The Phnom Penh Projects Abroad volunteers have a monthly ‘Special Dinner’ in which we all go out for a Khmer (Cambodian) meal. This month’s Special Dinner (last Friday night) was unique, and definitely ‘Special’! The venue was a VERY Khmer type place, with long tables outside and plastic chairs that would never support a fat tourist's behind. They laid out plenty of free soft-drinks, and a few Khmer-type drinks too – I was intrigued to try the ‘Grass Jelly’ drink on the table. As I’m usually up for new experiences, and no one else was game to try this Khmer drink, I dutifully poured the dark black liquid into a glass and took a swig. Hmm, how to describe ‘Grass Jelly’? One, I’m really not sure what ‘Grass Jelly’ is in the first place, but the taste was reminiscent of black liquorice and mud. So of course I encouraged everyone else nearby to try this delicious drink! Their faces were priceless…
Shortly thereafter, plates of Khmer food and yes, you guessed it, rice came out and we tucked in. We played the game of “What Do You Think We’re Eating?”, a frequent game we play in Cambodia at our dinner tables, and soon after, the plates were pretty devoid of food. The atmosphere was similar to an outdoor club, as it was very dark with loud music blaring and strangely enough, a large screen was playing a US movie that reminded me of something you would see on TV at 2:30am when you get home from the bars and are too drunk to notice what you’re watching.
We were all chatting away to the person next to us (as that’s the only person who would be able to hear you over the loud music) when a group of young people/kids dressed in similar clothes began to stand in the front of the restaurant. Three teenagers took the stage, and WOW, they were AMAZING dancers. It seemed that they had spent many hours rehearsing to the Black Eyed Peas and Beyonce and their choreography was of a Jennifer Lopez caliber. What really made this meal ‘Special’ was the really cute kids (maybe 12 or 13 years old?) who had obviously worked hard to be in a dance-troupe and they were really putting their hearts into it! The ‘Awww’ moment was when one of the dancers’ little brother, aged about four, came out in the centre of the stage and did some kicks and head spins! That was a really hard performance to top!
However, the next performer really tried her (his?) best – a Khmer wo(man) with a Beyonce-type wig and shimmering black dress came on stage and did her (his) best to lip-synch to Whitney Houston a la Pricilla Queen of the Desert. That was just TOO priceless. At least 5-6 of my fellow volunteers had whipped out their cameras and were videoing this ‘tribute act’ along with my best attempt to capture this ‘stunning’ performance. Unfortunately I can only include photos on this blog, and not videos, as this would be something for you to experience/ behold. Ah well, you’ll just have to come to Phnom Penh and see this for yourself!
I’m nervous. Scared, terrified, excited and sad. I could give you a billion different synonyms for how I’m feeling.
I just can’t believe that today is my last day in Phnom Penh. I finish placement today and tonight I’m flying to Bangkok with a friend I met here. The down side is we’re on separate flights and most likely will not be able to call each other when we land. I’m hoping we just find each other.
I can’t believe I’ve lived here for four months. If you haven’t guessed by now this is the stunned blog where all I write is “I can’t believe”.
But seriously it’s crazy; I just don’t understand that I’m leaving it feels weird. I’m not going back to Australia straight away, which has also contributed to the anxiety I’m feeling.
I’m terrified of what the next three weeks will bring but I’m thankful that I’ll be catching up with people from Australia and hanging with Susanne during this time.
This experience has been such an eye opener for me. It probably sounds clichéd to say that I’ve really grown as a person but I think I have. I came here with no real expectations (although I didn’t expect there to be a shopping mall) and I was pleasantly surprised and, I admit, sometimes frustrated.
I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve missed home and then I’ve dreaded home. It has been a rollercoaster of a ride. One that I will never ever forget, I’m pretty sure it’s burned into my mind.
I’ve both loved and hated my time here and as I’m writing this I’m doing my best to not cry, which is proving really hard. The keyboard keeps getting blurry.
I’ve been at an amazing publication for placement, it’s high quality journalism and professionalism set it aside from other print media in the region. I know that I’ve been privileged to work as an intern at the Southeast Asia Globe.
I’m also very lucky to have had support from home; my family, friends and boyfriend especially have been amazing. They’ve put up with emails, phone calls and messages from me that haven’t always sounded that positive.
My friends over here have also been great and if it weren’t for them it would have been so much harder to stay.
When I first got here I met some great people and then they all left but soon after more fantastic people turned up. It’s funny how you just make friends; it’s almost like an instinct.
Finally the Projects Abroad team and the people I work with have been fantastic. I will miss them all so much.
So now here I am sitting at my desk at placement thinking that in 12 hours time I will be in Bangkok.
