blood. money. and blood money (not really).

a few weeks ago while in phnom penh, i happened across an article talking about a man who has devoted his life to trying to help save cambodian children’s lives. through the article, i found out that every saturday, this man performs a concert, under the stage name “beatacello,” where he provides information on medical statistics in cambodia, and asks for money or blood donations to help keep the hospitals running, and blood available for those who need it.

(there is a chance i might get carried away here as i tend to do sometimes when i feel strongly about something.
i’ll try to be concise, but i’m not promising anything :))

in 1975 (during the war) this man, dr. beat richner (a perfect name for a cellist and doctor, wouldn’t you say? :)), came to cambodia with the red cross and has since spent his life trying to raise the money necessary to build hospitals for cambodian children throughout the country. since 1991, he has been able to help open 5 hospitals and a maternity ward in cambodia — all of which offer free services for their patients. during the concert, he spoke on some of the issues listed below….
* approximately 34% of Cambodians survive on less than $1US/day
* of a population of 13 million, nearly half are under the age of 15
* 51% of cambodian children are malnourished
* 1 in 7 children die before their fifth birthday – largely due to preventable causes
* the HIV infection rate in cambodia is the highest in SE Asia

beat was determined to provide every child who needed it access to full medical treatment, unhampered by corruption — a daunting task, but one he felt was achievable by offering fair wages to the entire staff… down to the people who clean the floors –something that does not happen here.* each year 75,000 children are hospitalized (average stay: 5 days)
* 800,000 ill children receive treatment in the outpatients department
* 400,000 healthy children get vaccinated
* 16,000 surgical operations are executed
* 12,000 birth in the maternity (designed to prevent mother-to-child AIDS and TB transmission)
* and 3,000 families daily receive health care education

ALL because of these hospitals.
amazing, right? and as i mentioned before, all medical services are free of charge since the families in Cambodia are simply too poor to even make a small contribution towards these medical costs.


without Kantha Bopha, 3,200 additional children would die in Cambodia every MONTH.


we walked away, knowing full well we were unfortunately not in a position to help financially, but that we could give blood.

so we did.

this was cool, because we got to find out what our blood type was.
each of the 4 dots (i think) was being tested for a different type.
kev’s set was way prettier (type A+) and I was O…
whatever the case, mine was an ugly brown color, while his was a pretty blue.


i should say that the hospital was extremely clean, and we were given treatment just as we would in the united states. it was really quite an impressive outfit, especially when you looked out of the windows at the types of conditions surrounding the hospital.

without access to modern cooking amenities, the majority of cambodians still cook on ground fires. because of this a HUGE number of children who come into the hospital are burn victims, who fall into the fire (we have seen countless burned children since we’ve been here, and had no idea why until last saturday). since the roads are so terrible, and many are coming from the countryside, many children are in shock by the time they finally make it in, and need full blood transfusions. this was the first time i had ever given blood and i was amazed how simple and painless it was. i’m not a needle person, or a hospital person, or hell…a blood person, but it really was a piece of cake. it made me realize how something so simple could be so important.

although this blog is not intended for political purposes, if you feel you are in a position to help this hospital, and these people, i feel i should at least mention where you can get more information.
http://angkorhospital.org/default.php
http://www.fwab.org/help_donate.php

unbelievably, 85% of the funding necessary for these hospitals to run come from PRIVATE DONATIONS. the annual budget of the running costs is now 24 Million USD. less than 1 million comes from the cambodian government. yet, even still, Kantha Bopha’s relation costs/healing rate is one of the best in the world.

just something to consider.

6 million words later, just as i suspected, i got carried away.
love and miss you all.
a giant CHEERS for all the doctors and nurses out there…studying or professional.
xxx
lgt

imma klutz (and other stories).

