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3 Dec. Angkor Wat

Tuesday, December 3rd

sunny 34 °C

Early Tuesday morning:

We sat for an early breakfast, as we had arranged to go to Angkor Wat early, not having known that classes would start at 8 for all the days of December. Danielle was chuckling when I came to the table. She had heard people at the next table, a man and two women. One French woman greeted him in French and he responded. She asked if he spoke French and he replied in French "Un Peu", which continued the conversation until he looked bewildered. They all switched to German, which Danielle translated for me. There were a few fumbles, then of course, they all decide to speak English. Boy, am I ever glad that the Americans were so pig-headed about learning any foreign language, and that their economic success has ended in most of the world agreeing that English is the language of communication. If it were not, I wouldn't have this wonderful opportunity in Cambodia.

Our tuk tuk driver arrived at 8:30 - a quiet, cheerful man. We had a refreshing ride of about 5 km out to Angkor Wat. We saw many local people enjoying this world heritage site. Cambodians don't pay - A great idea. Cambodians get to enjoy their own heritage for free. We noticed a couple in traditional wedding garments having pictures taken with Angkor Wat as a backdrop, and we saw plenty of local picnicers. Our entrance fee was $20, high by local standards, but when one sees the restoration (before and after pics) it seems more than reasonable. Danielle was impressed with the efficiency of recieving passes with our photos taken and included on our entrance ticket for all temples in a matter of minutes. We are going to see only a very few of the hundreds of temples in this area: Angkor Wat, Bayon, the Elephant Terrace and Angkor Tom. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Our driver was ready to set off for our adventure with us in the tuk tuk and he on the motorbike.

We skipped the long line of tourists buying 3 day and one week passes. One day is perfect to visit the 4 most exciting sites.

At the beginning of the 9th century AD the two states that covered the territory of modern Cambodia were united by Jayavarman II, who laid the foundations of the Khmer Empire, the major power in south-east Asia for nearly five centuries. The permanent capital of the Khmer Empire, in Cambodia’s northern province of Siem Reap, was given the name Angkor. Angkor extends over approximately 400 square kilometres and consists of scores of temples, hydraulic structures (basins, dykes, reservoirs, canals) as well as communication routes. It is now one of the most important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia.
The accession of Suryavarman II in 1113 began the next great phase of building. It was he who was responsible for the greatest of all Khmer monuments,. Angkor Wat, first a Hindu then subsequently , a Buddhist temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. This is the first temple we are going to visit.

We sit on the bank overlooking the 200 metre wide moat and the west entrance to Angkor Wat.
Unlike most Khmer temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west rather than the east. Some scholars suggest that its alignment was due to its dedication to the Hindu deity, Vishnu, who was associated with the west.

Many tourists. . . . . Tourism provides some of the funds for maintenance—as of 2000 approximately 28% of ticket revenues across the whole Angkor site was spent on the temples—although most work is carried out by foreign government-sponsored teams rather than by the Cambodian authorities.

We approach Angkor Wat Temple. The wide road feels a bit like walking on the Great Wall of China.

The Seven-Headed Nāga serpents depicted as statues on Cambodian temples, such as Angkor Wat, apparently represent the seven races within Nāga society, which has a mythological, or symbolic, association with "the seven colors of the rainbow".

Nāgas are considered nature spirits and the protectors of springs, wells and rivers. They bring rain, and thus fertility, but are also thought to bring disasters such as floods and drought.

Since the 1990s, Angkor Wat has seen continued conservation efforts and a massive increase in tourism. The temple is part of the Angkor World Heritage Site, established in 1992, which has provided some funding and has encouraged the Cambodian government to protect the site.
It is essential to consider that the areas of jungle between the brick and stone monuments constitute a reserve of buried archaeological remains of immense importance in the study and interpretation of Khmer culture.

The scale of these buildings can only be appreciated when one gets up close.

A massive statue of Buddha greets us as we first enter the temple.

Devatas, Hindu deities, and other bas-reliefs decorate the temple.

Danielle poses next to bas-reliefs of men: craftsmen? worshipers?

I've stopped to look at some more stone carvings: soldiers? dancers?