Time is a funny thing; you either have too much or not enough of it. I partly wish I was going home, I feel like the book should be closed on this adventure but it still isn’t over. So all I can really do now is sit back and enjoy. Gosh I hope I enjoy it!
Like I said; I’m terrified but I’m almost there. Now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s funny, I’ve missed so many things about Australia but there are going to be so many things that I miss about Cambodia.
I know one thing: I’m going to have to keep travelling the world. I seem to have friends from all over the globe now so I’m going to have to visit them. Especially Denmark and Canada.
Travelling by yourself can be a scary experience though and I didn’t realise how frightening it could be until I did it. Before I left Australia someone said I was brave, I didn’t think I was at the time and I still don’t. There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity and this was probably more stupidity because it was fuelled by my desperate desire to leave Australia.
But at least I can say that I lived in Cambodia for four months now.
I’m not sure if this will be my last blog or if I will continue to write when I’m travelling. I can’t look that far into the future yet because I still don’t really understand that I’m leaving Cambodia. It hasn’t quite hit me yet, maybe like when I left Australia it will hit me on the plan.
I guess this means it's summer holidays. Yipeee!!!!!!!!!
So as it’s almost December, Merry Christmas!
In November there are two main festivals celebration which the day that Cambodian was looking for.
58th Independence Day for Cambodian(1953-2011)
Cambodia used to be under protection of France in other word under colonial of France from 1863 to 1953 which was a long period of time. Former Kind Norodoom Shihanouk, the father of the current King was the person decided to access an independent from France after years in 1953. Up until 09-Nov- 2011, that was our 58th Independence Day. We had celebrated at Independence Monument – the statue which was built once we won in accessing the independence from France.
This year, Independence coincided with the first day of Water Festival.
Happy Independence Day, Cambodia
Water Festival Celebration
In 2011, the celebration took place from 09th-11th Nov which in happen as the same time of Independence day on 09th November 2011. We still celebrated both of the events.
This year, although the boat race would not exist in Water Festival celebrations in Phnom Penh as the government decided to put the resources for the flood victims, but the Cambodians still flocked to the capital to celebrate this event and there are many celebrations, boat races and fireworks in Siem Reap too. Cultural displays and traditional boat races make up a fantastic weekend of celebration and fun not to be missed!
Arrived Saigon in the dark and it was mad, crazy, busy. Managed to cross the road and locate hotel despite being stopped every 30 seconds by eager tuk tuk, moto, hotel peddlers. Not in the best mood as I was tired after horrible bus journey,hungry and hot with a thumping headache. However, hotel was okay and I found a nice local foodery and once I had some noodles and beer, felt better. Saigon is so vibrant and full of energy but it was just an overnight stop as back to Phnom Penh/Sihoukville next day.
Up early the next morning and found my bus pick up point in good time. Then I waited,and waited. Bus left an hour late and kept stopping. When we eventually rocked up in PP, I had missed my connection to Sihanoukville and had to stay overnight in horrible guest house. However, had a nice dinner on Riverside and met up with other volunteers at lovely Titanic restaurant as they were taking out the house cooks for dinner. So the evening ended well and next morning I had booked the bus out. Had breakfast on Riverside and stolled to bus office for 8.15am to be met by cross bus girl waving paper and shouting at me. "'Madame - I say you get here 8.00 - you late!'' She bundled me on the back of a moto and the moto driver - full of the excitment of a bus chase - set off at breakneck speed through the streets of Phnom Penh. I just closed my eyes and hoped my Guardian Angels were paying attention. Screeched to a halt by the bus that actually didn't leave for another half an hour. Oh well! Had a nice chat with American from Oregan on the journey that passed the time.
I arrived at Sihanoukville and just love the relaxed,laid back atmosphere after the crazy cities. Nice weather today,nice beaches, lovely swimming and good cheap restaurants. Perfect for a chill our end of trip. One more day here then back to Phonm Penh, pick up suitcase and then......Monday, Heathrow!
Robyn has spent two months in Phnom Penh for voluntary work. She had allocated to SCC the school centre which made a wonderful time in her life.
Friday last week was her last day in Phnom Penh so she and a group of volunteers and staff had a dinner at a very nice restaurant called Olympic Khmer Thai and had a ice cream at Blum Pumkin.
Everyone enjoyed the food and happied to get together. Have a safe trip Robyn.
Saturday this week, A group of volunteers will do a Dity Weekend at VDTO that we will spend a whole day together to finish the plan. However, Saturday last week we went to the puppet theater to see the interesting show at Sovanna Phum Association Art.
We spent only an hours to see the performance which consisted of three show, it was Giant Mask, Monkey dance show and the last one was Large Puppet show. We should mention that the Monkey dance show is not originally from Khmer Culture.
To know how it was interesting please take a look at the pictures.
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