Tuesday, 27 November 2012

...Cambodia Calling 9 - Corn.

So for the past week I have been obsessed with corn. I want, nay I need, to eat me some corn. I don't know why I just really, really want some.

It started last week when Jenni and I were cycling back from work and we passed a guy selling corn and I was like "Ahhh! Corn!" But I couldn't stop to get the delicious smelling corn because one: I was running late for an English lesson and two: I had no money on me. It sucked. I was so hungry and it smelt so good but I figured that he'd be there tomorrow because you know everyone wants corn, what crazy person doesn't?

The next day arrived and I was armed with some money but he wasn't there. He wasn't there on the way to work and he wasn't there on the way home. Gutted. The next day the same thing happened, this is when the hunt really began, I was so determined to find me a man selling corn that even when I cycled into town I was sure, so sure that I would find someone, but there wasn't anyone! Not one person selling corn! It then became a mission, a need, to hunt down whoever was selling corn and to buy it. All of it. Then consume it, letting the juicy, corny goodness into my soul and nourish me. (It's a wee bit like food porn isn't it? Very sorry...)

I still haven't had any corn. I think it's a conspiracy. Whenever I'm hungry and I'm looking for corn there is no one around, only the pancake guys and the weird snail/cockle men, (but really who wants to eat snails and cockles?) and then when I've given up and decided to eat a proper dinner there they are! (Corn is actually a very healthy dinner.) The bastards! They know I have no space for their delicious corn and they taunt me with it. I'm so angry! I just want some corn! Is that too much to ask? Am I wanting too much? Do they not want my money? WHY WON'T THEY LET ME HAVE ANY?

I feel like this could affect me, you know, deep down, psychologically scared for life. So much so that even when I go home I can't look corn in the eye, it'll be too painful. 

You're probably wondering how I've managed to write a whole blog about corn but if you know me well, you know I like me some corn. At home I eat it out of the tin. Just for a snack you know, it's delicious and nutritious and a lot better then eating a packet of digestive biscuits so WHY WON'T THEY LET ME EAT CORN? I think I may need to take this to the PM. I think I may actually have a problem...I think I should let it go, I probably won't though.

On other non corn related notes I officially have 9 working days left. Huzzah! I also have this whole week off because of the water festival, which is cool, it means I can relax and not have to always be rushing around all sweaty and dishevelled. I can actually cycle for pleasure. It's all very weird and wonderful. I'm actually considering buying a bike when I get home, I really enjoy riding Oliver (hahaha! Riding Oliver, get it? Get it?) and I think I will miss the exercise when I get back. We will see, I don't think London would appreciate my Cambodian style cycling on their streets. It's the only way I know how to cycle now, it's not my fault and it actually makes a lot more sense to weave in and out of the traffic ignoring the toots from the cars and the buses (I'm basically just trying to justify my crazy cycling...)

I also said goodbye to another Thida girl. It's gonna be like this for the next 3 weeks, more and more of us are leaving, it's so sad. So I said goodbye to Phavy and luckily I got to take her to the airport which was so emotional and I really didn't want to say goodbye. (I don't think I can handle anymore goodbyes, it's really taking it's toll on me). However, like I said to her, this isn't goodbye, it's just see you later. The beautiful thing is it's a bond (hopefully) for life. Phavy if you're reading this you cannot escape me. It's too late, I've latched on...I just want to let you all know how amazingly wonderful, caring and dirty minded Phavy is. I don't think anyone has made me laugh that hard in a long time. I'm gonna miss it. Who shall I make dirty jokes with now? Who?! I'm just gonna end up being wildly inappropriate with everyone and that's gonna get me nowhere (Phavy this is technically you're fault), or it may get me somewhere..! Ich liebe dich Phavy. You are my star and I love you to bits.

Right, I need to put some clothes on and go get some lunch; just to clarify I am wearing clothes but I can't go outside in just my pants...Until next time.

Big Ocean crossing love ya'll.

Monday, 19 November 2012

...Cambodia Calling 8 - To Loose a Generation.

