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Archive for the ‘Cambodia’ Category

Excited!

6 days till my 10th birthday so exciting.  We are having it in pattaya and staying in a very posh hotel.   And there is a water park not very far away and it is 50 baht $1.55 in USD (for kids).

I am listening to the Harry Potters on my ipod and Leah has bought the audiobook of Percy Jackson and the Olympians for us to listen to on the bus to Pattaya.

There are lots of really cool paintings of the Cambodian Gods, some of them have lots of arms and they make statues of them as well.

I am also really excited because in 64 days we are meeting Norah and Papa in London.

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Tonle Sap Lake

Our big adventure this weekend was a trip to Tonle Sap Lake.  This huge lake covers about 4% of the land area of Cambodia, in the wet season the river draining the lake becomes so large it cannot drain into its downstream river and so it reverses flow direction and the lake becomes even more enormous.

35% of Cambodia’s population lives on the lake – that’s about 4 million people – more than live in NZ!  And I mean ON the lake, in floating houses, there is even floating schools.  People get about in little kayak shaped craft, often with a little motor at the back.  We went out in a shallow bottomed boat to take a look at one of the floating communities.  It was frightening and amazing to see so many small children so at home living above 3m deep water – the lake is at it’s shallowest this month, as the rain comes in April, the depth is more like 12m then.  Many buildings that do float were actually sitting on the dry ground as we started out on our trip because this is the dry season.  Further out on the lake, the houses in the floating villages were very like the stilt straw thatch houses we’ve been going past on the way to school each day, predominantly one room dwellings, with pans on hooks on the wall.   It is an unusual contrast to see a family group in such an impoverished dwelling, but with Playstations and cellphones.

Floating House, Tonle Sap

People on the lake make their living fishing and now also from tourism as people come to see their communities.  We were fascinated to see lots of children carrying pythons and even watched a toddler and a child of about four arguing over who should be holding the snake – one holding each end!  Poor snake!  We stopped for a drink at a cafe and saw some crocodiles on the lower deck that were being farmed for skin.

Boy in a basin, Tonle Sap

I was grateful it was the dry season as we made our way onto the lake as the water was very shallow and I felt sure we’d get to the shore easily enough if we came too close to the other, larger craft vying for space in the channel out onto the lake.  I was also relieved to hear that aside from the farmed crocs, there aren’t many in the area of the villages because they don’t like to be too close to people.  Many of the bigger boats got stuck in the mud in the channel and their motors threw mud everywhere as they tried to get out.  It was a bit funny to watch the large 5 star tour groups stuck in the mud, while our cheap wee boat got though just fine!

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We went to a restaurant called Little India and since we went there I’ve wanted to go back every night but mum says we can only go every 2nd night but the good thing is we get to go tonight.  It has the best Indian food in the world but I haven’t been all round the world yet so I might change my mind later.   I like eating Malai Kofta and the garlic naan.  There are two little girls there that Florence likes to play with.

It rained when I was doing my maths today and it isn’t supposed to rain here till the 1st of April, 3 days before my birthday.

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We went to the land mine museum it was so cool it had biographies of war survivors and a fake land mine field.  The founder of the land mine museum and his friends got guns when they were 10.

We now have like 40 movies because mum found a video shop with movies for $2 and a buy 5 get1 free.  The movie we are watching today is tom and jerry it has 80 shows in one and we are watching all of it.  We also got Eragon and Curious George (for Florence).

I have lots of friends at Knar  school because I am teaching there with Leah.

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Cambodia

We woke at 5am on March 13th to catch our bus to Aranya Prathet at the Thai-Cambodian border.  After a hairy taxi ride to the bus station (better to travel in the daytime when the traffic stops the drivers from speeding) we arrived at the huge Mo Chit bus station, where there were only Thai signs directing people to ticket counters.  Luckily they use our numeric system and we knew to aim for number 30 – after checking two floors we eventually found it!

It cost 1000 baht ($30) for all 5 of us to take the first class bus – about 30 yrs old but serviceable.  We travelled out of dark Bangkok (that took about 1.5hrs) and past lots of rice paddies and small towns.  The sun shone red through the smoggy morning.

At the border town a young lad had already loaded our bags onto a trolley by the time we got ourselves off the bus.  We got through Thai exit check points fine.  Then people started hassling us to organise our visas for us for 1000 baht each!  We had been warned about this but and knew that the cost was $20 US for Leah and I and free for the kids.  Still ended up paying an extra 100 baht ($3) to get them to do the visas!  Even the uniformed officials ask for bribes!

We then met our driver to Siem Reap, two hours away.  We had to hand over $15 just to use a non regulation taxi (he was sent by our guest house).  The taxi trip cost $80 – so more than the longer bus ride in Thailand, but in our own minivan with good aircon.

The guesthouse is peaceful (or was till our lot arrived!) and cool with lovely huge beds and the vital air conditioning.  Siem Reap is fascinating, tuktuks and motos everywhere, every possible corner has a street side stall.  We went to the Old Market this morning where we all got something, Leah got some lovely charms for her bracelet, I grabbed some cool cotton tops – I’m over wearing that no wrinkle quick dry stuff in stinky humid weather.  Bede and Emmett got model cyclos (pedal driven people carriers).   The boys also found new release DVDs for $2 each so are watching something they are raving about as we speak!

Tomorrow we start our volunteering in local schools for a couple of hours a day so we’ll let you know how that goes!  We’ll be hunting out the pool really soon – we are HOT.

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