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,



  1. Emma,
    You are experiencing so much...I understand your sorrow with being alone; I experience this same feeling so often. I love you and you may feel loneliness but know you are NEVER alone. We all support you but it's not the same as physical moral support, I how I love thee sissee..

  2. Love you bex, thanks for always checking up on me! Being alone is a good growing experience, but you can only take so much.