Our first weekend in Cambodia was action packed! Once a year, Liger holds a mock auction where the kids can use merit points earned over the year to bid on special excursions or items. One auction item was to see the new Avengers movie, so on Friday night we joined several of the kids on their trip to Aeon Mall (also home to the ice skating rink.) The movie was excellent and the 4D was overwhelming but a lot of fun. Afterwards, we shopped for food for our apartment and made our first (unsuccessful) attempt to buy a magnetic pan to use with our induction stove. That night was also our first trip in a tuk tuk, the local taxi (basically a moto with a cart attached). Because we live about 20 minutes outside of the city, it can be difficult to get a driver that knows where we live or how to get there, and we were momentarily lost! We have quickly gotten skilled at navigating our way home.
On Saturday we accompanied a different group of students on their auction trip to Silk Island. While most of the silk in Cambodia today is imported from Vietnam’s machinery, people on Silk Island still weave silk garments by hand. We rented bikes and rode a 12K loop on the island, stopping for lunch at a beach on the Mekong River. The island is mostly farmland, and seemed poorer than the area around Liger. Many of the animals, cows in particular, looked desperately thin. At the lunch site on the Mekong, we ate on shaded platforms that rise a few inches above the water on stilts. Many buildings around Cambodia are on stilts to stay above the water when large portions of the country flood during the rainy season.
We spent Saturday night and Sunday afternoon exploring Phnom Penh! After taking a tuk tuk into the city, we ate dinner on Saturday at an excellent restaurant named Khmer Surin. I ordered a fish fillet from the Mekong and it was incredible in the way that only fresh seafood can be. On Sunday we wandered around several markets, beginning with the Olympic Market, stopping at the Center Market, and ending at the Night Market. The Olympic Market is known as a fashion hub of the city, and a warren of narrow paths between clothing shops winds over 3 floors.
The Center Market sells jewelry in its central area and has typical goods available on its outer ring – food, kitchen supplies, etc. Corey and I caused a slight scene as we ran around tapping all the pans with our magnet and jumped excitedly when we finally found a magnetic one. The Night Market, open from 5-9 pm, has a lot of food stands and clothing shops aimed at tourists. I bought an overpriced but totally awesome patterned pair of pants that is extremely loose and cool in the heat.
Food! Corey and I have been eating about half of our meals with the students. The chef at Liger, Matt, makes mostly Cambodian food with only a few Western style meals mixed in. Traditional Cambodian food consists of rice with an accompanying dish of veggies and meat. Overall, it’s delicious, if a bit repetitive. There isn’t much differentiation between meals – it seems like any of the food could be served for any meal. We have been cooking eggs and toast in our apartment on many mornings, which we buy from local shops down the street. There are also more Western style grocery stores in the city, as well as both Khmer and Western restaurants.
For those technical minded people out there, this is what our class has covered so far (in Python):
- Boolean algebra basics
- If/else statements
- For loops
Now we are working on combining lists and for loops!
The kids continue to impress me with how much information they retain from class to class. It is so rewarding to teach a room full of people who want to learn. Their focus over our two hour class is outstanding. Corey and I are definitely improving at figuring out how to structure our lessons to not overwhelm the kids but still keep them challenged. We’re also learning to be flexible, and to stop the new material early if we feel like the kids have been saturated. We can successfully teach a lot more new material on Monday than Friday. I’m so grateful to be working with these students and am excited to feel my relationships with them growing as I stay here longer.
HERE’S WHAT’S UP: (Where I tell you whatever is on my mind.)
Corey and I have 3-4 small salamanders living with us. We don’t bother them and they don’t bother us.
Name suggestions welcome — email me
Learn Khmer (pronounced this kmai): raw egg = pong chau (long OH, not like ping pong)