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Day 9 - Pursat to Prahos Kbal

Monday, July 15, 2013


We met for breakfast extra early, 7 am in the dining room of the hotel in Pursat. After having breakfast we went upstairs to get our bags to head back to the village. Anything we didn't need to bring, we left there until we return in four days on Friday. This was also when I finally was sending my postcards out with Leah's kind assistance. She is the Director of HOPE in Pursat, Cambodia and Leah has made us most welcome and most comfortable since arriving in Cambodia. Her thoughtfulness and kindness are abundant.

After we loaded up the van I went with Leah and Kailey to a grocery/drugstore to purchase cookies as I wanted to bring cookies for the children in the village. If I could have, I would have baked for them, you know I would have. Baking 20 dozen or more cookies isn't a big stretch for me. I can do it in one evening and have done so previously. I bought a lot of oreos which come in the original flavour, strawberry and chocolate, also chocolate chip and wafer cookies. Durian flavour. I got talked out of that flavour but it was a thought, albeit brief. I bought 16 packages of cookies plus a tin of snacks and the cost was $53,700 in Khmer money which translated to about $13.45 Canadian. It would have cost double the money back in Vancouver, at least that. It was at this point that Leah bid us a cheery goodbye and that she would see us later.

Back to the van and then we were off on our 1 hour and 20 minute trip back to the village. Smooth flat roads soon led to the bumpy and windy rusty coloured dirt roads. Too hard to really sleep as the bumps were frequent. When we got back to the village we all just wanted to find our kids. Our kids, how is that, after just a short time, only a week in Cambodia and only four days spent in the village and we were all foreever changed by the amazing children here. I was told that the kids would be amazing and they have proved to be nothing but.

After we unloaded our things and got back to our room and put things away, it was back to our familiar routine. Sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses and a hat. A swig of water and a bathroom break and it was time to get started painting. We were going to be painting all the shutters and doors today for the school. A high gloss enamel grey paint. It started out quite enjoyable as we were first at the back of the school enjoying the cool air and being in the shade. We painted for a few hours, backs and fronts of doors as well as the rebars that were installed in each window. The painting was quite enjoyable as there was a comaderie about it. Like sitting around the kitchen table over coffee and cookies. We all talked to each other about different topics. Often times the topics were serious and quite deep. There was a lot of laughter, joking and singing thanks to Kailey who was like having a personal radio. Name the tune and she could sing just about all of them.

Some of us had met in person at the end of March at the HOPE fundraiser held at the Trade and Convention Centre. Two of our team mates we only met in person the day we were flying out from Vancouver. After being together for a week now, there is an intimacy. We have all shared stories of our lives, the tough parts, the struggles, the joy and the happiness. Some pretty heavy conversation with people that we barely knew or had just met a short time ago. We will forever be bound together by this amazing experience. It was chance and fate that brought us all together and we have all learned from each other so far. To call us a team is appropriate as we have each others backs. When someone needs sunscreen there are offers from others, bug spray ditto, need a hair tye, nail clipper, saline solution or hydrocortisone cream, it's all available, and often in my suitcase. I like to travel prepared. You have to when you are out in the middle of nowhere. It's not like you can go to the corner store to get things.

Lunch break of a stir fry of shanghai bok choy, rice and a Vietnamese fish and vegetable soup. Dessert of longan and the most beautiful dragon fruit. The flesh was a bright fuschia. My kind of colours. Even sweeter than the regular dragon fruit. I so want to bring fruit back to Vancouver. Naturally the fruit tastes so much better here as it is just picked. Who knows how long the fruit that we receive in Canada has been in transit. Never the same.

After lunch we went right back to painting and this time at the front of the school. While we painted some of the other workers took down trees, turned over soil and worked on the grounds. Another job we will soon be doing is building a platform around their well (new to the village but not sure how new). A form would be built and then rocks will be added to the dirt and I expect sand before concrete is poured.

The concrete walkway that we had built around the school was completely dry of course as that was a few days ago. We had considered writing our names on it and then didn't. The dogs didn't have any problem with that and they had walked on the cement and so there were quite a few paw prints in different places.

A few hours after lunch I brought out three packages of cookies (the word "cookie" is "nOOm dot" in Khmer) and shared that with the children. Everytime you do something for someone in Cambodia they bow with their hands pressed together in a prayer position. Maybe that is part of why I have always been inextricably drawn to Cambodia. Having practiced yoga for 10 years now, I call it my religion. I do like all that prayer positions that are a part of yoga. It has a calming and peaceful effect on me.

Shortly after this we had a rainstorm and it poured steadily for about 40 minutes or so. Some of the children happily ran into the rain and enjoyed the coolness. After and during a rainstorm the temperature drops substantially and the cooling is most welcome.

We painted for several hours and called it quits around 4 pm. By this time the painting was not quite so much fun and we were tired. Fortunately our first day back in the village was a bearable one.

Us foreigners are called "barangs" by the Cambodians. Today we found out from Rainbow that the word for a turkey in Khmer is literally translated as a "foreign chicken". Funny.

One of the boys, who we later found out was 14 years old kept mimicing my yoga breathing pose where I raise both arms up the the sky, my hand meet above my head and I come down in prayer position. His name is Pierrin (phoenetic) and he kept laughing when he did this.

Later when I was happily trying to get some blogging done one of the little girls kept bringing me pictures that she had drawn of flowers and of women. I broke down, turned of the computer and went out to join them.

I showed the children the pictures I had brought with me. My sons and me at Andrew's birthday. Andrew and Steph, the four nieces, Grouse with Nancy and Tracey, Grouse with friends from the gym and a picture of Grouse which I just explained to the children was Canada. Learned some Khmer words such as sister, mountain, son, niece, aunty and wife. No Khmer word for girlfriend in the dictionary that I had.

Then it was yoga time. Just had to as Pierrin was still giggling and mimicing my yoga. We did several poses and at one point Pierrin laughed out loud and exclaimed "Oh My God". We burst out laughing as he obviously knew when to say this. Too funny.

One of the team brought up the starfish pose (not a pose we do in yoga) and we laughed and passed on that one.

After the yoga poses came some bootcamp, jumping jacks, burpees and aerobics courtesy of Linda.

When we got hot and sweaty enough we quit and soon enough it was dinner time. After a dinner of vegetables, fried chicken, rice and lots of fruit, chocolate chip cookies, it was time for bed. Another day is done.

Posted by Sydney324 10:52 Archived in Cambodia Tagged children cambodia volunteer hope pursat prahos kbal

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