We have passed through the outer part of the temple, and come out onto a stone courtyard.

The building in the centre of the courtyard has many steep steps to its top. Danielle decided to climb to the top to have a look.

The top of the structure is considered the most sacred part of Angkor Wat.

In the most venerated spot is this statue of Buddha, backed by the Seven-Headed Nāga serpents.

Well preserved stone carvings of deities are also in view.

The view from the top. There are a dizzying number of steps to get here.

Meantime, while Danielle is having a chat with Buddha, I am in the courtyard finding other things on the go. These young people are dressed in the costumes of traditional Khmer dancers. In front: peacock dancers. In back: White monkey king, mermaid from the monkey dance, me, apsara dancer, a second apsara dancer and a demon.

When Danielle returns from her visit to the top, we both take this unusual photo op.

As we leave Angkor Wat, we see many of the local people employed in the grounds of this wonderful World Heritage Site

We find our tuk tuk driver, relaxing in the shade and ready to take us on to Bayon, just ten minutes away.

As we approach the entrance gates, we see elephants and their riders in a line approaching the gates.

All the other traffic comes to a stop to allow these fellows through.

The Bayon's most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces (over 200 of them)
on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak

As we left Bayon Temple, Danielle spotted a monkey. She had kept part of a mango and thought it might be just what a momkey would like.

"Please, Sir, May I have some more."

Danielle said that the monkey's hands were just like a baby's - soft and delicate.

Soon, a little baby came out of the bushes to get a little treat.

I believe that if Danielle had had a large purse, she would have taken this little baby home as her own!

  • ************************ We continued on our way to Ta Prohm Temple. ************************************

This is the temple that you may have seen in recent movie. It was the site for the filming of "Tomb Raider" with Angelina Jolie. it was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Buddhist monastery and university in the late 12th century.

There is a wonderful array of corridors and bas-relief on all the walls.

I thought that some of the artwork had eroded due to the elements, but it turns out that the depictions much of the temple's original Buddhist narrative artwork must have been destroyed by Hindu iconoclasts following the death of Jayavarman VII. Here you see an empty border that most likely framed a Buddhist deity.

Large tree roots have overgrown all parts of the temple.

Susan and the Strangler Fig. Laura Croft ran through these doorways in the Hollywood film, but tourists just have to settle for a bit less.

After the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 17th century, the temple of Ta Prohm was abandoned and neglected for centuries. When the effort to conserve and restore the temples of Angkor began in the early 21st century, the École française d'Extrême-Orient decided that Ta Prohm would be left largely as it had been found. Ta Prohm was singled out because it was "one of the most imposing [temples] and the one which had best merged with the jungle, but not yet to the point of becoming a part of it". Much work has been done to stabilize the ruins, to permit access, and to maintain "this condition of apparent neglect."

Restoration of this temple has been extensive. The placard shows the site about ten years ago and its present state of restoration.

You may wish to read about the painstaking extensive work that is still ongoing at Ta Prom.

This is the South wing of the gallery that was shown on the placard, above.
I was amazed by the restoration of this splendid temple. I wondered: Where were my savage ancestors living when this was begun in 1186?

. **************************** The Elephant Terrace ******************************

The Elephant Terrace is part of the walled city of Ta Prohm. This place was used as a ceremonial area, where the king stood on a platform to receive visitors and his victorious returning army. In the courtyard below, elephants were trained. Spectacles were performed here too, with musicians and dancers.

The stone elephants flank the steps of the raised viewing platform.

The Elephant Terrace is part of the temple complex of Ta Prohm. These are some of the elephants that flank the extensive stand that was used by King Jayavarman VII and his entourage to view his returning troops. The story is told by stone carvings on the walls of the stands.

The 350m-long Terrace of Elephants was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king's grand audience hall. These grounds were once trampled by hundreds of royal elephants. The stone carvings on the low walls show elephants and their trainers in daily life, ceremonies and battles.


Enough temples for the day. Many tourists return to watch the sun set over angkor wat. I hear that it is not so peaceful and serene - it becomes a bit crowded. I prefer to watch the sun rise over the meandering river in front of our hotel of watch the red dawn over the treetops of the coconut tree outside the kitchen on the hotel's terrace. Hoards of tourists are not always right.