well, cambodia is everything we hoped it would be and more. as i’m sure my previous posts made clear, the first few weeks were somewhat trying, but since we’ve been in Siem Reap, things have been nothing short of awesome. kev and i both just finished up our first week of volunteering, which we both found to be extremely fulfilling (for lack of a better, less cheesy word). kev worked at a place called TrailBlazers, which builds really simple water filters for people in remote villages allowing them to have access to clean water. just to give you an idea…inside of a 2ft high, rectangular cement box, was the filtration media, which consists of a layer of gravel, a layer of course sand, and a layer of fine sand. there is a plastic diffuser plate above the water level to avoid disturbing a “bio-layer,” which holds key bacteria essential for removing biological pathogens and parasites found in the water. he woke up early every day and went and scrubbed out giant plastic containers, sifted sand and rock, and then washed the sand for the filters. it was quite a “grassroots” organization, but the work they were doing was quite incredible. with the most meager of supplies they were able to send these $45 filters off to villages for free, thanks to volunteers and a little hard (if not monotonous) work.

in the mornings (from about 9-12), while kev was at work, i hung around, went running and explored the city via bike. when he’d get home, we’d normally head to Lucky Supermarket, a new and very exciting edition to Siem Reap (it’s the only supermarket in the city, and opened our 2nd day here), to buy some of the cheapest lunch meat, bread and, on a day we felt like splurging, cheese, they had for lunch. by the time we cycled back to the guest house, and ate, i had to get ready to go to work myself!

i worked at a “school” teaching english to about 30 kids aged 5-17. i say “school” because the school really was nothing more than a roof, about 6 rows of homemade wooden tables, and a white board. a few weeks ago, the students were meeting at one of the temples near by, but the government has been cracking down, and forcing the schools to relocate in order to keep the temples available for tourists to visit. because of this, many schools have been forced to shut down, leaving many kids no where to study. thankfully for the students at this school, a nurse offered to “donate” the lower half of her house for the school to run. so, we met there. their teacher was a 19 year old cambodian student, who was quite possibly the sweetest, most dedicated teacher alive. she was given a small stipend by a local NGO to provide pencils, paper and food for the students, but short of that, she worked for free. many of her students are orphans, and until a few weeks ago, were living on the streets. since the house has been donated, many of the students now live at the school, all sleeping on the cement floor together under scraps of ratty clothes and burlap bags. their teacher lives with them, and along with her other responsibilities, now acts as their guardian — cooking, cleaning and caring for these 9 students. the school is open to the poorest of the poor children from the siem reap area. all can attend for free, and 95% of their families are making under $1 a day.
i cant even begin to describe how amazing these students were, and the kind of energy they filled me with each and every day. i have posted some pictures below so you can see their faces. from the pictures alone–never hearing their voices, or knowing their personalities–you will fall in love. it’s impossible not to. even though the kids were definitely spread out in age, they all played together during their game time, and seemed to genuinely care for each other. the older ones would sit by the younger kids and help them copy the words off the board to their notebooks, and help pronounce words they didn’t understand. if one student brought in a small bag of fruit for a snack, they would share with the entire group, even if it meant the kid who brought the food only got a small bite. it was truly incredible to see the way they understood the world. inspiring.

for more pictures go to: www.flickr.com/shoelessone
anyway, we’re off to go rustle up some grub.
it looks like i have a few more seconds…very quickly while kev’s uploading some photos, here are just a few things that have happened or i have realized this week….
· while running a few nights ago, i was jamming to christina augliara’s “aint no other man but you” and stepped in i swear to god, the smallest pothole i have seen in cambodia. go figure. figuring i could brace my fall in the split second before actually hitting the ground, i put my hand down, and managed to not only scrape my knees, elbows and chin, but also sprain my finger. as i’m sure many of you know, gracefulness was not a trait i inherited at birth. as you can imagine, my fall was definitely not elegant, attractive nor fluid. if the pain of the fall wasn’t enough, there happened to be a group of people riding down the street on their mopeds who were just close enough to see me wipe out. great. bloody knees, purple finger, and pride sore from embarrassment. not bad for a night’s run.
· i realized yesterday that i have not washed my only pair of pants since i have been here. they’re the zip off ones, so i feel like i’m wearing 2 different pairs on any given day. (yes, i know that’s not the case.) i washed them immediately after i came to this realization. dark brown cannot do the color of the water justice.
· speaking of my innately klutzy behavior, i must relay this, yet again, extremely embarrassing story. earlier this week, i met with a guy (who happened to be a monk) to learn some Khmer. it was a really funny, albeit awkward experience, but i walked away feeling like i learned a lot, and was really excited to start trying out some new words. needless to say, it’s very difficult to pronounce half the words with the letters used, let alone get the inflections right. sometimes they’re practically inaudible – at least to my untrained ear. but i tried my best (for instance, try pronouncing the word chngng anh. that is how the monk spelled “delicious” for me. like those lack of vowels? yeah, it drives me crazy too). anyway, my very first day at school (really, within the first minute or so), in an attempt impress her with some Khmer, i said, “hi there, how are you doing today?” instead however, i managed to ask if she had sex with her brother in front of the entire class. immediate uproar. completely unaware of what i had just asked, i sit there smiling, waiting for her response. while she’s getting noticeably uncomfortable, and trying to quiet her class down, she turns to me and says, “i think you should retry your question.”
looks like you can be klutzy without actually falling.
here’s hoping i’m not the only klutz out there,
xxx
lgt

