Friday, November 11, 2011

The crazy chaos of Siem Reap, Cambodia

Today, I'm celebrating three days of solid bowel movements.  That's quite an accomplishment considering some of the crap that I've eaten since I first stepped on Cambodian soil a couple of days ago.

The flight from Los Angeles to Siem Reap went by much better than expected.  Korean Air has really great service and I feel far more comfortable flying half way across the world in one of their planes than flying in a cramped seat on one of our domestic airlines.  And Korean Air has really hot fly attendants--I think it is a job requirement to look really pretty in a tight fitting size O dress.  Safety is my biggest priority, of course, and I made it into Cambodia in one piece.  Very tired after 18 hours of flying but very safe.

The day doesn't begin slowly and easily in Siem Reap, it gets ripped wide open.  I woke up the first morning to the sound of honking cars, screaming kids and barking dogs.  My friend and I are staying at the Seven Candles Guesthouse (where we have stayed for the past three visits) and it's always a treat to stay with Ponheary Ly and her gracious family.  There are plenty of places to stay in this town but my vote goes to this guesthouse where you feel like you're a relative visiting from out of town.  Four generations of Ponheary's family live in this house and you will not be disappointed by the warm and friendly ambience.  The location is on Wat Bo road providing easy access to the downtown area.  Give a tuktuk driver a buck or so and you'll be there in a couple of minutes.  As an added bonus, if you stay at the Seven Candles, you are helping to support a very worthwhile charity called the Ponheary Ly Foundation (organized by Lori Carlson, an American) which provides clothes and supplies to children so that they can attend school.  And school is the answer--at least that is what their tshirt says.

But did I mention that there is another charity that needs support?  The Savong Foundation???

The main reason why I'm here is to do work for my charity, the aforementioned Savong Foundation (  Today, we met with our fearless leader, Savong, and discussed some of the plan for the coming two weeks.  There is sooooo much I would like to accomplish that I worry that I won't get everything done .... but I'm optimistic at this point.  The main focus will be to see what is needed to get the Savong Student Center up and running.  This is a home for the older children so that they can attend a better school in Siem Reap.  Unfortunately, we are short on the funds needed to get this project completed (the building is there but the students aren't) so a lot of our discussions will be about the cost of ongoing support and how we can raise the necessary funds.  Savong has accomplished an incredible amount so far so I have no doubt our collaborative efforts will eventually result in success.

And now, the sun is getting lower in the sky.  It's a beautiful sunset once again (similar to the one I witnessed on top of the Pre Rup temple last evening) and I'm already thinking about what's on the dinner menu for tonight.  I'm listening to the hum of the trucks and the cars outside--the noise hasn't really died down yet--and the air is cool and comfortable.  It's going to be a good night.

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