Voici les 3 classes d'enfants du matin, avec leurs prénoms, sur des posters confectionnés avec amour sur le sol de ma chambre. Les panneaux sont affichés depuis ce matin, ils étaient comme des petits fous.
C'est surtout pour avoir une chance de retenir leurs prénoms... Et de pouvoir les appeler plutôt que les pointer du doigt pour aller au tableau (ce qui en plus est très mal vu au Cambodge).
Un mois déjà que je suis arrivé à Phnom Penh, et il me semble que je suis ici depuis toujours.
Non pas que je m'ennuie, mais je suis réglé sur un nouveau quotidien, très différent de celui que j'avais à Paris. Au contraire, cela passe comme un éclair et bientôt je me réveillerai dans mon lit parisien et je me demanderai si c'était réel ou non.
Bon, pour les news, je crois que vous avez récemment lu une petite interview que Cécile m'a fait passer.
Aujourd'hui j'ai commencé les cours auprès d'une association qui recueille les enfants "des poubelles", ceux qui trainent dans les déchargent publiques pour ramasser des matériaux qu'ils peuvent revendre 3 francs 6 sous par la suite (cannettes, métal, etc...). Certains meurent sous les déchets. De belles blessures sont également à déplorer, de méchantes plaies qui s'infectent. Ces enfants ne sont a priori pas des orphelins, en tout cas ce placement n'est qu'une école, personne n'y dort. Mais curieusement je pense qu'ils sont plus à plaindre que ceux de mon orphelinat du matin... au moins ces derniers sont vraiment pris en charge.
J'ai une seule classe, mais de 40 ou 50 élèves, pendant 2 heures. C'est assez étonnant car il y a une petite fille, dans cette classe, qui écrase la personnalité de tous les autres. J'ai rarement vu cela. Je ne sais pas comment je vais gérer, car elle me défie sans arrêt, ça va être un petit duel que j'ai intérêt à gagner. Intéressant.
Je tenais à remercier ceux qui après la publication de l'interview m'ont adressé un message de soutien sympa. Ça fait plaisir. Continuez à visiter de temps à autres ce site.
Voici quelques photos de mes classes du matin.
Before we arrived in The Philippines we had a an evening in Singapore. I didn't get to see much of it, but what I did see reminded me of Japan the most. We took the train to a central area and saw World's Largest Fountain (Whoooo!) and had some dinner and then back to the airport. The Singapore airport was very impressive.. They have a rooftop pool, movie theatres and massage chairs and beds set up everywhere... and its all FREE!
We flew into Manila and then found our way to a bus station and took the 12 hour (only 360km) drive to Sagada. Sagada is a small town in the Mountain Province of The Philippines, it was a really great spot. The bus ride, even though packed with people in all the seats and up the middle aisle was probably my favorite. The entire ride was on a old road that zig zagged through the rice terrace covered mountains and its villages. Lucky for me.. I was equipped with gravol for the ride, but there were a lot of children experiencing motion sickness... at one time I had 2 young boys beside me throwing up in plastic bags and then throwing them out the window! :S
We spent 3 days here and went hiking through a cave filled with hanging coffins from their tribal ancestors and hiked through the rice terraces to a waterfall. Both were really cool and both were things we hadn't done anywhere else in Asia. It was a pretty quiet place and their weren't a lot of tourists. The town had a 9PM curfew!
We made our back to the Manila airport to fly to Palawan... unfortuately my friend had her bag stolen in the airport when she had fallen asleep and it had her passport in it.. so we spent our next couple of days in and out of the Canadian Embassy in Manila. There isn't a lot to do in Manila.. so it was pretty low key. Manila is actually the only place during my entire trip that I didn't feel safe being alone. We stayed in the same neighbourhood as the Embassy which was dowmtown Manila.. a little pricy, but safe. There were cops and guards inrfront of every building... all with machine guns in their hands. Intimidating.. but very friendly. We were able to spend the weekend in a beach town a couple hours away from Manila where we dove twice. It wasn't the pristine Philippine diving we were hoping for, but we dove a ship wreck which was pretty cool! After a lot of waiting in the embassy lobby over 4 days and many phone calls to Canada, Elyse got a temporary passport just in time to fly out the next morning. To get everything taken care of we had to deal with a lot of people and processes and I must say that were treated extremely well by all the Filippino people and it really made stressful situations pleasant.