So this weekend was a wee bit emotional. Ronny and I popped down to Phnom Penh to drag Phavy back to Siem Reap with us and along the way we decided to pay a visit to the Killing Fields. Now I make it sound like we just popped down for a quick cup of tea and then had a jolly little nose around and then came back home but it wasn't like that. I'm not quite sure what I expected. Neat little rows of graves maybe with little white crosses to mark where the people have been buried? Or maybe just an empty field? I just know that I wasn't prepared for what I found and what I saw. I'm finding it hard to put it down properly in words so excuse me if this comes out a bit jumbled. I've been trying since Saturday to collect my thoughts but they are refusing to rest in the same place as each other.

So where to begin?

It was a lovely day, not too hot and then sun was preparing itself to set (sounds magical doesn't it?) We take a moto to get there and riding a moto in Phnom Penh is a hell of a lot scarier then riding one in Siem Reap, for one there is so much more traffic and for two the people don't really give a shit if they crash into you. This was made all too real when a truck loomed out of nowhere and all I could think of was how to protect my head if I happened to hit the ground. Thankfully it didn't happen but I now know how I will save myself giving the circumstance (dramatic aren't I? I bet most people on a moto are thinking about the breeze in their hair and how wonderfully exhilarating the whole experience is).

So we get there, pay to get in and collect our headsets. There are a few tourists still hanging about and most of them are giggling, which gives the false impression that this is going to be a lovely experience. The first thing I saw was the memorial stupa and to be honest the only reason it caught my eye was because the first two levels (which were completely glass windows) had rows and rows of human skulls, sitting there, staring back at you. It was incredibly haunting. I don't think I can really describe what it looked like and the feeling you get when once you have finished the "tour" and realise where and how the skulls came to be there.

We went on and saw a lot of excavated graves and non excavated graves and specially cordoned off ones for, well, for the truly horrific deaths. I didn't take many pictures, it didn't feel right but I did take a picture of this tree:

Beautiful isn't it? There were so many bracelets on the tree that from far away you would never have any idea about the horror that has been burned into the bark. The board reads : "Killing tree against which executioners beat children".

I think this tree sums it all up for me really. The man directing our audio tour said that the KR had a saying that I can't remember properly but it was something like "pull out the roots from the tree" meaning take care of the children so that they can never exact revenge for what we do to their parents. I can never ever in my wildest nightmares imagine something so horrifying as this. The Cambodian people have lost a whole generation, not just the younger ones that would have been in their early/mid thirties but also their elders. Everyone. Gone. Wiped out for no apparent reason. I've been trying to make sense of this, I've been trying to see if there was at least some pattern, some thought behind any of this and I haven't been able to come up with any answers. I have never felt so sad before. Maybe sad isn't a strong enough word but I really can't think of a better one right now. I have so much more respect and love for Cambodians, to come through so much atrocity and still hold so much love in their heart's for mankind is something truly remarkable. It just goes to show you never know the scares that linger underneath a society until you take a closer look.

I can't say if I am glad or not that I went. All I know is that it was an experience, one that I am still trying to wrap my mind around. I'm not sure I'll ever make sense of it.

Now that I've laid the heavy on you I should let you know that the week before this was better. I was ill, I got better and my kids made me get well cards. They are brilliant. I really adore my children. I was told that I should watch a lot of Mickey Mouse, I'm guessing he can make you better. They also asked Jen (another Thida volunteer that I work with) if I was in the hospital because I was sick. When she said no they then said why not? You should call an ambulance and she should go to the hospital. I think it just goes to show that one, they are actually paying attention in their lessons for the day before Jen taught then all about the hospital and that's where they got the idea from. Two, they do like me! Even if I'm really strict and make them do lots of work, deep down they think I'm a good teacher. It's true! I have written proof of it...

I'm gonna leave it there. My poor brain has gone into overdrive and I need to space out for a while. I have a week off next week because of the Water Festival (even though there isn't going to be a boat race because the country is still mourning the loss of the former King) so I am going to take that time to sleep, eat lots of cake, drink lots of wine and perfect my tan because frankly I'm looking a bit pale...

Big Ocean crossing love ya'll.

Monday, 12 November 2012

...Cambodia Calling 7 - Goodbye's are Never Easy.