Our tuk tuk driver had enjoyed a relaxing day and so had we. We found him sitting back and enjoying the shade. We hopped on board and jauntily rode to town. We had chosen to go to Terrasse de Elephants Restaurant for lunch.

  • ******************************* Terrasse de Elephants Hotel - Boutique Hotel and Restaurant *********************************

Terrasse de Elephants Hotel is a rather grand structure with a distinctively colonial atmosphere. Its decor mimics king Jayavarman VII 's Elephant Terrace and the three elephants flanking the platform.

The garden has a 20 foot high statue of an elephant and two riders in a jungle like setting.

Sweeping stairs leading up to a terrace with a view of the city. It made me think of a colonial era with stuffy British accents. We are led to a table where we relax and enjoy the view and a light breeze.

A piece of artwork on the wall is reminiscent of stories of the victorious armies returning to be viewed by king Jayavarman VII

Having started our day at 7 a.m., we had plenty of time to relax in the shade with a cool drink, and to plan the afternoon's classes. Today is an easy day. We did not do the a.m. classes because of our booking for visiting the temples. It means that Danielle and I each had just one class with the older students. I see that Danielle is loving this! The class loves he, and at the end of each class Chen always says "Thank you for teaching us today." Many of the others respectfully say the same. Classes over, so we walked the 7 - 8 minutes to our hotel. We had enough time to catch our breath, as we had booked at "Geneveve's" - The restaurant with the "singing waiter".

  • *********************************************************************************

We had made arrangements for supper, so that we would be visiting my former student Sovy.
The afternoon passed, and as it began to grow dark, Danielle and I headed out for our final full evening together in Siem Reap.
Geneveve's Restaurant is a little gem hidden in Sok San Road in the heart of Siem Reap.

We arrived at the restaurant, Geneveve's. It is down a small alley, behind a building. The approach is well executed: We walked down the tastefully lit corridor and into the intimate setting behind. Sovy greeted us warmly and showed us to our seats. We enjoyed relaxing and taking in the sounds and scents of a smoothly running dining establishment. We ordered drinks and meals, and chatted in the sultry surroundings. The owner Rick, then came to the tables and greeted us. He was happy to hear that I had known Sovy before he came to work at the restaurant. He shared his aspirations for Sovy and for other people he hoped to employ . He saw the restaurant as simply a stepping stone for them, and had hopes that many would go on to realize their dreams. I was delighted to read the back of the menu and see that there were some words about Sovy. I believe that the claim "More than Just a Restaurant" is very true.

All of this, and wonderful food and atmosphere too.

We sipped our drinks. We made plans for Danielle's last day. Our meal arrived - Yummy - Khmer spiced, served with sticky rice. Rick then asked for a moment from every one. He introduced Sovy and said a few complimentary words about him. Then he said that Sovy would sing a Khmer song and then an English one for our enjoyment. Sovy shyly stepped forward, and sang in a lovely tenor voice. He thanked the audience and retired to his other duties. Before we left, I spoke with Sovy and arranged to meet with him at the temple grounds after he finishes his English class with the monks.

I was thrilled to meet Sovy (Chaysovy) again.

Danielle and I had enjoyed another very full and enchanted day in Cambodia.

Time to head out. We ambled along through the night market and onto Pub Street, so Danielle could enjoy her last evening of "Twacking".

Posted by Sue McNicholas 05:21 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

4 Dec. Cambodian Fun and Games!

Wednesday, December 4th

sunny 34 °C

Today was Danielle's last day in Cambodia. She was keen to teach her class from last week and have a chance to say "Au Con!" ("Good bye"). Barbara had been teaching the morning classes this week, but she graciously let Danielle do the first one. Danielle had prepared the lesson, and she had bought some lovely hair barrettes for the girls. I had a few "Angry Birds" things I had brought from home, knowing how popular they were with these kids. The class was at 8:00, so after a quick breakfast we were in the classroom where one of the children counted out " 1, 2, 3 ". Then all together: "Good Morning, Teacher. How are you today?" - - - - - "I am fine, thank you." Danielle then said for them to sit down. The class went just fine doing review of run/running etc. and reading Swiss Family Robinson and identifying new words. Half way through, Danielle said that she had prizes for the kids. Each had a chance to answer, by putting the word on the board. A right answer meant that the child could pick a prize from the little basket, but could then not answer another question. It added an extra element of fun, and too soon all kids had a prize and the class was over. The children were keen to pose for a picture with their teacher.