I have noticed some similar mannerisms among the countries I visited.. There is a lot of spitting going on.. men, women, children.. always spitting. Its more strange and would be considered poor manners at home than gross.. although it wouldn't be considered rude here. At home when a guy is feeling hot he will take his shirt off to cool down.. men in Asia just fold it half way up to cool their bellies off. There was a guy on the island I was volunteering on in Cambodia that had a shirt that said "no money" on it.. well it was hot out everyday but he was wearing it at night one night and it actually read "no money, no honey" - Kind of had to be there.. but very funny!
I made it back to Canada yesterday and had a lot of airplane time to reflect on my trip. I have seen, eaten, and experienced so many great things in the past 96 days. I learned a lot about the world and myself. I am so thankful that I was fortunate enough to have had such an opportunity with great company the entire way! Sorry Mom, I definitely have the travel bug now..
1. Thailand - I ate curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday.
2. Japan - only marginally beat out by Thailand
4. Cambodia - They had the best fruit!
5. The Philippines - Too much meat... although they had pretty great Mexican food!
1. Railay, Thailand
2. Koh Rong Samleon, Cambodia
3. Tokyo, Japan
1. Subic Bay, The Philippines
2. Phukett, Thailand
3. Koza, Okinawa, Japan
- Don't lose your passport ;)
- In Bali the first sale of the day is considered good luck and vendors or store owners will give a really low price just to make that sale. First thing in the morning is the best time to go shopping!
- Scope out the entire market and stores before you pull the trigger on buying anything. Items are often very common and prices for the same item can vary a lot. (Prices vary a lot with everything from a bottle of beer to a tour with a travel company to fruit to bus ride so always shop around and don't be afraid to barter anything within reason.)
- Don't book a guest house/hostel ahead of time.. often the best places we stayed in were smaller places that weren't on the internet or in our guide book. They are ussually cleaner and cheaper too! (Disclaimer: This might not always be the best plan ie. holidays or really small places, but if you get dropped off in a central location there are ussually tons and tons of options)
- Only pack one or two books and trade them through out your trip. Used bookstores are everywhere.
- Ride bikes! Its cheap, fun, exercise and a great way to see a new place!
AND.. always carry toilet paper! :p
Over the weekend it was the Khemer New Year, a 3 day celebration where they bring in the new year and celebrate everyones birthday. Most people go back to the provinces to visit their families but alot of families come to Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat. I was told that over the 3 days there were around 50,000 Thai people in the city. We went for a drive on Saturday past the temples and there were people everywhere, it was so busy. We then went to visit one of the Pagodas which is where the monks live and people go to celebrate. It was like a carnival, there was lots of food, games, singing and dancing.
Because of the holiday my school has been closed so I've been working at the Home of Joy. Home of Joy is run buy Nun's in the Order of Mother Theresa. There were 16 children there on my first day but 2 babies have come since. The children are all under the age of 5, some have been dropped off for a short period because their parents are sick and can't care for them but will go home soon but some have been abandoned. I was talking to one of the Nun's this morning who said that one of the boys has 5 brothers but his parents thought he ate too much so brought him to the home as they couldn't afford to feed him. They recently stopped coming to see him and when the Nuns went to visit them they found they had moved and not informed anyone where they are going. Most of the babies mothers are working in Thailand and cannot take them with them. While I'm there I help feed the kids, clean and play with kids (or get played on). I really love it there, I only have one more day before I go back to the school so I'm making the most of it.
