Thursday, April 21, 2011

I just realized that I have not blogged since February. I'll try to give you a brief update:

1. Health Camp Glow: At the end of April, the 5 volunteers in my province had a girls' camp for 25 of our female students (5 from each district) and 5 of our teachers/or midwives. We brought everyone into the provincial town for a weekend of fun and sessions about leadership and health. It was an amazing success! The girls learned a lot and had so much fun (none of them wanted to go home)! As volunteers, we were excited to see that something we've been planning since September actually happened and finished without any problems. The last stage of the project will be completed this month as our girls plan a community activity to educate people in their respective districts about the issues they learned at the camp. If you have any more questions about this, please just send me an email...I'd love to share more!

2. Dengue Fever: Right after Camp Glow, I biked the 2 hours home and then later that night began to not feel so well. I just thought that because I had been so busy and because I biked both ways I was just exhausted. However, the next day I felt bones ached and I was tired. However, because I was leaving for vacation to Indonesia that Friday, I had so much to do, I just took some un-asprin, and tried to get stuff done. Then later that night I had a high fever and when the un-asprin wore off, my bones would ache- even to the point that it would wake me up in the middle of the night. Then on Wednesday, when I arrived in Phnom Penh (we flew out of PP) I realized I had a rash all over my body. Then I was certain I had Dengue Fever. So, the nurse took my blood (I was also anemic) and I was ordered to rest. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to even go on my trip. However, they were able to move my flight to a day later and I was able to get on the same flight as my friends who were leaving a day later. For those of you don't know about dengue fever, it is a mosquito borne illness that you contract from mosquitoes that carry the disease. There is no medication to cure dengue fever, just un-asprin to numb the aches and lots of water and rest. Dengue is very common in SE Asia and Cambodia, specifically. A lot of volunteers get it; however, no one in my province had gotten it yet.

3. Sumatra, Indonesia: Northern Sumatra was AMAZING! There were 7 of us (all PC volunteers) that went, which turned out to be the perfect number because we could rent our own van making travel very, very easy. Also, we are all really good friends so it was so much fun to travel with everyone.
Bukit Lawang: The first destination was Bukit Lawang. There we went on an overnight jungle trek to see orangutans. We saw lots of mother orangutans with their babies. Some were so close we could have walked up to them to touch them. We also saw different types of monkeys and a monitor lizard. Trekking through the jungle was intense (the Dengue probably didn't help). It was very mountainous and difficult because it was muddy from the rain. When we arrived at our camp for the night we all went swimming in the river and relaxed. We then hiked 3 hours the next day and then rafted the river back to town. It was amazing.
Berastagi: The second place we visited was Berastagi. There we stayed in a cozy guesthouse outside the city at the foot of a volcano. Here we all froze because it was high in the mountains and we came from Cambodia where it is eternally hot. The next day we hiked the volcano and then after our descent went to some hot springs to relax!
Lake Toba: Our final destination was an island called Lake Toba. We had to take a ferry to get there. Lake Toba is the largest lake in Southeast Asia. While the rest of Sumatra is very Muslim with mosques everywhere, Lake Toba is almost entirely Christian. Moreover, these Christians used to be cannibals (before they were Christians). You could see the mixture of their animist beliefs with with Christianity. Anyway, we had a great time relaxing at our guesthouse overlooking the lake and the mountains, going off the diving board, and exploring the Island. The second day there, my friend Kellee and I randomly discovered a German bakery/guesthouse that had the most amazing food- and freshly roasted Sumatran coffee! We went there one to two times a day until we left! I also bought some of the coffee and have been enjoying it here in Cambodia ever since. There are coffee plantations all over Sumatra and it is really some of the best coffee in the world!
I was catching a flight a night earlier that everyone else, so I headed by myself to the airport in Medan to catch my flight back to Cambodia. I had a layover in Malaysia where I drank Starbucks coffee twice! Definitely an amazing vacation. I had never considered going to Indonesia; however, it is now a place I MUST return after I'm done in Cambodia. The food is amazing, the people are nice and it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. I also want to visit Java, Jakarta and Bali. Indonesia has over 17,000 islands so there is not a shortage of amazing sights to see. If you want to read more about my trip, check out some of my friends' blogs which give much more detailed accounts:,,,

4. Khmer New Year: I planned my Indonesia trip so that I could return to Cambodia before Khmer New Year per my Khmer family's insistence. Khmer New Year was a lot less busy this year than it was the year before. I only went to the pagoda one day as opposed to last year where I went for 4 days! However, there were still lots of parties to attend and games to play. Overall, it was good and I'm glad I was able to celebrate with my family and community for the last time. Usually, Cambodia's New Year is all about being with family, going to the pagoda and parties! Last year, I celebrated for about 15 days in a row. However, this year because I was in Indonesia and am now in Phnom Penh (finishing a Health Manual I'm writing) I reduced it to 5 days.

5. Life these Days....My time here in Cambodia is coming to a close. It is absolutely crazy to me that I've been here almost 2 years. It has gone by so fast. I have applied to help with the training of the new volunteers which if I am selected I'll be here until October. This also means that I am done living in my village at the end of May and will move to Phnom Penh for a month or so and then to the province where the new volunteers will be doing their training. Until then though, I have weddings (my host sister's included), traveling in Cambodia (hopefully) and our Close of Service (COS) Conference in Phnom Penh. In the meantime, I'm just going to try to enjoy my last month as a volunteer in Cambodia in a small village on the boarder of Vietnam! Definitely, lots of hanging out and eating!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Loved catching up on your experiences and travels. (Too bad one of them was Dengue Fever...) That is crazy/super cool about the area that is all Christian but used to be cannibalistic! All of your travels and photos definitely whet my appetite for seeing more of the world. Hope you get the volunteer trainer position and enjoy every minute remaining abroad.