cambodian hodgepodge.

Tuol Sleng Prison, Phnom Penh.

room of tourture cells.

S-21 victim.

cambodian countryside.

phnom penh riverside.

Angkor Wat and surrounding temples.










RANDOM.
kevo gots a haircuts.

going for another shrimp plate at shabbi shu.

someone’s excited about their food…

elephants in the market.


avid bike rider. 49km yesterday! woo hoo!

Ok

Ok, so this may not be a particularly epic post, but I’m going to lay down the facts with my less than perfect grammar and sentence structure.

First, as of now Lindsay and I are in Siem Reap. Siem Reap is a gigantic step up from Phnom Penh as far as we are concerned, and from the second we got into Siem Reap we both felt very positive about it. Though Lindsay’s two previous posts may or may not have given the impression, we had/have mixed and even negative feelings towards aspects of Phnom Penh (there wasn’t much to do, it was pretty expensive, it rained every day, etc) and our traveling souls were starting to feel traveled out. Siem Reap is a breath of fresh clean air and has lots to offer.

A few highlights, in no particular order:
1) Our guest house is called Bou Savy, and is in the Northern part of Siem Reap. It’s 13.50 USD a night and includes AC, a TV, free water, and free breakfast. This isn’t super cheap however the free breakfast and great location makes it a steal for us and we feel very positive about it. The people are incredibly nice and friendly here – plus there are two puppys that eat breakfast with us in the AM. Lindsay and I love the puppies.

2) There are a bunch of volunteer opportunities around here. OK, I hate the words “volunteer” and “opportunities” next to each other as to me personally it sounds cliche and canned, so I’ll call these things, “places you can work at.” But whatever you may call them, there are a bunch of them here and they seem to be well organized and generally attractive. Tomorrow Lindsay is meeting with a teacher from a school she is hoping to help out at, and I’m meeting with a guy who builds and installs water filters for poor people. Our general plan is to stay in Siem Reap until our visa expires at the end of the month.

I can’t speak too much about Lindsay’s volunteer program as neither of us know much yet other than she’ll hopefully be going to a local school to help out in a classroom with English related topics. I don’t know much either, but I know that I’ll probably be doing mainly manual labor, washing gravel I believe. The filters that this organization builds are actually something of an open source design I believe (feel free to google open source :)) and are used around the world in a bunch of third world countries. They are cheap the build ($45 USD will build 1 filter) and easy to maintain. They process around .6 L of water a minute. Basically they are 3ish foot tall cement structures that have several layers of different materials (gravel to filter some stuff out, sand to filter some smaller stuff, a section of specific bacteria which kill 98ish percent of harmful “biomass”, etc) and while I’m not going to kid myself or you and say I’m going to be doing anything romantic (installing these things amid shouts of praise from the village kids who smile and splash each other with clean bacteria free water after I’m done with my noble work!!) I am looking forward to doing SOMETHING physically demanding and hopefully it will help somebody out along the way.

3) Today we saw Ankor Vat, and a bunch of temples around the area. This is perhaps worth a post of it’s own, and certainly deserves some photos which we’ll post later, but for now I’ll say that it was incredibly impressive and yet hard to appreciate. Honestly this series of temples and ruins was probably one of the most amazing things I’ve EVER seen, probably at least in the top 10. (My) Words can’t do it justice, basically there are beautiful temples and ruins in beautiful forests. Big temples. We’ll post some photos later (see my next point).

