Cambodia = Kampuchean

Cambodia = Kampuchean

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Water Festival Shenanigans: A Day Trip

Cambodia - the "Kingdom of Wonder" - loves its Water Festival. What other reason could there be for the good and long four-day weekend and the arrival of the masses witnessed by the city of Phnom Penh? Seriously. Millions upon millions of people come flocking over to Phnom Penh to partake in the festivities that constitute the annual "Water Festival".

Here's what makes this festival something to cheer about:
There are two characters in this short story - the Tonle Sap and the Mekong  (tonle pronounced tone-lay means "river"). The two ribbons snake their way southbound and meet in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. After heavy showers a la the monsoon season, Mekong - the mightier, more aggressive and rather well traveled one - gathers up speed and force as it makes its way to the South China Sea (via Vietnam). And since "something's always gotta give," the result is a rather unique phenomenon wherein there is a reversal of Tonle Sap's flow to a northbound course. Rare and quite neat, yes? Well, it appears the historic peoples of Cambodia felt the same way, and thus was born the Water Festival.

 There are stalls and stalls of food and drinks and promotional marketing. There was the feeling of being at the Fair. I think I may have seen a Ferris Wheel out in the horizon.

This is also a time when people enjoy the water games and boat races.

Pedro, Leonard and I headed to Phnom Penh on an 8am bus, arriving at 11am. While Pedro went about his own uncharted plans, Lenny and I took to a nice long walk towards the river and then hung out at a restaurant which was perfectly located for aviewing of the semi-finals of the boat races.

An unfortunate incident involving a sinking boat along the bank of the river! I have to admit, it was a bit comical.  Also, this was a team that had just finished a race, so no real harm done. :)

Lenny and I on a motor (pronouned mo-toe) on our way back to Central Market.

That is where the Sorya Buses leave for various destinations. Mine? Kampong Cham, of course. Usually the ticket costs Riel 15,000 ($3.75) one-way, but during the Water Festical everything is hiked. So I paid a solid Riel 20,000 ($5) for the bus ride.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Urban Wedding

JaNise teaches at a local secondary school here in Kampong Cham. This young woman in her acquaintance at the school invited JaNise to her wedding. JaNise even received a personalized wedding invite - hello! So, the rule, apparently, is that if you receive an invite, you can go ahead and invite other friends as your Plus One or Two or Three..... Or maybe that only applies to barangs (= the word for "french folk" that has come to mean "foreigner"), who knows? :)

Erin, Lauren and I joined JaNise in attendance. [The two ladies are also Peace Corps volunteers in the Kampong Cham province, but only JaNise works in Kampong Cham town within the province.]

JaNise had a few pieces of traditional Kampuchean outfits that we borrowed. You can see me here sporting a typically shiny and incredibly frilly blouse(?) that goes with the pencil skirt that is called a sampot. Of course, as you can see, the one I borrowed from JaNise is a a toned-down everyday-use version of the hello-there-sequin-and-lace-overload which ALL the Kampuchean ladies (and JaNise!) tend to show off at weddings. The more the bling, the more the bang. The wedding hall was filled with glitterings and all - of all shades of the rainbow and of all shapes of people.

 Here are some pictures to tide us over the lack of visuals.

Bride's Outfit #1

Gosh, she's gorgeous, eh?
Bride's Outfit #2

An addition to the Family

I've been in  Cambodia for nearly 2 months now. (Whoa!) About a month and a half ago, I moved into my own apartment here in Kampong Cham. About three weeks later, I was joined by a

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What am I doing here anyway?

Hello there, curious one. I am here to tell you about my work.

I work with the organizations called World Education Inc. and KAPE (Kampuchean Action for Primary Education). KAPE is the local implementer of the projects involved. The "Improved Basic Education in Cambodia Project" (IBECP) is an integrated project involving the two organizations. One of the IBECP initiatives is the IT-integration project. It aims at diversifying the presence of

Siem Reap - Land of the Angkorian Temples

It was early October, and I'd decided, quite spontaneously, what I would be doing with my Pchum Ban (pronounced puh-choom bun) vacation. This is a four-day long weekend (Oct. 7 -10) during which all Cambodians head off to their villages/ native towns to celebrate in memory of their ancestors, leaving all urban areas rather empty and bleak.

Three newly found friends, who are also in Kampong Cham working with Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) had made plans to travel north to the Province of Siem Reap. I found myself jumping on their wagon barely 12 hours before