Danielle's middle class.

After this class, these kids were free and so were we. Before long, a circle of hand holding kids had formed and we found ourselves included in the enjoyable Khmer games. In one, a pair of kids walked around this circle, then slapped a pair of grasped hands, then ran around the circle. The new pair broke away and ran outside the circle in the opposite direction. Both pairs met and wildly swapped partners and ran to return to the open spot. The looser pair had to circle again, continuing the game. The regular teacher Malin was an enthusiastic part of this, as were we and the other volunteers. I did a lot of laughing and sprinting.

This Khmer game is a blindfolded chase. Shaking a bottle of sand attracts the opponent. Have a look at the video clip!

Shrieks and laughs tell the story as Danielle gropes for her student.

This game involves one couple sprinting around the circle and back to the empty spot faster than their rival couple.

"Teacha" Malin claims victory as his team perhaps arrives first.

This game involves speed and cunning. Team members are each given a number. A number is called and that person from each team runs to the middle. A stick in the middle is the prize. Once the stick is grabbed, the stick holder must run back to her side or can be tagged, and loses. Another number called brings reinforcements from both sides. Bluff, speed, feinting all make this a battle of wits.

Two other games followed. Though it was 34 degrees, it was easy to sprint when needed so as to not let the team down. After 2 hours of laughter, the kids were ready to have a breather. So was I.

  • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Danielle had things on our "To Do" list. Having been distracted by a morning of wild fun, we headed for town with only 2 hours till afternoon classes. We had decided to have a facial at our favourite massage boutique. Once again we were pampered. Danielle went for the Deluxe regular package that was an hour of luxury. I was advised to go for the "Deluxe with anti aging treatment" Good idea if it helps! It is so very relaxing lying there, being pampered with steamy cloths, creams and gentle finger tips being drummed on the face and neck. Halfway through, Danielle said plaintively: "Mom, MOM" and I answered, "I'm not asleep!" Danielle's version was: "Zzzzzzzz ….. Zzzzzzzzz ………I'm NOT asleep!" I had asked Danielle to not let me miss any of it. We talked a little (She was actually keeping an eye on me!) Danielle finished up, and left to get a "bubble tea". Anti aging takes longer, so I stayed for another 15 minutes. The total bill for two of us $35. A luxury I will only experience in this part of the world! I thanked the young lady and started to enjoy the delicious feeling of a smoother (? younger) face. Time to dash off for our classes at ACODO.

This is a relaxing treat that lulled me off to dreamland - but just for a few minutes. Silly to miss this luxury!

  • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Danielle told me how much she enjoyed teaching the older kids. They responded so well to her, and this afternoon was another great experience. These kids are serious about learning the intricacies of English. They are respectful, but their sense of humour often comes through in their answers. Danielle's 3 p.m. class finished and she took my 4 p.m. class so that I could meet with Sovy once again. I had arranged to meet him as he finished his English class with the monks. I wanted to know that things are really o.k. with him, and to ask more about other children who had left the orphanage. I did get some answers, but there are still a few more questions. I bid Sovy a warm goodbye and walked back to ACODO. The last class was just finishing, and Danielle was making promises about returning to Cambodia. Soon it was time for goodbyes. I know Danielle will remember today fondly.

The students' sense of humour comes through easily. Their English is very good, but still, they are keen to learn.

  • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was time to head back to our hotel. Danielle had checked out earlier and left her packed bags in my room. We wanted to arrange a tuk tuk to the airport, but Samnang kindly said that he wanted to drive Danielle. - Not your average hotel, is it? We had until 8 p.m. to do last minute things. We changed and then headed into town for supper at a vegetarian restaurant that Danielle had noticed earlier in the week.
We arrived at the restaurant and chatted about our time together in Cambodia and about plans for the next year. We enjoyed a wonderful meal, and a warm evening. We decided to take the scenic route home, and wandered through the marketplace, smelling incense and spicy foods. Pub Street was alive with laughter and eclectic sounds of music.
Sounds of Pub Street drift through the window. Danielle is delighted to find six pages of vegetarian delights.