4) For my fellow nerds, let me tell you how terrible the internet connections over here are. the computers themselves have been anywhere from incredibly terrible to ricer XP installs with Vista skins to actually pretty newish computers, but the internet connections have been universally terrible. I’ve been testing my connection speed everywhere I go and the FASTEST sustained download I’ve managed is 25ish kilobytes a second. More regularly I’m seeing 10-15 kilobytes down and 10ish up. This wouldn’t be a big deal as I don’t spend a ton of time on the computer, but call it a crime to humanity or not, I have been downloading podcasts and things for long (5 hour +) bus rides and trying to upload full resolution photos to flickr for archiving purposes and it’s impossible to do. More shamefully I want to give the iPod Touch 2.1 firmware a trial run, and have converted all of the latest season of house to iPod Touch format via VNC at home and uploaded it to webspace to download. Plus I lost all of my music last firmware update a month or so ago so am trying to replenish my collection somewhat. But generally I’m getting things like this:


5) Food is cheaper here then in Phnom Penh. In Phnom Penh Lindsay and I were shopping at a supermarket the last few days which was actually pretty nice but that was in part because the food was pretty expensive there (10 bucks or more normally for a meal). Here we’ve been eating for less than 5 bucks for the two of us.

6) It’s illegal to rent a motorbike as a tourist in Siem Reap, but Lindsay and I rented peddle bikes today/yesterday and have been putting on a few miles. Yesterday was 48.something kilometers, today was around 39 or so. My legs/knees actually hurt a bit today, but whatever doesn’t kill you…

Ok, my neck hurts and I’m off to drink water.

Miss you all back home!

Much love,
kev

it makes me angry.

thus far, cambodia has been somewhat of a hard place to travel. not for any real reason, besides the pace is so much slower than Thailand, and the people seem so much poorer. we’ve been staying in Phnom Penh, and for the life of me, i can’t wrap my head around the fact that this is in fact a CAPITAL of a country. people beg on the streets all day, everyday. í know it could be just a gimmick, but it’s been extremely hard for me, knowing full well that no number of riel that we could possibly afford to give would really help all that much. it’s tiring. for the last few weeks, i have resorted to carrying around carrots and various other food items in my pockets to hand out to the street kids that beg for food (i would carry around a backpack chock-full of food, but we’ve recently heard about a large upsurge of bag-snatching, both in broad daylight and at night; in crowded streets and deserted ones alike. the victims are almost entirely western women riding in tuk tuks or on motorbikes, so i’m sticking to carrying stuff in my pockets! :)). giving money (or so i’ve heard) makes them extremely vulnerable to explotation, which is expected. it’s hard. Phnom Penh alone claims to house 40,000 street kids. 40,000! it makes me sad, frustrated, helpless and angry every time.
the other day, we visited Tuol Sleung Prison (s-21), which was about a block from our guesthouse. the prison was once a highschool which was converted into Cambodia’s most important and secertive prison in 1975. More than 14,000 people were tortured here before being killed at the Killing Fields south of Phnom Penh; only 8 prisoners made it out alive. what really made it disturbing for me though, was the fact that this prison is truly in the heart of Phnom Penh’s suburbia (if you could have ever called it that). apartment buildings and shops surround the walls of the old highschool, just as they would in any major city. the fact that 14,000 people were tourtured among streets bustling with street vendors, shop keepers and city residents blows my mind. it’s sick. really makes you wonder what’s happening in your own backyard. oh, not to mention that it happened almost within my lifetime. it’s one thing to read about hitler in history class. it’s another to see tourture rooms still stained with blood, the thousands of battered mug-shots on the walls, and the men and women, who could be my parents, on the street, knowing full well that they are probably survivers of a horrific genocide which happened less than 25 years earlier. it’s things like this i know i must see to truly know what a country is all about. it leaves a mark though, for the good or for the bad, and is something i know i’ll never forget. it makes me angry.

(i’ll post pictures when the internet connection isn’t so slow).