Other than that I visited Angkor Wat with some other volunteers which was amazing. There are so many temples and you really could spend days exploring it. I'll post some more photos soon
Hope everyone is well x
So I've arrived in Siem Reap. It's hot, dusty and dirty but I love it here. I'm living in an old villa about 10 minutes outside town with 5 other volunteers, we have our own cook and cleaner and I have to say Im pretty impressed with the food.
I started at my placement on Tuesday. I'm teaching English at a kindergarten about 30minutes outside of town. There are 2 teachers there, neither of who speak any English which makes it difficult given that is what they are teaching. The children are between 3-9 years old and have only just started at school in the last month. From what I can gather from other children I have met and talking to the other volunteers, most Cambodian children can speak basic English but the children I teach can barely get through the alphabet. T
They are amazing though, most of them are so happy and eager to learn. I'm the first volunteer they have had there so they started out a little shy but that didn't last too long. My coordinator came to visit the the class today so was able to translate for me. We have 2 'naughty' children in the class who are brother and sister. The teacher was telling me that they spend all night up with their parents collecting bottles from the rubbish around town to sell at the market so they don't get any sleep. All the other children have a level of respect for the teachers but not these 2- they completely ignore everything we say. They were telling me that they are trying not to direct their anger at the parents onto the children but it gets very difficult.
Apparently the children live in a really poor village with houses made of sheets of metal and leaves. They have built on private land and the owner is trying to make them pay rent so every few months he pulls down all their houses. I'm going to visit after my class this afternoon.
Next week is Cambodian New Year. Everyone has 3 days off and there is a big celebration. When I arrived at the school this morning they were having a ceremony with music singing dancing and lots of incense that is supposed to cleanse the bare for the new year.
One of the teachers at my school broke her finger yeaterday so Ive spent the last hour hunting around town for a splint but it doesn't look like I'm going to be able to get one. She went to see a local medicine man yesterday and when I came in today she had some stinky leave mixture plastered all over her hand. I gave her some panadol for the pain but I don't think she has ever had it before.
Thats it so far for me- I'm having an amazing time and learning so much. I'm off to visit the Temples over the weekend which I'm really looking forward to
Trying to play Tunnel Ball
Practicing at break time
The New Year blessing ceremony
I've been slacking with this blog lately I know.. but I have been really busy! But here is what I've been up to in the last 3 weeks...
We started out in Kuta, Bali and spent 4 days there. It was kind of an uneventful few days since Elyse cut her foot decently.. and you don't want to mess around with a foot injury in Asia.. so to entertain myself I did too much shopping.. and some napping. From there we moved onto the Gili Islands, staying on Gili Trawangan. We made good use of our time here, logging a couple dives, surfing and snorkeling. Diving was really exciting since this was the first time I'd dove since Cambodia. All the sea life and corals were a lot different than what I had seen in Cambodia and we saw GIANT sea turtles and a reef shark about the size of me.. (No Manta Rays though :( ). The snorkeling was really great too, there was a reef right off the shore that we could basically just walk out the door of our home stay and swim in. The sea life and corals were as good there as they were when we were diving.. just smaller. Pretty awesome... and FREE!
Surfing was a lot of fun. We had a local give us a lesson and spent our next days out in the water. I'm nothing special.. but I was able to get up and ride some waves enough. I really enjoyed it and it is pretty cheap to surf.. like $3 for a board all day :)
From there I went off on my own for a few days to do a 2 day Trek up to the Crater of Gunung Rinjani. It was the longest climb I have ever done and a definite challenge for myself. I did the trek with 2 young German guys and a guide with 2 porters. The porters were unbelievable! Not only did they carry all our food, water, tents and sleeping bags up the mountain but they did it in flip flops! I actually couldn't believe that they were able to.. and during the busy season they do that a couple times a week. The porters also cooked all our meals for us which was surprisingly delicious considering the circumstances. We spent the night sleeping on the edge of the crater where we saw the most amazing sunset and sunrise. In the morning it was raining, but we still made the 2km rock climb down to the lake and natural hot spring.. well.. its ussually a hot spring but since we are just at the tail end of the rainy season here it was a waterfall. We climbed back up to the top of the crater and then all the way down in the pouring rain. Surprisingly enjoying to descend in the rain.
