Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 5 Reflection

I woke up before my alarm set for 5:30 a.m. in hopes of attending one of the impromptu morning exercise classes on the waterfront.  Unfortunately, the classes held on Sunday morning were all choreographed in matching outfits and far too advanced for us. Instead, we walked parallel to the Tomle Sap river, enjoying the morning breeze and rapid sunrise from across the water. It is hard to believe that the first portion of our trip has come to a close. Although I was reluctant to leave the bustling city of Phnom Penh, I was looking forward to our upcoming journey to visit the Samlanh School. Even after traveling thousands of miles, it is almost unfathomable for me to conceptualize that our indirect fund raising  built a school. I can still remember selling candy bars to my classmates, saying it "just cost a dollar", and not realizing how much each dollar meant to the Samlanh Village.

We then met Chamruun, our Samlanh School correspondent, and started our drive to Rovieng, the village we would be staying in for the next two nights. Slowly the landscape shifted from vendors selling car engines and "Angry Birds" apparel to vendors selling lotus fruit, advertisements for skin bleaching to signs for the "Cambodia Peoples Party", and dust to lush greenery of rice patties. We stopped briefly in Skuon at a station selling fruit, vegetables, and... tarantulas! We were unable to eat the tarantulas, but Rohan, Daniel, and I had live ones placed on our shirts. Daniel and Rohan were brave enough to put them in their hair while I held my breath and stared down at the hairy spiders crawling up towards my exposed neck. After leaving Skuon (and managing to avoid hitting a runaway cow galloping on the road thanks to our skilled driver) the area became dry and even more remote. People riding on top of various vehicles peered into our car, surprised to see tourists so far from typical tourist attractions. Thankfully, they responded to our wave with a friendly smile.

Eventually we arrived at Phnom Snatuk, a Buddhist temple on top of a hill. We climbed up the colorful steps, pausing to catch our breath and take pictures of a nearby barrel of monkeys and the view of the land below us. More than 900 steps later, we reached the top: sweating, panting, and in awe. Mr. Green, Daniel, and Rohan (the men) were allowed to push down a sacred floating rock while Ms. Boynton, Kate, Yijin, Hannah, and I (the women) watched from the sidelines. Who wants to touch some floating rock anyway? After walking through colorful temples and exploring worn paths leading to massive 14th century Buddha carvings, we continued on our way.

Shortly afterward,  We were greeted by Bud, a Vietnam Veteran and owner of the Santuk Silk Farm. He showed us how silk was made and even offered us silk worms to eat. Rohan and Daniel each tried one. I was tempted to try one as well until I saw the look on Rohan's face as he struggled to swallow one down. We enjoyed meal cooked by Bud's wife while he shared stories of his life, including growing up in Connecticut, attempting (unsuccessfully) to avoid the Vietnam War, and starting the silk farm. After  purchasing some of the beautiful silk scarves made by the local Cambodians he employed, we began the last leg of our drive.

A few hours later we made it to our villa in Rovieng, which was built on stilts over 20ft high. We played card games while the villa's chef prepared our dinner. The evening was mellow in comparison to our time in Phnom Penh, allowing us to prepare for our day at the Samlanh School.

1 comment:

  1. Sabine - what a lovely and vivid description of this portion of the trip! I understand about the sacred rock, not fair. However, remember that "women hold up half the sky"!

    You should all be proud - no doubt your world views will never remain the same after this trip.

    be safe and healthy everyone, and enjoy the rest of your adventure

    sue (daniel's mom)