Sunday, 7 October 2012

...Cambodia Calling 3

As of this Monday it will be 3 weeks since I boarded the plane in London Gatwick and landed, exhausted, jet lagged and a little homesick in Cambodia. The time has flown! I didn't even realise it had been so long. Next week the first of the new volunteers arrives (Hi Jasmine) and then from there on they slowly filter into our compound and I am no longer a newbie. It's so weird but at the same time extremely exciting. It will be fun to show them around and let them know what's best for mossie bites (it's tiger balm) and to always, always haggle in the market. I just hope the next 2 and a bit months hold as much fun, excitement and new opportunities as the past few weeks have. 

Right now however I am watching a Cambodian film about, well, I have no idea what it's about but the acting is so over exaggerated it's really helping me follow the plot. It also helps that the film is quite funny too! 

Anyway I shall tell you most of what has happened to me over the past week-ish, starting with today. Mainly because I haven't laughed this much in a very long time and I just wish me or Ronny (Veronika) had bought our cameras because it was a sight to behold. Picture this, Ronny and I are making our way through the old market (the old market is packed with clothes, jewellery, souvenirs, food (the meat I wouldn't touch with a barge pole, I'll put a picture up so you know what I mean) and more clothes!) we finally come to the stinky bit, which is the fish and meat stalls and I literally have to hold my breath because even when you breathe through your mouth you can taste it. It is humid and the air is pungent. It is by far one of the worst things I have ever smelt, including Tooting Market's fish stalls on a hot day. Anyway, we finally come to the unofficial "Cambodain side" of the market, which basically consists of lots of jeans and t-shirts, pretty dresses, make up stands, hairdressers and food. So I begin rummaging through the stacks of shorts looking for a pair of long shorts I can buy cheaply, I can't find what I'm looking for so the woman who owns the stall comes over and asks me what I want, I tell her, then she says no she doesn't have any and what is my size. So I say roughly a 29-30 and she laughs, touching my waist and shaking her head she says "No! You need the big size!" I was horrified but I began to laugh and said to her "I'm not that big! I've got hips!" She then shoves me to the stall at the end, shouting at the woman in Khmer what it is I'm looking for and presumably also tells her what size she thinks I am, for when we reach the woman she's already laughing. I hold up a pair of shorts and she says "No! You need the big size!" At this point I am determined to get into a pair of 29 inch shorts that she holds before me, shaking her head and laughing she tells me I can try it on so I look around and wonder where the hell am I supposed to try anything on in the middle of a market? I'm standing on the "pathway" and to my right is the fresh fruit and veg stalls and to my left is a hysterical Ronny and the rest of the giggling ladies and their stalls. So this lady rummages around her stall and produces a skirt which she tells me to put on. I gather that I am supposed to put this skirt on over my trousers to take my trousers off and then put on the shorts. As I pull the skirt on I'm laughing so hard I feel like I might wet myself but I am determined to get the shorts on and for them to fit. The shorts didn't fit, I did get them halfway up my thighs though and the whole experience was hilarious and I now know that yes I am too fat for Cambodia! The women here are so tiny that a 29 there size is like a size 6 Western size. I did end up buying a pair of "Abercrombie and Fitch" men's shorts which are uber comfy and a steal at 6 dollars. God knows if they are real or not but I don't care. One woman tried to sell me a pair of "Burrberi" shorts, I don't know who "Burrberi" is but he might want to take his name off their products. She wanted 18 dollars for them and I refused to pay anymore then 6, she finally came down to 7 but her attitude sucked and she kept grabbing at my arm and pulling me back every time I tried to walk away which I did not like so I didn't buy them. She muttered something in Khmer behind my back but oh well, who gives a fuck? I don't! Other then that today has been a load of fun, I've laughed, gotten undressed in the middle of a market and also got soaked by the rain but it is the rainy season so I will let that one pass. 

This is from the New Market but all the meat is left out like this in all the markets!

So I went to the pool yesterday and Ronny and Lucia tried to help me re-learn how to swim. It turns out it is a lot harder to do sans goggles so I may have to buy a pair. I have however perfected my own technique of swimming on my back, it's quite relaxing and I moved so that's all that counts. The chlorine in the water is also very good for the old mossie bites. 

Work is going well my boss lives in her own world but I think that is something I will have to get used to or ignore completely. The children are lovely and fascinated by everything around them. It is a lot of hard work though, I ramble at them in English and they ramble back in Khmer and neither of us understands each other so I end up nodding and smiling and they frown at me and walk away. It's a good system most of the time. I have learnt the word for toilet in Khmer because it comes in handy! So at least I know when they need to go. The six year olds I teach in the afternoon are great. Some of them are super bright and have a very good grasp of the English language and some of them do not. It's a mixed bag of nuts I guess like any class. 

Most of this week I have been working hard and coming home exhausted and ready for bed. On Wednesday we went and did a pub quiz and if you loose you have to do a garlic shot. I was convinced we had lost seeing as most of us didn't know the answers to half of the questions but surprisingly someone did far worse then we did and we didn't loose! Yippee! Then last night it was karaoke night which was really fun and I got up and sang 3 songs. I was dead nervous doing the first one but then I thought fuck it, no-one here really knows me so I don't care what they think, I'm singing for myself and for the lovely group of girls I have cheering me on and you know what? That made it a hell of a lot more fun then taking it seriously and caring what other people thought. It is only karaoke for fucks sake! 

So next Saturday me and the girls (and a girl from work) head off on our holiday to Sihanoukville. I am very excited and the only reason we are going is because it is the Ancestor festival anyway so the kids won't turn up and I might as well enjoy the beach. I'll let you know how it goes but for now my cyber friends (and family) I will be saying adieu. The mossies are trying to eat me so I need to sit under my net. 

Big Ocean crossing love ya'll!

P.S so far it is Mossies 30, Rachel 6. I will kill them all. Just give me time.

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