May 26, 2002

Recovering (hopefully)


Well, it's been 3 weeks since the last time I wrote, and I have been sick on and off that entire time. I finally went to the doctor Friday and they found that I have Giardia and a couple of other parasites so I am now taking three different medications and should hopefully be feeling better soon.

The first week after I last wrote I was at the project office in Kompong Thmor, mostly working on figuring out some map creation software. In between I helped some of the staff with some computer questions and projects. For the weekend I decided to go and visit the town of Kompong Cham. Friday afternoon I traveled with one of the ADRA staff members who lives in Kompong Cham, and then found the Adventist school where I stayed. Here in Phnom Penh I had met Peter who is a student missionary from Walla Walla teaching English at the school in Kompong Cham. Since I wasn't feeling all that great I didn't do anything too energetic but did go to vespers on Friday at the local SDA church, and then went to church on Sabbath. The Pakistani treasurer from the Phnom Penh church headquarters office happened to be there so the sermon was even in English. Sabbath afternoon I napped, and then Saturday night I met up with Patrick (the Canadian guy who went to Bokor with me before) and along with Peter we went to "Las Vegas" via the recently completely bridge over the Mekong. Pretty much all of the locals in Kompong Cham consider the bridge to be the main attraction. It is a very nice bridge built by the Japanese and forms part of the overland link between Vietnam and Thailand. The bridge itself has become a sort of hang out spot, but on the other side of the bridge a bunch of restaurants have sprung up with lots of bright lights and live Khmer music. Since there are plenty of bright lights the expats tend to refer to the area as Las Vegas. Anyway, we walked over there and had some supper in a small hut with our own hammock and two different sets of loud music. After that we stopped by the expat hang out area in front of the Mekong Hotel where people like to sit and have a drink (of water of course) by the river. One of the guys there asked me if I had ever heard of a beer borne disease, and then rested his case against drinking waterÂ… We didn't stay there very long.

On Sunday Patrick and I went to see some temple ruins that are from the same period as Angkor Wat. The walls and a few carvings surround a newer, more recently built temple that is in use now. We also visited man hill and woman hill, both of which have temples on top of them. The legend goes that the women wanted to have more rights so the wise queen devised a competition between the men and the women. They would each have one day to build a hill, and whoever had the taller hill at the end of the day would win. At dusk both hills were about the same height, but the men stopped working at dark while the women worked through the night to make their hill taller. According to the story, since the women won the competition the men now have to pay to get a wife rather than the other way around, and women have more rights that they did before. Nearby the hills we also saw a bunker that had been dug by the Japanese during WW2 and one of the killing fields where many Cambodian people were massacred during the Pol Pot years. Our guide told us that there used to be skulls scattered around the place, but now they are in the process of burying them. We did see a few of the skulls lined up inside a building waiting to be covered over in concrete.

I spent the following week in the Phnom Penh office working primarily on the ADRA Cambodia web page. I didn't remake it from scratch, but did do some pretty major updates. I spent the weekend in Phnom Penh as well where all of the school kids sang and played music for church. They had a music festival where the kids from the other Adventist schools come down for a few days and then had a big concert for church. The music director is from Argentina and does a very good job. They even produced a Christmas CD recently, which they sell to help sponsor students who can't afford to pay their school bills. Saturday night was spent playing a board game called Settlers at the Scotts, which is pretty much an ongoing Saturday night activity here for the volunteers and a few others. This time we even made caramel corn using my mom's recipe, which was good.

On Monday after a few hours at the Phnom Penh office, I grabbed a taxi for the 4-5 hour ride to the town of Pursat. ADRA has a couple of projects operating there and they needed some help getting their computers working properly. One nice perk of the trip was that I stayed in a hotel with AC and CNN for the two nights I was there. I didn't really do much in Pursat other than work. They had a virus problem that I was able to fix, and I also helped them get their network and backups organized.

When I got back to work in Phnom Penh on Thursday they were having meetings involving the leaders of all the ADRA projects in Cambodia. Since everyone was here for the meetings I finally met the ADRA staff members that I hadn't met yet. For lunch we all went to a western restaurant that serves things like pizza and pasta and it was very good. Friday I went to the doctor and got some medicine, and then we had a sort of farewell lunch for Mark who is not really leaving. He will actually be moving out of the Phnom Penh office and will now be working full time with the ADRA Projects in Pursat.

On Sabbath I went to church, where the sermon was not translated this week. We did have an English handout to go along with it at least. After church we had potluck which was fun. Saturday night we played Settlers again, and today I haven't done much other than check email and take naps.

This coming week I'm planning to go back to Kompong Thmor where I need to help out with some picture scanning and editing. They are preparing the training materials which will be used to train people in the village, and I don't think anyone has used a scanner much before. Geof left on a two week trip to the US today, so he won't be around here this week or next week.

Anyway, that's pretty much all the news from here.

Talk to you later,


Posted by andrew on May 26, 2002