was a 6 hour bus ride, there were no highways or anything, all back roads and it was soooo bumpy! The bathroom was a 3 foot door with 2 buckets...
We had no time to eat breakfast or lunch because we were rushing so we were surviving off of oreos and chips, it was terrible. The temples closed at 6 and we got there at 3 so we only had 3 hours.
They are the most AMAZING temples in the world! Oh my gosh they are so intricate and beautiful! I was so in love...and it was raining so we were all drenched in sweat and rain. It was crazy. Afterwards we went out to the most western style restaurant ever and ate burgers and pasta. We are such cheaters...

Anyway, I am heading back on the bus to Phnom Penh soon. Watch my facebook for pictures..some are amazing!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It is setting in...

Finally I have time to write!
So much has been going on and I have not found the time to update.

Things are much better, initial shock is slightly going away, but sometimes I find myself still emotional or frustrated. We had orientation the first two days here with the other volunteers, so I was able to meet everyone and connect with them. Volunteers here come from all over, USA, South Africa, Denmark, Singapore, Dubai, England, France...etc. Everyone will be working at different places according to what program they wanted to volunteer with. Some will be at orphanages, some with NGO support, some with battered women, some with HIV/AIDS prevention, some with micro finance groups and so on...

Anyways, things are going well here! Except for the heat, it is unbearable, I am literally drenched in sweat all day and night. I already have lost weight here due to the heat and the food...
I cannot eat. I am not hungry at all. I have forced myself to eat so I dont get sick, but it is such a challenge. Initially I was so excited to try all the food and taste the Cambodian fanfare, but ohhhh my goodness it is not easy! Southeast Asia is not an easy place to "try new foods". The first day we went to a place called the Russian Market, it is where hundreds of vendors set up stands and sell goods + food. While in the market, I saw and smelled the most...lets just saw, unpleasant things. Whole pig snouts hanging from wires, whole ducks skinned with their heads still on, squids, snails, seafood and all kinds of meat. The most difficult thing was that they were sitting in the plain heat, not on ice or anything, so the smell was horrendous. I wanted to throw up and almost did several times. At the market I could not eat, I forced myself to eat some noodles and even that was a challenge. Even rice sounds gross to me because all I can think of is the smell. I am such a westernized snob and I hate it. I feel so guilty that I cannot enjoy any food. I really really wish I could. I am sure my body will adjust after awhile.
BUT last night we had an "introduction" dinner and I did try
-Frog (the whole frog, head and all)
-Cockroach (Doesn't taste bad but psychologically freaks me out and makes me think its disgusting!)
-Cricket (mehh)
-Silkworm (ew/meh)
-Beef with bugs (could not swallow, kept thinking of bugs in my teeth)

But other than the food the markets are great. There are no prices on anything and you barter everything. They have all kinds of amazing things to sell. The women will follow you until you buy something, or they will say "Laddddyyy, come herrr, i have dif calorr, I sell to you!" Everyone calls you, "Laddddyyyyy" It is funny, but I do feel so bad when I dont buy anything, I am trying hard not to feel guilty. There are tuk tuk drivers everywhere asking if you need a ride, they are so nice. "ehhh tuk tuk, you tuk tuk?"

The people here are so kind. They always are smiling and say "Hallo!", it is so cute and kind of them. I practiced some of the Khmer language with some of the workers at the volunteer house and they loved it. They would laugh at my pronunciation and smile while trying to teach me the words.

My most used phrases:

Sou s' dei - Hello
Aw khon- Thank you
Sohk sabaay te? - How are you
Sohk sabaay- I am fine
Thlai nah- Too expensive (for bartering at the market)

All of the volunteers have been going out together at night, but I am just not interested at this point. I am so tired by 6pm and then I wake up at like 4am every night. I didn't not realize jet lag would last this long but my body is so messed up with time right now. We are 14 hours ahead of WA State, so it is extremely difficult to adjust.

When I start thinking about home, or Gaston, I get emotional. I try not to think about it much so I can fully embrace my trip and so far it has been pretty good. On occasion I randomly will really miss him, especially when I am frustrated and just want to cry. He has provided a lot of support for me before this trip and he continues to message me and text when I have wifi. Errr, it is difficult but I am surprised at how strong I actually am.

Today I actually start working at the orphanage, it is 7 am now and I am being picked up at 8. I am anxious and nervous that my energy wont keep up. Yesterday I played with some children but became extremely dizzy after 30 mins in the heat. Other volunteers have told me they experience the same feelings on occasion...I have been drinking unreal amounts of water and eating nuts and stuff in between meals to keep the protein in my body. But I hope I can give the children the support and affection they need.

I feel dirty all the time, like I can never get clean. I take cold showers and after I am instantly sweating. Nothing will absorb into my body still! No sunblock or bug spray! So I always feel sticky. We walk barefoot when going to a house or sometimes building and it is very dusty and randomly wet also so I feel dirt all over my body. I need to get over feeling so concerned about being dirty and sweating, everyone else is also...but I literally sweat bullets and never have like this before.

Anyways, there is so much to write I don't even know where else to go from here. But here are some points that I want to remember to tell stories about when I come home:
-Moto bike crash
-Man with gun at market
-begging children
-begging adults with disabilities
-Lady at market saying no photo
-Girls bad news from home
-Kitten at Pagoda
-Women not being close to monks
-Being blessed by Pagoda worker
-Huge water cockroach at restaurant

Everything is going well so far and I am still adjusting, I hope my first day goes well!


Will write soon
 Love em

Sunday, May 20, 2012


I am super overwhelmed. Where do I start?
First of all I could'nt even find the person who was suppose to pick me up at the airport. I wanted to cry, I had no way of contacting them, I tried to ask some Khmer officials to help me and it didn't work. Eventually I found him out side with a sign saying UBELONG, I was very relieved.
I thought we would be taking a taxi from the airport..but it turns out we walked with the luggage out to the street then took a tuk tuk, which is a small moto bike with a wagon kind of thing attached.
Driving throughout the city was strange. There are people everywhere, moto bikes everywhere, cars and bikes on both sides of the road. Sometimes I would even see 4 people, a whole family, riding one bike.  There were shacks built out of wood and old sheet metal, these were some peoples homes. There are street vendors everywhere, trying to sell something to make their family money. Children running around, some with no pants, no clothes, or shoes. The smells...I felt as if I couldn't breathe because of the street exhaust from bikes and cars. And of course there was the smell of food, feces or something of that sort, and just street smells. Anyways, more about the town later.
It is so hot. I thought I would never enjoy cold showers but it is all I want to do. My room is 4 stories up and the heat and moisture can be felt easily. I couldn't sleep with a blanket because it was so hot. I went down stairs and a women gave me a fan for my room...honestly I don't think I could survive without it.
Right when you get out of the shower you are instantly sweating. Nothing would absorb into my skin, not even sunscreen, it just left a wet sweating look. It is very frustrating. I dont know how anyone would wear makeup here as it would just melt off.
There are other volunteers here, but I feel so awkward, some have already been here and I dont know how to connect with them. They are all talking and already close because they have been here and I just feel so alone. No one has made initiative to say hello...I just want to cry because I wish I could explain what I feel. Just sitting here hearing everyone talk makes me feel so alone.
Today is orientation, we will be touring the city and learning basic ideas of the culture.
 I woke up at 4 am and couldnt sleep since, now it is 7:10 and I need to eat breakfast.
Anyways, I am sure these are all natural feelings. I feel terrible and so frustrated with the heat and having no one to communicate to.
Sorry this is poorly written, I cant even think straight.
Wish me luck.