Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Houses in Cambodia

My dad was asking about houses in Cambodia, so I thought I would post some pictures of my house and houses that you typically find here in "Bodia". My house is the one that is cement (I am now exposed because I'm not really roughing it too much here)! My house is VERY nice by Khmer standards- as you can see from the other houses. The other picture next to my house is our kitchen. It is located in the back of the house. This is done because my family cooks with wood over a fire pit and it prevents the house from burning down completely should there be a fire. We also eat out back off to the right. My family eats at a table, but usually families eat on benches (larger than a bench but the height of one). You can see one in the picture of the kitchen to the right.
The picture of the house that is made of wood is probably the most common type of house here in Cambodia. It is a traditional house Khmer house. The housees are raised off the ground by stilts and have stairs to get into the house. These houses usually have a livingroom and two bedrooms. The family usually sleeps in one or two rooms upstairs or below the house when it is hot (which is pretty much year round). It's not uncommon for most of the family to sleep in the same room. My family is sort of an exception. My sisters and parents all have their own room. However, when I was in training, I had my own room and the rest of my family slept together in the front room.

The final house is made of thatched roofs with bamboo walls. On my way into town this morning I saw one that used cardboard for the walls. These are the cheapest houses to make. I will note that because I'm close to Vietnam and electricity is very cheap, it is very common to see TVs playing in these houses and electricity. However, this is mainly due to the close proximity to Vietnam.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

There are a few funny things that have happened to me since I last posted that I thought I would share.
1. My sister went to a party the other night and when she came home I swear I thought she said they had dog for dinner. Dog is a pretty common dish here- even though I have not been lucky enough to eat it yet. This is not as bad as one of my friends who, when he was at training, came home to a lot of people at his house because the family dog had been hit by a car. The celebration included dog curry per the beloved family dog. Actually, not many dogs here are “beloved.” I personally cannot stand any dogs here. They are all bones and half starved, they bark all the time, they carry disease, and they have fleas. I would also not pet one for $100. Ok..since writing this two days ago I actually pet a puppy. Now, it was a puppy and healthy adn loved and I immediately washed my hands and arms where the dog touched. Despite this, 99% of dogs here I would not touch!

2. Since I am on the subject of eating dogs, another funny conversation was when a neighbor girl and I were talking about how we both do not like to eat dog. She said it is chewy and does not taste good. I’m hoping word gets around that the "barrang" or foreigner/French does not like to eat dog.
3. My friend Dillion, who lives in the town closest to me, came to bring me my mail last week. I thought it a good idea to introduce him to the neighbors because they really like that (even though Dillion has way better Khmer than I do and I figured that would be a source of many a conversations revolving around: “why does Dillion have such good Khmer and you don’t?” To whichI responded, “Dillion is smart.”) Anyway, so I took Dillion next door and what do we see? Tons of SNAKES. Yep, my neighbor gets them in Vietnam (not sure how) and then sells them. He also sells frogs. They are stored in huge burlap bags or buckets. Dillion and I did not stay long. Oh, yes, people here eat these, too. I will add that frog legs are very delicious. Also, Dillion added to my vanity about being "hard-core" because he confirmed that my road is totally Peace Corps. He thought it would take him a 1/2 an hour, but it took him over an hours (it takes me that long, too).
4. On a walk the other night I stopped to chat with an old yay (they are pretty inescapable). Anyway, I answered a couple of her questions, but then she asked me something I had no idea what she was saying. So, I said, “Sorry, I don’t understand.” To which she proceeded to act like she was nursing from me! I kid you not! Maybe she was saying, “Do you miss your mother?”

People here are also incredibly nice. The other day while on a bike ride a man asked me to join him for my favorite noodle dish. I had already eaten, but I think I will go to the restaurant next weekend. Also, my neighbor lady brings me fruit which is so kind because I know they don’t have a lot. One of the fruit sellers at the market gives me her best apples. My co-teachers are constantly buying me food or sweets. Thier generosity can be overwhelming knowing that they have so little. Even in the markets we always say that we are volunteers, thus, people should not rip us off just because we are white or foreign. However, the reality is that even as volunteers we make more than them.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Tree, I am unable to post pictures, but I have a funny story to share and a little time to write. Dad, I hope you can picture how this could happen. Maybe looking at the picture of the road I posted on the last post will help.
So, last week I ran into some trees on my way home from the Provential Capital. Peace Corps came to my site to visit and to make sure everything was going well and to fix anything with my schedule, etc. that they could fix. They then took me into the Provential Town where I had to stay the night because the ride was too far. So, early the next morning (think 6:00 a.m.) I started the 2- 2 1/2 hour bike ride home. I got to the site of my friend Dillion and then headed down the horrible road toward home. The day before I discovered that the other way is 37K whereas this way is 20-24K. About 15 minutes in, as I was riding on the side of the road because the real road was impossible to ride along, I saw trees (someone threw out the possibility that it could have been bamboo? not sure about that, just saw lots of leaves) in the distance covering the path. To myself I thought, Oh, I don't need to get on the road. I'll just duck a little and make it just fine. I think I did this last time somewhere along the road and it ended okay." So, I did. About mid-way through, as I was covering my eyes with my left arm, squinting my eyes, and peddling quite fast, I felt a sharp, piercing pain just below my eyes. Once I emerged I saw the blood. A lot of it actually. That's when I sort of panicked. I threw my bike to the ground and realized I was bleeding a lot and everywhere. As I was digging through my bag looking for my handkerchief an old "yah"(or grandma), I kind you not, she stopped, gave me a mango fruit rollup thing, pointed at the blood all over my face, said "blood" and then continued to walk away. It was bizarre. Anyway, I then called peace corps who was on their way to Dillion's site for his site visit. They had me bike to his moms house (who already is not happy I bike to my site and was very upset with my face). They then took me to the doctor/nurse that works at the house across the street. He cleaned up the blood and told me I needed stitches. I didn't think the cut was that deep (butterfly bandaide) so I said I didn't want stitches. Can you imagine? Stitches in Cambodia from some guy's house? That would definitley leave a scar. The peace corps nurse then suggested that we get a second opinion. We then drove back to the hospital in Svay Rieng where they said I didn't need stitches. However, they did put this nice "bandage"on my face. You would have thought have my cheek was missing. Peace Corps then dropped me off at the other, longer dirt road in which I rode the rest of the 18 K home-bandage and all. People gave me the funniest stares. It took ALL I had not to take the bandage off. Not only did it obstruct my vision, but I looked like a complete idiot. I decided to look like a really crazy foreigner rather than risk an infection. One funny bit of info the doctor gave me at the hospital was to not get the wound wet. I bet she did not factor in the 18 K bike ride at 1:00 in the afternoon in Cambodia. It's impossible. As for a scar? Oh, I hope not! It's scabbed over nicely. If anything it makes for a good story. Everyone, I mean everyone, asks about it. Ladies at the market, men in coffee shops, the list goes on. This weekend my friend Kellee and I were drinking coffee at a coffee shop in Svay Rieng and this nice man bought our coffee because we were Americans and we were helping Camboida. His friend had a huge gash/scar across his cheek and just under his eye. He said we were the same. I said "Jah, doit k'nea" or "yes, the same," but inside my head a loud, shrill voice was saying "I better not!!!" Sorry, I wish I could post my pictures...I guess you'll all have to wait in suspense until next time I bike into town. I'm actually going to be biking back to my site tomorrow pretty early and this time I PROMISE to be careful. However, I will let you know that after my accident I did do a couple hours of reading in "Where There Are No Doctors" and have an idea of how to splint my arm should I break it?!?