Our appetizer: Green mango, sweet peppers and cucumber with a HOT green curry dip. Yum!

Streets are getting dark, and it is time to collect suitcases and head to the airport for Danielle's flight to London.

We strolled back the road beside the river to our hotel. There was time to collect Danielle's suitcase and say goodbye to several people she had met during her stay. Samnang took us to his car, and we drove through the darkened streets towards the airport. Danielle warmly thanked Samnang, and we said our goodbyes. I will see Danielle when I arrive in London on Sunday night.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 03:47 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

5 Dec.

Lets Go to the Night Market

Thursday morning: I woke up early. 4 a.m. is a good time to work on my blog! I went for an early breakfast as I wanted to have a look at the computer room before classes started at 8 o'clock. The room is upstairs, just above the boys' dormitory. It is a large room with about 10 computers. Some kids were working on assignments on the computers. Barbara was in the computer room, figuring how she would contribute. She is a computer teacher back in Australia. The kids were happy to show their skills. I chatted to several kids and as it got close to eight, I went to the English class downstairs. I am assisting with the morning classes for the rest of the week and I will be teaching the afternoon classes.
Many of the students are engrossed in computer tasks in this 7 a.m. class.

Sreituth, Samnet, Sreinean and Chana are working together on a word program.

The first class had nearly as many teachers: the Australian family of four, me and Malin. Barbara taught the class while the rest of us worked with individual children. This is quite helpful for the classes of younger kids, as they are on quite different levels. I was able to work with Dimon in one class. He really doesn't read, but he recognizes all the letters and says them. He "reads" aloud with the others - ( only a fraction of a second delay ! ) We went to the empty classroom next door, and made an alphabet of "SOUNDS of the alphabet letters", and chose and wrote a word for each one - with a simple sketch for each word. Dimon did quite well with this. We chose a nicely illustrated early reader's story. Painstakingly, he sounded out each letter of each word of the first two sentences. I kept recapping the words as we got through each sentence. By the end of our private class, Dimon had read two sentences. He seems to be happy with this accomplishment, and I will continue with him tomorrow. Next week Barbara will do a bit of extra work with him, and Malin, his regular Cambodian teacher said that he will see that he works on reading in this way. The second and third classes went well. Again Barbara taught, and we others gave our attention to individual kids.

Lunch break came. It is 4 hours long during the month of December. I enjoyed the luxury of going back to the hotel for an hour long nap. Then I worked on the blog. I am trying to catch up, but as long as things are busy, there is so much to write about. It seems that too soon, my break was over. The short walk back to the school is interesting. Today, there was a wedding party heading that way, to celebrate for the afternoon and then for the next two days. large_IMG_2222.jpg
The music announced this wedding party long before I came across them. They all carried gifts to be used in the upcoming ceremony.

The musicians headed this group - like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. They played traditional classical music, on a "tro u", which is a two-string vertical fiddle with a coconut shell body, with face covered with calfskin or snakeskin.

I headed back to do the two afternoon classes with the older kids. I really enjoy these classes, and the kids certainly make one feel appreciated. There is humour, questions and staying after class to talk and find out if I will be coming to the performance in the evening. Now that Danielle has left, I will be at the evening shows. Today, one of the boys gave me a note from the girl I had hoped to see. She has left ACODO but is in his class at New York International School. She will wait for me tomorrow after her classes finish at 11:30. I am ecstatic!!! He tells me that he will let her know tomorrow. I am not using names because there is some disapproval at the orphanage. I have read between the lines and it is better that I don't say. I think of this girl every time I think of Cambodia. I have a little knotted decoration from her that I always wear on my hat. Her letter to me is really sweet. I can't wait to see her.

