April 28, 2002

Good Morning

Good morning!

This week has not been nearly as eventful for me so this email will probably be quite a bit shorter. During the week that most of us had time off, Geof, who is my supervisor at the project in Kompong Thom province, was working on a big project for USAID. The main result of this that affected me was that Geof took a few days to recover this week so I ended up staying here in the Phnom Penh office until Thursday. I mostly worked on making an HR database using Access and did some computer troubleshooting. I also took a trip in to town to buy some computer supplies. The store we usually buy from has pretty much anything you could want, although some of the prices are a bit high. Imported hardware can be a bit more expensive than in the states, although some things are still cheaper if they are made in this part of the world. Most prices are open to bargaining as well. In the evenings we weren't able to play any table tennis because they are doing a construction project in the room where the table is normally set up, although we did play some computer games. For lunch on Wednesday Wesley and I went to a restaurant run by Germans where we got and split a pizza and a dish of spinach filled ravioli. Both were very good, but a bit pricey compared to local food.

Thursday Wesley and I went over to Geof's house in the morning where our taxi was supposed to pick us up. The taxi didn't show up so Geof went down to the central market area where all the taxis are and got another one. By the time we got up to the project it was around noon. Geof was anxious for his daily snooze and went to sleep, while Wesley and I went to a local restaurant where I managed to order vegetables with rice. It was probably just a bit overpriced for here at 75 cents, but the portions were fairly large. We actually ended up sharing a table with a couple of the project staff members who also happened to be eating there. After lunch I did some work on the computers, and eventually managed to get the Khmer fonts working. I also discussed some longer term goals with Geof. For supper Wesley and I went out and bought some rambutans, mangos and a couple of other types of fruit.

Friday morning I worked in the office some more, and then we had a good lunch of rice with tofu and cooked greens. It was prepared by the helper at Geof's house. It looks like Geof and I will each be putting in 15,000 Riel per week (5 days) for the helper to buy food. She will be cooking lunches and probably getting some fruit for supper as well. For breakfast we will have powdered milk and cereal (brought from Phnom Penh, or in my case from California) most of the time I think. 15,000 Riel is equivalent to about $3.75 US. ADRA is paying for my lodging and utility costs both when I am here in Phnom Penh and at the project. They are also paying the $3 taxi fare each way between the project and Phnom Penh each week. This is quite helpful since my stipend is actually less than what most of the local project staff get paid. After lunch we caught a taxi back to Phnom Penh where I took Wes down to the motorbike rental place. The main office here is taking Monday and Tuesday off so he went to the beach for the long weekend. At the project they have rearranged all of the holidays into 5 day blocks to that we will get a full week later instead of a long weekend now. After I dropped off Wes I did some shopping at the Central Market. I got some mangosteens, which seem to be coming in to season since the price is dropping, and some watermelon. I also found 3 shirts for $2 each and a pair of Mossimo khaki pants for $3. I'm still working out the details, but I'll probably keep some clothes at the project, and others here in Phnom Penh so that I don't have to haul them back and forth. Friday night we all had haystacks together with the Reimanns and then visited a while. We also had German chocolates that Frank brought back from Germany on his last trip.

Sabbath after church I took a nap and then at night we went over to one of the missionary houses (the home of Tim and Faye Scott from the US) and played a game called Settlers which is a strategy board game kind of like Risk. It's mostly a game of chance I guess, but there is some strategy involved. It's also a bit like monopoly. For the first game I learned how to play, and I won the second game although it was very close. We also had watermelon, popcorn, lemonade and some Oreo cookies as snacks.

Today I am planning to go back up to the project with Geof. James and Sam rented dirt bikes today and are planning to do at least part of the trip I did over the New Year holidays.

This week I will probably stay at the project until at least Thursday, maybe Friday. I haven't been able to upload pictures yet, but hope to do it next weekend.

That's pretty much the news from here. Have a good week!


Posted by andrew on April 28, 2002