April 7, 2002

Hot Sunday


It is Sunday afternoon here in Phnom Penh and as usual it is hot and
humid. Yesterday evening it got a bit dark and cloudy as if it was going
to rain, but I don't think there was any actual precipitation. So far
this weekend has been pretty uneventful. The highlight of the morning was
playing some table tennis here at the office with Wesley. Last night we
watched a movie that was on TV in the Reimann's house. They have cable
with several English movie and news channels. Frank (the country
director) left Friday on a trip to Europe and I'm not sure how long he
will be gone. Sabbath morning I went to church where the sermon was given
by the local pastor with no English translation. He did hand out English
sermon notes to the expats so that we would have some idea of what he was
talking about. After the main service the expats and a few local people
have an English Sabbath School class where they sing some songs and then
discuss the weekly adult quarterly lesson. After church they have an
expat potluck every other week and this week it was held at the Reimann's
house. We had lots of good food and visited a while with many of the
other expats. I talked to some of the Adventist Frontier Missions people
who are getting ready to go to a remote village to live. They have got a
house picked out and everything, and are in the process of moving. For
potluck the volunteers, led by Wesley, made Samosas which is basically an
Indian food with vegetables inside a pouch of dough kind of like pie
crust. The whole thing is fried after the pouch is made and filled with
vegetables. They turned out really good and even the leftovers are gone
by now.

On Friday we only have a one hour lunch break instead of the usual two
hour break, but the office closes at 3 pm instead of the usual 5 pm.
Since we got out a bit early I decided to try to get a haircut after work.
I rode one of the motorbikes in to town and eventually found a little
barber shop with no English signs. There were several people getting
haircuts in it already though so I knew it was the right place. I went in
and sat down, and the first thing they did was powder my neck. I guess
they do it so that the hair doesn't stick to you as much since everyone is
sweaty. The guy who cut my hair took quite a while, but did a good job.
He didn't have electric trimmers, but he did have some hand operated
trimmers as well as the scissors. At the end he asked if I wanted a
shave, but I declined for this time. Also, right at the end of the
haircut he sort of pounded the back of my neck and then rubbed my
shoulders for about 5 seconds as the finishing touch. I'm pretty sure I
got overcharged a bit, but the 75 cents was still manageable. On the way
back I stopped and got some fruit and bread for the weekend. They have
really nice Asian pears right now and I also got some dragonfruit and more
bananas for smoothies. One of these days I'll take some pictures of the
dragon fruit as it is quite interesting. The inside is white with black
seeds and has a similar texture to kiwi. Outside it is pink with green
sort of leafy scales on it. Friday night I started sharing my bathroom
with a lady who is here for a visit. She is from Australia but lived here
in Cambodia for 8 years starting about 10 years ago. She said that when
she first came here with her husband (who was the ADRA director) there
were no church members, and now at church she recognized many of her
neighbors and friends who used to be Buddhists.

On Wednesday I went to a local Indian restaurant with Wes where we paid $2
each for all you can eat rice, dahl and vegetable curry. They also had
salad and we could watch CNN in English while eating. On our way back
from the restaurant we stopped at a supermarket to get some groceries.
They also had a little caf where I was able to get a soft serve ice cream
cone for 50 cents which was very refreshing.

Last Sunday I went to the central market and managed to find a transformer
so that I can plug in my cd/mp3 player here. I also found the Lonely
Planet Cambodia guidebook for $2. It costs $15 in the US or $25 in the
Bangkok airport but the version I got is a photocopied edition that is
very usable. It doesn't have color on the inside pictures, although the
cover is full color and glossy. I also got some food and looked at a few
other electronics items. One lady really wanted to sell me a hammock for
something like $3 and followed me around the market for a good 10 minutes
trying to make a sale.

This coming Tuesday I will be traveling to Kompong Thom province (about 2
hours away on a good road) where I will be spending at least 50% of my
time. It turns out the Child Survival project there, which is funded by
USAID, is paying my stipend. I will be there a large portion of the time
for at least the first several months. The project director is a
non-Adventist Australian guy who has lived here in Cambodia for 5 years
but just started working with ADRA in October. He is quite a character.
He brought a sea kayak with him from Australia which he uses on the local
river near the project office. He also apparently hosts a radio show on
Sundays on the only English radio station here in Phnom Penh. Out at the
project they do get email using a cell phone hooked up to a computer, but
I don't think they have any regular Internet access as there are no land
lines. We'll see, but I'll probably be pretty much out of touch at least
for this first trip up there. I'm coming back here to the capitol no
later that Friday so will be here again for the weekend. I think my main
job at the project will probably be to train the staff to use computers,
and I may be teaching some of them English as well. I'm sure I'll find
out more about it this week when I am up there.

Starting on this coming Friday the ADRA office will be closed for an
entire week to celebrate the Khmer New Year. I'm thinking about doing
some traveling, but I'm not sure yet since my passport is currently with a
government office getting a visa extension. If I don't have my passport
in time I will probably just travel within the country instead of trying
to go to Vietnam, Laos, and/or Thailand. We'll see what happens.

Anyway, that's pretty much all that's going on with me. I'll talk to you


Posted by andrew on April 7, 2002