I leave for the hotel, but Malin offers me a lift on his motorbike. It is on his way, and I am happy to accept. Just 30 minutes at "home" and I am back at the orphanage. I enjoy seeing the kids. The show starts late and I have a chance to speak to many of them about their dancing. I promise them that I will take some photos for them to bring back before I leave on Saturday. The show is good, as always. There is a fellow from Holland who has been fundraising for the orphanage since 2008. He and 4 other fellows are attending the dance, but they are waited on as they will arrive late. I sit in the sparse audience, and I keep getting little flickers of a smile or a furtive wave. The ASPARA dance is serene, and emotions are not to be shown to the audience. When the dancing finishes an hour later, I say my goodbyes and leave for the walk back.

I walk past my hotel and continue into town - less than 2 k's in all. At last - street food! Danielle didn't go for this culinary treat!!!! There are little fires of hard wood embers burning with fish, chicken and unidentified tasty treats. There is corn on the cob, dumplings stuffed with spicy treats. Waffles, poured thin on a hot pan while you wait, and spread with chocolate or fruit and cream. There are bowls of salad and steamy pungent soups and stews. I choose a barbecued chicken for a buck. It is brushed with spices and put back over the hot coals so that it is piping hot when it is put into a banana leaf and handed over with a small package of hot sauce. I've waited all week - but it is worth the wait. I nibble at the spicy little bones and wander along through the music and the noises on pub street. This really is the life! There is time to sip a beer and to watch the crowds before heading back home.

Ducks and tongue and chicken's feet! What to eat???

Fish and chicken roasting on hot coals. I like the look of a half chicken, and my man obliges, adding a bit more spicy sauce and turning it carefully.

My supper arrives, steaming hot and in a banana leaf. Don't you hate it when it is presented with the chicken foot sticking out?

Chicken in banana leaf for supper.

I have decided to browse the market once again. It is interesting to see the wide assortment and juxtaposition of goods, and one way to spend an hour relaxing before heading back home to the Riverside Hotel.
Little woven baskets and sewn goods.

Such an assortment of fabrics - silk, cotton, bamboo, and of course polyester.

I didn't expect to find Mr Piggy here either - I had wandered over into the food market, which was closing for the night.

Paintings were often displayed, six or eight deep.

A little basket shop with an eclectic collection of merchandise.

On my walk home, I always pass a small workshop where a man makes and sells these shrines.

Posted by Sue McNicholas 09:33 Comments (0)

6 Dec. A special day

Friday, December 6th.

sunny 32 °C

Friday- my last full day in Cambodia.

I wake up so early these days - long before it is light. I work on the computer until I hear the cooks in the kitchen at 5 a.m., then I come and get boiling water for a pot of tea, and work some more. By 7 o'clock I go for breakfast, then I head back to ACODO. The classes are good. I feel that the kids are getting and giving their best. Most are enthusiastic, though one or two are sleepy! When we finish today, I tell them that I have a little prize for each of them. Angry Birds dog tags and armbands, and colourful heart shaped erasers. I read the kids right. The prizes are a hit. Morning classes finish, and it's time for me to head up to New York International School.

It is a brisk 25 minute walk. I arrive just as all of the teens are coming out of the school. Four or five kids recognize me and come over to say "Hi". Most older kids who left ACODO are completing their regular studies here. I am so delighted to see so many of them. Then I spot my dear student. She is standing with two girlfriends, who I also know. We exchange warm hugs. I ask if they can come for an ice cream with me. "Well, first we will have to ask our sponsor." I hadn't thought of that. I am happy with that but there is something else on the go. I am a bit in the dark. Finally, I am invited to their home to see if it is o.k. I ride precariously on the carrier on the back of one bicycle. The other two girls arrive ahead of us. When Chunny and I come in up the steps to the front door, an apprehensive face greets me. "Hey! I know you!" This is someone who I volunteered with in January. No names! I was thrilled to see who was the sponsor for these three beautiful girls. We spent the next two hours catching up on goings on since January, and enjoying a bit of a tranquil home life that is a very new chapter for all five people in this new family. I don't have the words to say how I felt to see this. We've all agreed that I will remain in close touch. Two hours went just too fast. I was dropped back to my hotel by motorbike by the "Dad", who had errands in town. If you see me smiling in the next few weeks, I am perhaps thinking of this wonderful encounter.