Stung Meanchey Municipal Waste Dump is located in southern Phnom Penh, in a district of the city of the same name, Stung Meanchey. it is a part of the city with low-income neighborhoods and slums. the dump itself covers about 100 acres, or almost 6 hectares. it’s flanked by private property on which rubbish pickers build makeshift huts and are charged extortionate rents by landowners. roughly 2,000 people, about 600 of which are children, live and work there. it’s nicknamed “Smoky Mountain” because of the miasma of smoke that the dump constantly gives off. It is literally on fire; the waste creates methane as it rots and the methane burns. in monsoon season and throughout much of the rest of the year, the surrounding area is swamped and the children live and play in fetid water.

most of the rubbish pickers at Steung Meanchey are either from Phnom Penh or came to Phnom Penh looking for work and ended up in the slums. many of the approximately 600 children have parents or relatives who also work on the dump and look after them. some of them go to school, but most do not – at least not on a regular basis -and it is safe to say that virtually none of them ever completes a primary school education. the school fees are too high and their families need them to collect rubbish to contribute to the family income. adults earn, on average, 4000 to 5000 riels (US$1.00 to $1.25) a day; children earn on average about half that amount. (source: The Centre for Children’s Happiness ) it makes me angry.
we’re leaving tomorrow for Siem Reap (home of the infamous, Angkor Wat) for a few weeks before we regroup, and go visit Tri in Vietnam, which frankly, we’re really looking foward to. i’m planning on volunteering at a school teaching English in one of the Angkorian temples in Siem Reap, which i’m really quite excited about. i’m calling the principal tomorrow to confirm everything, but it looks like it’s going to work out. i cannot wait to see how a classroom is run, and experience something new.
the internet joint is about to close, so i gotta jet.
love and miss you all. xxxlgt

Welcome to Cambodia.

In a word: potholes. I wonder if that actually is supposed to be two.
Welcome, fellow readers, to Cambodia! A land of dirt, dust, smiles and POTHOLES! Our journey here was nothing short of hilarious. We left Thailand from Chanthaburi by minibus for an uneventful 2-hour trip to the Ban Pakkard/Pailin border on September 3rd. Much to our relief, we had no trouble getting our visas (horror stories can be found here: http://www.talesofasia.com/cambodia-overland-bkksr-reports1.htm), and after a “tip” for the border patrol guy, we were on our way. We jumped on the back of a moped (motodup) with two very smiley men –one with terrible cataracts, the other wearing a Julia Roberts’ Pretty Woman hat for the 50km trip to the city of Pailin. Awed by the National Geographic-esque countryside, I embraced the potholes and sent silent words of encouragement to my half-blind driver, mentally helping him avoid driving us into a ditch.

The one thing Cambodia has to offer right away is dirt. Red-orange dirt. Loads of it. I had read about this. Countless rants from countless travelers. Nothing I could have read though could have prepared me for just how ridiculous the dirt, coupled with the potholes could be. Hilariously ridiculous. Tears streaking my now orange cheeks, coughing uncontrollably, driver laughing hysterically -we pull into Pailin. We jump off, and the Julia wannabe explains in KhmerEnglish that he is going to find us a taxi to take us to Battambang, where we were planning on staying for a few days. Perfect. Turning around, we are surprised to see a whole group of people have assembled around us, laughing and trying to speak to us in broken English. Amused, we take out our tattered phrasebook, and try to indulge them by speaking some no doubt, terrible Khmer. Just as we had gotten past the formalities, Julia is back introducing our “taxi” driver.

This is where the fun begins.

Ami (that’s his name) is adorned in a full hunter green military getup, complete with terrible acne, pants tucked into black lace-up boots, a frown, and a military cap. After drawing the payment required for the trip to Battambang on the dusty window of his rusty Honda, he throws a cell phone in Kev’s face and says, “talk.” While I’m laughing with the other 20 people standing around watching this transaction take place, Kev, looking totally freaked out and annoyed, keeps saying, “what? Uh huh. Yes. What? I don’t…What? 1200 Baht? Yes. Yes….” while shooting me “stop-laughing-if-you-know-what’s-good-for-you” looks. (In my defense, no matter how hard I try, it seems Cambodian men refuse to do any sort of business transaction with women, at any time.) Finally, Kev hands the phone back and the man opens up the trunk. We throw our stuff in, say our “aa gohns (thank yous)” and jump in. Turns out, the guy on the phone wanted to be sure that Kev had actually given him 1200 baht to take us to Battambang. Fishy right? This was not a certified cab, and despite his military appearance, Ami was not a member of the military. Just a guy with some wheels. We were not on the road more than a minute when Ami’s phone goes off. Looking more pissed than ever, he pulls over and starts honking his horn relentlessly. Soon, a man appears at the window, and he hands him some money. No smiles. No thank you. No nothing. Just a debt paid. I think during our 3 hour trip, Ami’s phone went off 6 times. Which meant: 6 more headache-inducing honking sessions, 6 more unfriendly payments to 6 more unfriendly people, NOT on the way to Battambang.

