Saturday, December 18, 2010

Street tales from Bangkok, and what we're up to in Cambodia

plastic wrapped Buddha images
 due to restoration work
Ok, I have learned. Never leave the accommodation without the camera! Surprises at every corner. Our third and last night in Bangkok we had dinner at a Thai place down the road. Tom ordered the special beverage and it came with a straw in it that was as long as his arm, but not as hairy. Eli had coconut juice, served in a bowling ball size coconut, and made the observation that a little coconut juice goes a long way. Mel had a 'cherry temple' which she proclaimed to be the most boring drink of all. I had a colorful apricot number adorned with an unripe banana.

This alleyway is deserted compared to most
After visiting just a hundred or so Buddha images, including a solid gold fellow weighing over 5 tonnes, we paid a taxi driver 100 baht (three dollars) to endure an hour of traffic to get  us to Chinatown.Visual, olfactory and auditory entertainment in the first degree was awaiting us along with mid day heat and humidity.These tightly packed alleyways were a hub of all things useful and useless. We wound our way into the inner lane ways momentarily thinking we were escaping motorized traffic, only to come across someone on a motorcycle  squeezing through the slowly moving humans.  Booth after booth sold watches, chandeliers, hub caps, skinned whole chickens, dried squid, herbs, washing machines, hello kitty etc, beads, hair ribbons, flower seeds... also in this labyrinth someone was making their way through with a dozen bolts of colorful fabric piled high behind the seat, and a child on the handlebars accompanied him.

The kids think the street scene is cool. After a couple of hours at the market  we were exhausted and hungry, so we quickly grabbed  the inches of space available at a eating establishment,  made it into four spots, and supped on delicious noodle soup. Mel found some nifty little earrings for 18 cents. Luckily we didn't lose track of each other as the squash of humanity seemed capable of swallowing us.

Eli and hammer are one
Onto Siem Reap, Cambodia for our volunteer placement. I can't really describe it accurately in a few sentences, but we are diggin' it. There is a python in a cage under our room that was being fed a live chicken just as we arrived, and the shower scenery overhead is bamboo. Real plants,  not pictures of bamboo.  The khmer people are beautiful, friendly, and small. Melissa is towering over most of the teenage kids and even some of the adults. We have now spent two days at the project, which is a small  rural village about 45 minutes away in a tuk-tuk from the volunteer H.Q. Several Gen X ers are here as well, implementing the current programs which include house building, installing water pumps, and providing play based English lessons for the children and teens. The largest project, however, is building sanitation units, which are small outhouse type brick and thatched structures containing a compost toilet and private area to bathe, a novelty for this village before vMAD arrived on the scene earlier this year.

traditional Cambodian house, the roofed
area on the side is for the kitchen
teacher Melissa
We were prepared for massive begging and limbless individuals but happily that isn't what we've encountered. The tragic history of the country is undeniable but the smiling faces don't let it on. Bicycles, motorcycles, rice paddies, water buffaloes, anorexic cows,bicycles, and HUGE hotels for the thousands of Koreans who come here are the most common sightings so far. We're going back to the night market again tonight and hope to see some traditional dancing, and find some toys to take to the village tomorrow. Today we took hacky-sack like plastic gizmos which were a big hit. Mel and I are spending our time doing the hokey pokey, and singing 'wheels on the bus' along with other preschool type activities. The kids are keen learners and eager to practice their limited English skills. Eli and Tom have been busy doing man things with hammers.

That's all for now, back atcha in a week or so.........

1 comment:

  1. Great photos of the kids at work.
    A world away- rain and Christmas time here. Hello to all.