Chunny, Sreina, Mey and Sela were all students at ACODO in January, 2013. Here, I have just met them outside New York International School.

Chunny with her little pet kitten.

The afternoon at the orphanage - I said my goodbyes. I really do hate to go. I said that I would be back for the show. I shrugged off the thankyous. Ah, I had found a little gift for every one in these two classes. I searched the internet, but finally found in St. John's, tiny little solar powered flashlights on a key chain. No good for you to look though. I searched everywhere in St. John's and I bought every last one! These kids have keys to their lockers and perhaps to a bicycle lock, so I figured that a flashlight would be useful. I love solar powered stuff, especially in a sunny place1

Malin wanted to know if he could give me a ride to the hotel. Though the walk is not long, the lift is welcome. He said that he has something that he needs to tell me, but that he will say it by email. I am intrigued. He is a good teacher, in that he really gets along well with the kids. He has a great rapport with them. He really has their back. He wants them to learn, and he is really helping them to accomplishes that. I will email him as soon as I get home. I bid a very warm goodbye to him. I do look forward to hearing back from him, and keeping in touch with these wonderful kids.

Back at the hotel - Just time to shower and change into a blue sarong for the evening . I like to dress up for the dancing to show the kids that I consider it to be something special. I saw Khemra behind the desk at the hotel. He said: "Susan, You make me cry, because you go!" We agreed that it would be a good plan to go to the nightclub tonight. He was so forthright --- ah, it turns out that "Aunty" was in Pnom Phen, so there was no fear of her disapproval. Jasmine was also going, and a boy who works in the laundry. I am game!!!!! Sounds like fun. We're going at 10 o'clock.

I was back at the orphanage at 6:30 for the performance. The two little 3 year olds, Panha and Komsot are playing around the stage before the dancing begins. I have a little gift for both of them: little ducks that quack when squeezed. The boys are delighted. Then the music starts and four little "monkeys" scamper onto the stage. Each time, I try to figure out which little boys are the monkey dancers, with their masks. I can sometimes tell by their height or their antics. I enjoy every one of the dances. Tonight I am taking quite a number of pictures. I have promised the kids that I will get pictures developed for them. Soon it is over. I stay for a while and talk to the kids. I take a few more pictures, and tell them that I will see them tomorrow before I leave.

Panha is trying to figure out how his duckling makes the quacking sounds.

Komsot has mastered squeezing the right spot to make his duckling start quacking. He is delighted when that happens.

Back at home I relax and then get ready to go out. Jasmine arrives, looking very pretty. She knocks on my door, then she comes in to talk to me. Sometimes she laughs and sometimes she is a bit hard to understand. We are both in a great mood to go out and enjoy a fun evening. We head downstairs to see if Khemra is ready. He is, and we spill out of the front door like adolescents on the pip. The plan is that we will go to the night club near the new night market. We will only stay till midnight. The boy from the laundry catches up, and we laugh about things as we maneuver the unplaced stones and shadows on the new sidewalk. We arrive at the club and take a table outside. The music is loud and catchy. We order a stein of beer. 'Laundry' keeps the glasses filled. A snack? Sure! I tell Khemra that I will pay, as the price will be pitifully small anyway. We enjoy spicy interesting little plates of food in the dark. We are seriously trying to finish the beer! The music is just too good - my feet are twitching! Khemra is happy to head for the dance floor. The music is hoppin' ! RGB laser and a fog machine...WOW ! The dance floor is crowded. We elbow out a little space and hop to the sound and the strobe lights and dry ice mist. Jasmine and Laundry head out too. The lights and pulsing bodies are surreal. The beat is infectious. Well it is a great evening. We take a break from the dancing and nibble on a bit more mystery snacks. We go for another stein of beer, and another few dances. Finally, we all realized that tomorrow we would all have to be up early. We soon headed back along Sivutha Avenue towards the hotel. We had all had a fine evening, and a musical treat.

The nightclub. No pictures allowed inside - Just the memories of an evening of fun and dancing.
12:00 bed

Posted by Sue McNicholas 16:42 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

7 Dec. Time to say "Leah seun hai" (Goodbye)

sunny 32 °C

I watched the sun come up this morning. This will be my last day in Cambodia.