A day later I met back up with my friends in Ubud, Bali (This is where the Indonesia part in Eat, Pray, Love takes place). It is an artsy little town away from the beaches... I did too much shopping here also. We climbed another Volcano from here called Gunung Batur. We started the hike at 2am and reached the summit by sunrise. Unfortunately it was cloudy so we didn't get the view and sunrise we were hoping for. It was pretty cool to do the climb in the dark with our head lamps though!
From there we moved on to a island in Bali called Nusa Lembongan. We only stayed two nights, but did the best snorkeling I've done yet. We hired a boat to take us out to "drift snorkel" where we basically just got dropped off on a shallow reef about 1km off shore and rode the current for an hour watching all the sea life and coral pass us by. We saw a lot of Unicorn fish and Barracudas which was pretty cool because they were all fairly big since we were so far off shore.
Now I am in Kuta again and we are flying to Manila tomorrow. The Phillipienes is the last leg of my trip and then I will be back in Canada! - I must say that I am looking forward to getting home :)
Some Indonesian thoughts..
1. Indonesia is good for your self esteem! - Every vendor on the street is always telling you how beautiful you are, how nice your smile is and that they love you. Yes, this sales tactic is very transparent (and hardly effective) but it doesn't hurt my ears to hear it!
2. Since we're poor, A/C has not been a feature in any of the rooms we have stayed in, just fans. Which may sound unbearable in 35 degrees, but I think I actually enjoy it better. Well.. at least I havn't gotten the dreaded air conditioning cold.
3. I really appreciate all the travel between destinations. It has been a really great way to see the actual country and all the different landscapes it has to offer. We drive through small villages all the time which is what life is actually like for the majority of the citizens in all the countries I have been in. The disparity between tourist towns like Kuta or Ubud and the actual poverty that exists in Indonesia is shockingly large. But you would never get that impression if you just stayed in cities.
4.In Thailand and Indonesia there is a very large rastafarian culture and as a result there is a lot of reggae bars with live reggae music. I have really started to appreciate this music and will definitely be getting into it more when I get home. We have seen some really great live reggae music and heard some great reggae mainstream covers. These bars crack me up though.. they generally have a huge Bob Marley shrine at the center of them.. He's a god here. Live music has been my favorite simple pleasure here.
5. Its a small world. I have met many Canadians and many Calgarians along the way but when I was in Gili I ran into Tazza McIver. Pretty crazy that our paths crossed when we have both been travelling all over Asia for months.
6. When I did the Rinjani trek I only exchanged smiles and thank-yous with the porters as their English was very limited. But one of the porters (June) had to have had the strongest set of legs i've ever seen and carried a lot more than the other porter. I did the trek with 5 grown men... so I couldn't keep up to them the entire time just because I couldn't climb as fast since my legs are so much smaller. But I was relatively close the entire trek and on the way down June said to me "you very strong girl" - now this is a serious compliment coming from a man we were calling June Norris for the past 2 days!
Just a quick note to let everyone know that I have arrived safe and sound (but extremely tired) in Phnom Phen. I should have done a little more research into the time I came because apparently April is the hottest month of the year- I think I've been throught about 8 bottles of water so far today.
My placement is in Siem Reap, so I have a 6 hour bus ride ahead of me tomorrow. In Phnom Phen there are 6 apparetment buildings full of volunteers but there are only 5 of us in Siem Reap so it will be interesting to see what it's like.
Today I visited the Russian Market and the National and Genocide museums. The Genocide museum was horrific. I've barely scratched the surface but hopefully I'll have the opportunity to come back one weekend and see some more.
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