As the title suggest this is going to be a merry little slinger. This week has had its middles, lows and very lows. Don't worry folks, it's not that serious and no I won't harm myself.

So I'm sick - again. A round of applause for my immune system it's doing a bang up job of keeping the lurgy away. I only have one question for this defunct body of mine and that is why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Do I not care for you? Love you as if you were my own? Treat you with love, kindness and compassion? I give you food, water, rum, what more do you need?! Please tell me because it seems like I am missing the point that you are trying to make to me. Do you need more rum? Is that the problem? Ok maybe that was more then one question, but once you start asking the ball just keeps rolling. What can I say, I'm a detective, remember?

"Rachel Roots" - that could be the name of my detective agency. It implies hard work, determination and no fear of getting dirty. Like really, really dirty. Prepared to jump into those big rubbish bins just to find evidence and shit. No actually shit but you know if I'm in a rubbish bin the chances are there is going to be some shit. Hopefully it's tied up in a bag. 

Gone off point! As usual, I should stop trying to mould this process and just let you read a random collection of my thoughts. I did that once, it's titled "Consciousness" and you can find it nestled in between the stories on this here blog. (Nothing like a good bit of self promotion eh?)

So I bought these tissues from a random pharmacy and (typically) I was over charged. That's not the worst part, I'm use to being charged double and 9/10 times I argue the point but I was in no position to argue this time. My nose was running and she was clearly in the whole "supply and demand" mindset, so I forked over my dollar for 2 tiny packets of tissues (it's extortion, in the supermarket it's 70 cents...) and they smell like aftershave. Men's aftershave. Now I'm all for a good smelling man but I really don't want to blow my nose with one. It's like my nose has been assaulted by a teenage boy who was giving a bottle of Joop for his birthday and now thinks he's Hugh Hefner. Not cool. (If you weren't following that whole "tissues smelling like aftershave" is the worst part). She's probably been trying to shift them for a year and no Cambodian wants to take them and then I rock up and she's like "bingo!" and thus the tale unfolds and I walk away with my nose smelling like I should be called Jack, sitting in my local, sipping on a WKD cos I think it's cool.

Blew up that point didn't I?

Well I guess that was the low and the middle is to follow.

My back got better (wooooooo!!!!) and then I got sick. End of story. That was the middle, I hope it blew your minds, I know it was super fantastic.

So the very low. *sigh*.

Today I said goodbye to Charlotte and yeah I know it's not like a proper goodbye and it's just an "I'll see you soon." But nevertheless it reduce me to a teary, snotty wreck, standing in the middle of the road, bawling like a baby. I'm just a glass cage of emotion right now. I blame the flu and the looming onset of my period (that always does strange things to my hormonal system). I'm gonna miss her though, I'm gonna miss her so much. It was such a pleasure getting to know her and we had such crazy, fantastic times that will linger in my memory long after the haze of Cambodia dies down. She is a fantastic person. There are no other words to describe her (ok the words insane, bad influence, ginger, amazing and all round brilliant spring to mind but come on now, we will just stick to fantastic).  So before I start snotting all over the place I will just say this: I have learnt here that experiences that are life changing bring you closer together, especially if you are experiencing those things together. It shows people's true colours and brings to light the sides of yourself that you try to hide. Charlotte let all those sides hang loose and never compromised on what she believed in and who she was. That is something truly amazing and shows an incredibly strong sense of character. It is something I am beginning to learn to do for myself, so I say thank you. Thank you for showing me that I do not need to compromise on who I am, your the bees knees innit? I hope she gets home safely and that the cold isn't too much of a shock to the system! Goodbye for now Bad Influence Charlotte, big love you get me? I don't think it helps that I have Avril bloody Lavigne playing round and round in my head. No Avril I don't want to keep hanging on, leave me alone and go bother someone else.

The next one to say goodbye to is Phavy but I'm not thinking about that right now. I have a whole week to prepare myself.

So I'm going to end it there and crawl into the disease hole that is now my room and try sleep off this fever. Finger's crossed I'll feel better come the morning and if not then I'll just chew on a few more paracetamols.

Big Ocean crossing love ya'll!

Friday, 2 November 2012

...Cambodia Calling 6 - Of Mice and Men.