Today is going to be busy, as my flight is this evening. I woke early and blogged! Tea at 6 and I continued for another hour. At breakfast I chatted to some of the other guests of Riverside Seam Reap. I said goodbye to Jasmine, Eng and Chai. But it was time to get serious about getting everything done. I figured that I would do the most critical things first, and what didn't fit into the day could be skipped.

I organized and packed my belongings. Hotel room cleaned out and all things in my suitcase or given away. I had sent off the flash cards and some other classroom stuff to the other orphanage - (They have a tighter hold on using and keeping track of this kind of stuff), and a fluffy quacking toy for Visilili, Kosa's shy little daughter, and I had tipped the staff that make my time here so really wonderful.

Now it was time to find the optical shop I had checked on the other day. It wasn't far, so I went in and arranged to have an eye exam and order the distance glasses. The sight test was thorough and used the same up to date technology as any optical shop back home. My perscription set, I had only to pick the frames. I found some cute ones, paid a deposit and I went on to poke about in the shops 'till the glasses were ready.

This is the place.... They fulfilled all the promises on their window and delivered to me TWO pairs of top quality distance glasses for $15. 00 each!

Back at the hotel I started searching my pictures for good shots of the kids so that I could copy them. This was time consuning, but al last I had located the ones and put them onto a flash drive . I checked out of my room and put my suitcase and backpack downstairs at the front desk. I paid my bill and Danielle's, then I headed into town to get copies of the photos printed for the kids. I found a custom photo shop and I was treated to a techno-savvy young lady, who removed gleaming eyes and overexposed individuals in one of the shots. She took my order: as many copies of each picture as there are people in the picture. I ended up with 70 pictures, including one of a "pixie" haircut that I would try to have done as soon as I spotted a hairdresser.

These are some of the individual shots I had developed for the children, in addition to the class pictures and a few others.

Chanta and Sriedoeurn are sitting on Chanta's "cart" - a suitcase he has been chasing around with while the doggie and other boys ride on it.

As last evening's dance preparations were ongoing, I promised Sreidoeurn that I would take a picture to give to her.

Sriepech and Sreituch. (I can't name the monkeys)


The white monkey king is appealing to the mermaid queen of the river (Samet).

Sreineang ...notice : s r e i n E a n g, spelled with two E's. This is a dance of welcome. In it flower petals in gold chalices are scattered.

Sreinang (one E) and Hoeury

Sreinang (one E) , an Apsara dancer.


I love visiting these wonderful kids. I enjoy teaching at ACODO orphanage. There have been some changes there in the last year. Many of the older children - 17, 18 and older - have left the orphanage. Some are pursuing jobs, most are continuing their high school studies. Some of the students who have left have sponsors and some do not. Some have returned to their family. I hope to go back again very soon. I will be working at the orphanage once again, but I will also be trying to be in contact with the students who have left. I left ACODO once again, with very good memories of the wonderful people I am getting to know there. Perhaps the short video sums up my feelings about leaving these children. As these graceful Apsara dancers leave the stage, I know that I will see them again very soon.

The last moments of the APSARA dance. (Apsaras are the dancers, whose images were carved in stone on the walls of Angkor Wat and other temples in Siem Reap.)

Well, this voyage to Siem Reap has gone much too fast. I have said my goodbyes to all the children at ACODO and to other people that I have the great fortune to have met here. I walk back to the hotel and I find that Samnang (did I say that this name means "Good Luck") is waiting for me in the lobby. He is ready to take me to the airport in his car. After more goodbyes at the hotel, we pull out into the darkening evening. The ride to the airport is a time to think about a wonderful two weeks, and about a few loose ends. I will have to be back soon!

The info on my ticket says: Flight Duration: 17hr 30min Layover Time: 8hr 25min Total Trip Time: 25hr 55min, and this will only take me to London. I will have plenty of time to relive my little adventure!

. . . . . . . . . Time to fly....

If you want to look at more of the Traditional Khmer dancing at ACODO orphanage, I found a well done video on you tube. Just paste the following link:

Also, I found a site that explains the Traditional Khmer dancing done in Siem Reap. It is worth a look

Posted by Sue McNicholas 10:43 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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