Just after the first debt was paid, it started to rain. Nay. POUR. It’s funny to think back to when I complained about the rains in Thailand. Thailand doesn’t understand crap about rainstorms. They don’t have dirt roads. Or potholes. The best thing about the rain here is that even though the cars can hardly make it down the road without stalling out, and even though there are 10 year olds swimming up to their necks in the streets, there is still dust. There is still dirt. Not mud (although there is plenty of that too), but dust. I can’t explain it really. It’s one of the craziest things, but it’s true. Anyway, so there we are, driving along. Ami skillfully swerving around the road trying to avoid the potholes (well, every 3rd, anywayJ), my arm fat jigglin’ to a song I didn’t want to dance to. NOTE: There are a couple of things that tell a girl she needs to start doing some pushups. 1) driving down a Cambodian road. 2) doing the Chicken Dance at wedding parties. Let me just be clear. I did 20 pushups that night before bed.

So back on the road, we end up picking up a few more passengers. Naturally, with 6 bodies now packing the car, the windows start fogging up. It is still pouring rain. Pouring. The windows must all stay up to avoid drowning in the car. Now, I swear to god, you CANNOT see out of the windshield. The guy sitting on the stick shift is wiping off the condensation every 30 seconds for our irritable, sweaty driver. All you can see are black blobs slowly passing in front of your eyes. Oh! There’s a cow! Oh! There goes a truck! Oh! There’s a kid playing in the water!

We almost hit cars. We almost hit dogs. Chickens. Children. Even though Ami could see no better than my driver with cataracts on the first leg of the trip, he had one thing the first driver didn’t. A horn. Even though we couldn’t see a damn thing, we kept our 30km/hr pace, flying over potholes, gripping the safety handrails to avoid smacking ourselves into a concussion, horn wailing non-stop for over 3 hours, all while watching orange water fly over the top of our windows.

That is, until the car broke down.

Yes, a little transmission problem! That’s all! Stalled in the dead center of the road, everyone piles out of the car to stand by some cows, while a now seriously cranky Ami phones his brother to come pick us up. Luckily we didn’t have to wait toooo terribly long, and soon we were all loaded into his brother’s car. We left Ami with his rusty Honda in the middle of the road. Ha. Poor Ami. September 3rd was just not his day.

Anyway, the guesthouse we sought out was owned by an Aussie and his Khmer wife, who promised to be an open book for all the Cambodian questions one could ever think of. That sounded great to us, as we could hardly pronounce “hello” correctly at this point. Too bad he turned out to not be all that cool, and mainly seemed to be working us at every angle for more money. Just the same, the rooms promised A/C, which was quite welcomed after our hot and humid trip there. Just as bed is starting to sound nice (around 10pm) the power goes. Within 15 minutes I am literally dripppppping with sweat. I have slept in many a non-air conditioned room since we’ve been here. No problem. In fact, I can count the number of times we’ve had A/C on one hand. Trouble was, the man neglected to put screens on his A/C room windows –which was perfect considering we are in the Malaria capital of the world. Since we were too cheap to get Malaria pills at home, it wasn’t a risk we were willing to take, and our window stayed shut. So, I resorted to getting up every 15 minutes in attempts to cool myself down with a cold shower. It is so dark I truly can hardly feel my way to the bathroom. It’s kind of scary. I get Kev. There we are. Laying on opposite sides of the bed, refusing to touch each other, window closed, in pitch darkness, sweat pouring out of every crevice on our bodies. Disgusting is the only real way to put it. After an hour of incessantly trying to ignore the heat and will myself to sleep, I am just about there. Floating above my body, aware that I’m still awake, but barely. It is at this point–3 in the morning, 5 hours since we lost power–that the worst possible thing happens. The manager’s 10 month old baby starts crying. Nay. Not crying. Wailing. The wailing of an over-tired kid who is so hot, and so sticky, and so uncomfortable that they couldn’t embrace sleep if they were knocked unconscious. I’m sure our parents can remember such a cry. Nothing you can do will make them stop. They just have to cry themselves into an even greater exhaustion until they fall asleep again. And that’s seemingly, just what his parent’s decided to let him do. 2 hours later, he finally stopped. 5-something in the morning, and a million cold showers later, I set myself back to willing myself to sleep.