You've probably guessed what this blog is going to about, from the title, well half guessed at least. You're a smart bunch, I'll give you that. I'll start off with the former, the topic being mice.

I think I'm becoming a wee bit obsessed with tracking and killing all mice. Not just the bastard that haunts my house but all mice. Everywhere. Even when I get home I will make it my duty to kill them all. You might think this is a bit extreme but when you are awoken at night by something falling unexplained in your room, then hearing scratching noises and scuttling you begin to imagine brilliant ways in which the mouse, who has interrupted your sleep and left you a present on top of your mosquito net, can be killed. The present on top of my mosquito net freaks me out, it means it left it while I was asleep, which therefore means IT WAS WATCHING ME SLEEP! I may be paranoid but you can't deny I would make one hell of a detective. I could call my detective agency something witty like "Rachel Reaps" or "Righteous Rachel" something along those lines, although the first name sounds more like a prostitutes street name then an upright, legal detective agency. I'll have to have a think and come back with a better name. Anyway I have moved off point, as always.

The mouse struck in the dead of night, scaling the faux marble shelves that are built to house our food and stealing a loaf of bread and scaling back down it, proceeded to eat it in the middle of the t.v room. (Sounds dramatic doesn't it?) But this is the length the little shit will go to eat. It probably gorged itself on bread and then sat on top of my mosquito net, watching me sleep, plotting my doom. I'll catch it and see it's sorted out for once and for all, then leave it somewhere all mice can see as a warning not to enter or the same thing will happen. Like they did to pirates and thieves in times of old.

I think I've gone a little mad and will stop talking about mice just in case some of you get the idea to alert PETA or the RSPCA. I love animals, really I do, mostly cats, but it's just something about these little blighters that makes me so angry! 

So moving swiftly onto the latter part of my subject material. Of men. Not actual men or the Man (he will not be referred to in this blog again (after this reference that is)) no I mean people in general. Like you know how people use the word man to mean the human race, well I'm using it in that sense also. Call it literary license or whatever.

I had to say a final goodbye today to one of the Thida girls, Mirthe. I didn't know her very long, only a few weeks but it was enough to leave a lasting impression - in a good way. She is one of those few people you meet who are genuinely kind hearted, beautiful, crazy, loving, wonderful human beings that I am so happy to have met and have good memories of. Saying goodbye was hard, it was a lot more emotional then I thought it would be, like I knew it would be sad but I didn't bargain for how sad. She is the first person I've had to say goodbye to since I've been here and unfortunately she won't be the last. God only knows how Charlotte's feeling, seeing as they were roommates for a good 2 months and you could see they were like sisters. I'll give her a big fat hug when she comes back from the airport and Phavy too. Mirthe gave me a Baht note (Thai currency) to buy myself a beer once I get to Thailand, I can't remember how much it is and that's not what matters, it's the gesture that's important and it just reinforces how fantastic she is. I said I'd take a picture of me spending it and I will be true to my word. She will be sorely missed.

Apologies fellows for the weird way I may be typing, I just finished reading a book that was based in medieval England and I can't get the way they speak out of my head. It was a good book, it kept me gripped, I read it in 4 days. It wasn't something I'd usually pick up and I feel a wee bit disturbed by it (there was an evil child in it, evil children always give me the creeps) but nonetheless it was a good story.

Lastly I have a new obsession, it's not an expensive one (thank God for that, though the rate I'm going through it, it could bloody well turn out to be) but it is a delicious one.

It's ice tea. I haven't been a fan before but my goodness it is delicious. It's only 50 cents, which is dead cheap considering in some places it's up to 5 dollars. To the left is ice tea number one and below is ice tea number 3. I didn't have time to take a picture of number 2 because I consumed it so quickly. (Don't ask me why the pictures are spaced out the way they are, blogger did it. Call it artistic license.)

Tomorrow we are off on a day trip to the flooded villages and forest, which should be good, I'm quite excited. I'll keep you all updated but for now I'm going to enjoy a nice cold beer and wait for my dinner (we have a cook in the evenings now, with a menu and everything, I'm very excited).

Big Ocean crossing love ya'll.