Thursday, April 11, 2013

Arriving in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Our trip to Cambodia via Seoul was fairly uneventful.  We arrived in Siem Reap near midnight in the middle of a thunderstorm. By the time we had gotten our visas and collected our bags, the rain was letting up. So we enjoyed our first ride in a Cambodian tuk tuk in a lightning storm.

The trip from the airport took us past Pub Street, where I am sure we will spend some of our time while we are in Siem Reap. We drove past quite a few hotels, Cambodian businesses and even a few stray dogs.

We are staying in a villa with about 10 other volunteers. By the time we got in, many of the volunteers were asleep, but we did get to meet a few who had been down on Pub Street. Did I mention that we are going to like that area?

Projects Abroad Siem Reap Villa

For the first night, Sarah shared a room with three other female volunteers and John shared a room with the only other male volunteer.  We are going to tweak the room assignments tonight.  There is at least one other room full of female volunteers. Each room has its own bath.  The rooms are quite large, with high ceilings and a good-sized balcony on the second floor.

Dorm style living

The villa seems quite nice. There is a huge front patio area with a hammock, a large living area with a small television, a big rustic kitchen, and a decent-sized eating area.  Most of the walls and ceilings, and some of the floors, are made of dark wood panels.  There are mango trees and a Buddhist shrine in the front yard.

The kitchen where our two cooks prepare the meals

Community dining at its best

Cambodia is known for power outages. While the villa has occasionally functioning A/C and several fans, we experienced our first outage on our first night. So the near 90 F degree night was a bit warmer that what we are used to in Seattle.

Living room prior to blessing by Buddhist monks (sans furniture)

Staring at our teak wood ceiling while disoriented and sweating in the tropics evoked the first scene in the movie "Apocalypse Now".  Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) did the same thing while impatiently waiting in his Saigon hotel room for his mission, and daydreaming about life in the jungle.  It felt kinda like that.

The other interesting challenge is that there is no water when there is no electricity. So after a long day traveling, we were facing a day without a cold shower. Fortunately, the Projects Abroad staff worked their magic and got us electricity and water in most of the bathrooms.

We were woken up earlier by the loud sound of the faithful being called to prayer.  This started at 5 AM and lasted for about a half hour.  It was probably Buddhist, but there are multiple religious influences in Cambodia, so we can't say for sure.  The wailing music was supplemented by several roosters crowing and a few dogs barking, but we weren't really sleeping anyway.  What time zone are we in?

Today is our induction. I am sure that will prove to be very enlightening.

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