The next morning, we woke up starving. Thankfully, the power had turned back on around 6:30am, so we got a couple hours of good, non-sweaty sleep. When we walked downstairs at 10am, we encountered quite the sight….
So an archaeologist, an English teacher, and a land mine bomb technician walked into a bar…

Sound familiar?

Long story short, we ended up partaking in a wonderfully drunken birthday celebration for a 68 year old British English teacher. The bomb technician worked for the government, and bought us COUNTLESS (read: too many) drinks. As it turns out, his truck had just run over a land mine an hour earlier, on the way to our guesthouse to buy his friend some drinks for his birthday, blowing it to pieces. He acted like it was a pretty common occurrence. Not too shaken up about it, crazy enough. Although we tried to fend them off, the man proceeded to buy us more “doubles” than one should ever drink, let alone at 10 am on an empty stomach. It was an awesome time. Story after story. Hour after hour. I kept pushing my drinks to Kev (he kept taking them every time I got up to pee or talk to anyone) and needless to say, by 5pm we were drunk. Very drunk. Kev though, was a little more than very drunk. It was hilarious. He maintained this goofy grin on his face for close to 4 hours, and kept babbling on about, “how great of an experience this was,”as only he could. For some reason, unbenounced to me, he decided to involve us in a late-night poker game with some of the regulars. Still drunk, he lost his money within 5 hands, while I managed to stay in for an hour or so before losing. Overall, it honestly was a really fun, if not a terribly unproductive day.

And now, we’re in Phnom Penh. I’m exhausted. There’s a lot to write about here, but I’m just too tired to do it now. I don’t understand why I always decide I should write a post late at night on this damn ipod. You’d think I’d learn.

On an entirely random note, I bet I almost step on 10 cockroaches on any given night. They’re everywhere. And big. Easily as big as a small gerbil. Not that I mind really. At least they’re not spiders.

Also my Crest toothpaste has about one more use left, and then it’s time for the no-brand Asian stuff. Again, it’s not a big deal, just weird to think about having been here long enough to have gone through an entire tube of toothpaste. And toothbrush, for that matter. My toothbrush is in rough shape. But that guy was in rough shape before I even got here. I like them broken in. Like, bristles flattened to the plastic, broken-in. That’s the best way. Plus, if you use it down that much, it makes getting a new one that much more exciting. Teeth brushing has always been a big thing for me. I like clean teeth. Over here, I find myself brushing them 3-4 times a day (which I know isn’t even good for them) because of all the dirt flying around. It seriously feels like the Wizard of Oz. Yes, if you can imagine the dust storm in the Wizard of Oz, coupled with rain, you can imagine Cambodia. By the end of the day, you’ve been crunchin’ on dirt particles for 10+ hours. For the orally fixated, it’s cheaper (and maybe healthier) than cigarettes or gum, I suppose.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I think my toothbrush may have brushed its last tooth. Tomorrow may be the day for a new one.

Hope the roads aren’t dusty where you are.
Miss you all.
xxx
Lgt

Vi sitter här i venten och spelar lite DotA.

I just had to share quickly, last night was awesome as Lindsay and I went to an internet cafe to do some Cambodia research, and what should I find but a few fellow DotA players! DotA, being a somewhat obscure video game I play (not enough? too much? I’m not sure..) back at home. Anyway, it was great to see such a familiar, “important” thing to me in such a distant place, being played by guys who couldn’t even speak english. It was pretty awesome.