Well guys, I love it. It’s been a little over a week, and my schedule has been jammed pack. I’ve been going to class for about eight hours a day, just like in the good ole days of high school, and we’ve had excursions or activities during the week and weekend.
Highlights of the week:
- Arriving to Phnom Penh and taking a Tuk-Tuk to the hotel. What’s a Tuk-Tuk you ask? See above picture. You can imagine my surprise when the man, who spoke not a single word of English, picked me up from the airport and hauled me, another LC member and our luggage in a small, four-wheeled wooden cart attached to a moto. Fantastic, right? Best intro to Phnom Penh. Ever.
- Later in the week, I was walking back to the hotel that my program is at, when a little girl waved at me. I stopped, waved back and said “Hi! What’s you’re name?” She then stood up a little straighter, got into student mode, and said “Hi. My name is…. And what is your name?” While she was saying this, she grabbed my hand and shook it! This was adorable because here in PP they do not shake hands– it’s a relatively Western gesture. It was precious. Seeing that little girls’ confidence sweep over her when she got to practice her English made me SO excited about teaching. Her parents where standing beside her, grinning hard and proud. I loved it.
- I met a local Cambodian named Dara. He took some of my LC friends out to dinner, and we had a learning about Cambodian culture, butchering some Khmer, and eating Amok. “Oh my Buddha” was the phrase of the night. And Wikipedia was correct in reference to Khmer drinking habits–Casual drinking and not drinking is for noobs. I am a noob.
- We took a trip to Siem Reap where Angkor Wat is. It was extremely exhausting but very cool. It is one of the 7 wonders of the world, and absolutely breath taking to see in real life. My favorite part of the trip was our excursion to Beng Melea, about an hour or two outside of Siem Reap. It was the original Angkor Wat, but the king at the time decided that he wanted it to be bigger, better, and in Siem Reap. This was my favorite because little kids were roaming outside, using the ruins as their playground, and they would take tourists climbing, swinging, and falling through the ruins.
Cambodia is the bomb, and the people are what really makes this place a haven. Cambodia is extremely conducive to foreigners coming in and working here/studying here/doing-whatever-you-want here. Not only that, but the Khmer generally LOVE Westerners. They are some of the friendliest people that I have run across in my (relatively) limited travel. Even their actions in traffic illustrate the calm attitude of the people here. On one of the first days here, the Tuk-Tuk driver was in rush hour traffic. He was inching along, and about ten minutes in, I hear a big “eeeeeyyyyurrr.” Like wood scraping against metal, which was exactly what was happening. The Tuk-Tuk had somehow latched onto the car’s front bumper, and was slowly pulling the bumper off of the car! Neither the Tuk-Tuk driver nor the driver of the car paid it any attention. Rick, the director of our LC group and a guy who has lived in SE Asia for 20+ years said, “Eh. Happens all the time. They don’t care.”
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Khmer people live this mantra.
As for the classes, I’m in love. I don’t remember the last time I was excited about class, but with ESL/TEFL training, I feel like I’ve found my niche. I’m excited, to say the least. Exhausted, but happy, safe, and loving life.