Saturday, December 31, 2005

Construction phase 1

The first day was horrendously long and "shiong"; endless trips of transporting soil from the pit to the "tortise house". the pit was incredibly big and many of us wonder what is the school gonna do with it. Students, driver, teachers and directors join the team (took over from us in fact) on building the computer centre and library. Full marks for community spirit!
Days went by and the job got easier. A beautiful young lady named Surnya is teased by her girlfriends to be my secret admirer and the team put her as the president of "KFC" (thanks yongtai).

the village reminded me of Singapore 30-40 years ago, the activities and sights that Dad reminds all the time. despite the muddy roads and filmsy houses, temples remain awesome; landscaping effort of super high standards. Look across the plains, and you can see nothing but tall temples in perhaps 10km away?

life now is like : construction - lunch - construction - games with kids - bridge and daidee - sleep. and the kids are coming every night!

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The kids' favourite hit!

Take me to your heart
Hiding form the rain and snow
Trying to forget but I won't let go,
Looking at a crowded street,
Listening to my own heartbeat...

So many people all around the world
Tell me where do I find someone like you girl...

Take me to your heart, take me to your soul,
Give me your hand before I'm old,
Show me what love is - haven't got a clue,
Show me that wonders can be true,
They say nothing last forever,
We're only here today,
Love is now or never,
Bring me far away...

Take me to your heart, take me to your soul,
Give me your hand and hold me,
Show me what love is - be my guiding star,
It's easy - take me to your heart...

Standing on a mountain high,
Looking at the moon through a clear bluesky,
I should go and see some friends,
But they don't really comprehend...

Don't need too much talking without saying anything.
All I need is someone who makes me wanna sing...


Friday, December 30, 2005

Koh Krobei

Journey to the Koh Krobei (pronounce: ko-crock-bay) Village was definitely an unsmooth one. what a start! the road condition was challenging for vehicle of all sorts, and worse for bigger ones! also nightmare for drivers (and also passengers) if the vehicle were to be stucked in mud. it could just take from phnom penh to koh krobei, but it took more than an hour.

i feel that such condition makes it hazardous to travel at night, and also the breeding of mozzies (especially aedes mosquitoes) or any sorts of insects. I feel sorry that the villagers are highly susceptible to such risks, and this is one downside of the quality of life here. old people were seldom seen in the village and this says a lot. I would presume that mortality rates are high, according to the high no. of deaths in the kids' families. even in such a peaceful, stressless village, Death is always lurking around, ready to pounce.

halfway through the village, a few old men gathered collecting donations for road repairing. Thearith donated. community spirit is evident, (more true in the next few days) but how come the synergy does not bring much development? development in the sense of improving life, having proper housing for all, cheaper education etc. there are a lot more to be done, have they identified these issues? Amanda brought up the development might not necessary be good, i'm not very sure whether to agree. but the mission here is to bring development of some sorts. will development bring about dissatisfaction?

anyway, arrival at the house (one of the best houses in the village, we are indeed privileged), and the children arrive very soon. first two are nikun and ngwen nhong, the duo could speak really good english in comparison to many villagers. i knew nikun would be the pride and future of the village, and i hope he succeeds.

the building structure of the library was already up and work gonna start on the next day.
meanwhile, other than entertaining the kids, daidee and bridge clubs were formed. some photos on first few days.

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Top (L-R): cute lil gal and bro who seldom appear | teeka, my favourite naughty boy | chantaria and his baby sister | nikun and chantria

Center (L-R): the village boys | shy boys | the gang

Bottom (L-R) : the high school | library skeleton | banana lady at russian market


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Arriving in Phnom Penh

first impression, "Orderliness in a chaotic world".
i'm not so sure why were there policemen stationed every 20m apart, but traffic lights are extremely scarce for a capital. However, it's not really necessary to have them around too because they are seldom followed. the countdown counter beside the traffic lights can be "demoralising" for motorists. do not be fooled by zebra crossings at junctions because they are invisible to drivers. there are no public transport in Phnom Penh by the way.

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View from SilkAir Mi622

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Central Market, the iconic building of Phnom Penh

a Singaporean driver or pedestrain would probably freak out should they drive or cross the road, the locals however function perfectly in this system. surprisingly, there's no jams nor accident of any sort. they journey from phnom penh airport to the city centre was smooth and fast. not forgetting that our driver made a flexible turn in the middle of the street. Flexibility is the key to survival in Cambodia too. most people around are tolerant and patient.

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view from the hotel

Tuol Sleng Genocide Musuem features the tragic past of Cambodia in recent history. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge should be familiar to most of us, but the visit to the musuem itself allowed us to "kinda visualise" the brutality to the prisoners. Horrifying as usual, unique in the sense that victims were actually fellow countrymen.

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Amanda exasperated!

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bed for tortures

Bought a pirated version of Lonely Planet Cambodia at a real bargain of 4 USD (soon to be regretted) outside the musueum and almost missed the bus.

Pubbing in the evening kind of pulled the team closer and the overplayed TOD game reveal some secrets of many people.

- Kelvin