Cambodia

Lheang, my Hero

As you all know I have just returned back after volunteering in a school in Cambodia. This story is about a student Thoch Chorlheang and my special bond with him.

It was my first day at school as a volunteer teacher in a new town of a new country. I felt like a kid who was going to start his first ever day of education. Lack of a common language had made me both excited and nervous. I was wondering how I am going to communicate with students who understood very little or no English.
I had already charted out a rough plan of my way of teaching after meeting with people at the NGO who had apprised me of students’ current level of knowledge of English.

Here in school, after the customary round of greetings and introductions, all students settled in their respective seats. As the normal scene in any class, I could see them whispering and discussing me. Ignoring them, as I started discussing about the curriculum and related stuff with their regular teacher, I heard a voice.

lheang my hero @lemonicks.com

One of my classes.

Sitting restless

Cambodia, 5 off beat things to do in Siem Reap

Cambodia, 5 off beat things to do in Siem Reap

We all know that a sightseeing tour of Cambodia entails a visit Angkor Wat, and the so many temples until you get completely templed out and so many Wats to last you a lifetime.
Also, any “5 things to do in Cambodia” will talk about the 5 main points of attractions and may include Balloon rides and Helicopter Tours as well.

Wat What if you are on a extended trip like we were? I have compiled a few off beat stuff that you can do.

Volunteer : Most government schools will welcome a volunteer teacher, house builder, electrician, carpenter etc. Spend a few hours every week to help Cambodia, which is now struggling to be back on its own 14 million pairs of feet. Generally you can just walk in to a school and find out about these opportunities & availabilities but if you are like me then you can find something beforehand and finalize the dates and timings etc.
Well, if you are really interested, I can help you out in this.

Cello Concert at Children’s Hospital : The swiss pediatrician Dr. Beat Richner, adorns the nick name, BEATOCELLO. Why ? Because he plays the Cello!
Beat Richner in cambodia @lemonicks.com

The cellist pediatrician Dr. Beat Richner at his work.

During

Living an expat life

Living an expat life

As I sip Chinese tea sitting in my balcony, I try to look back at the time spent in this country.

I live in an urbanized village of Siem Reap, Cambodia. There is no electricity in the area for last 3 hours and I am told that around 6 years back they had electricity for only 3-4 hours a day. It’s quite an improvement, they say. The morning is not very hot … a cloudy day again.

Living an expat life in cambodia @lemonicks.com

Awesome Sun emerging, overpowering the dark night.

The tea is prepared on a small gas camp stove; the only stove I have for cooking. I gaze into my cup. The tea is almost colorless and tasteless without milk or sugar… does it remind me of something? Is it like my life here in Cambodia?

Negotiating

Street food of Cambodia

Picture of the moment: Street food in Siem Reap
Picture of the moment is a weekly series exhibiting pictures, through which I show you a bit of my world.

While strolling on the roads of Siem Reap, it is a common sight to see beef and other animals being barbecued for your dinner. You can eat there itself or get it packed for home.

street food in cambodia @lemonicks.com

Would you like to have some ? 😀

I suggest, you

Cambodian Dollar (?) Rules!

Cambodia is a place where more than their local currency, it is the US Dollars that rules.
Coming out of the Phnom Penh airport, there are several kiosks, the first one is a Currency Exchange. We wanted to change a USD 100 to Khmer Riel (KHR). To my surprise, the counter girl asked, “Are you sure?”,
I gave her a look on that stupid question and said “Of course”.

But we were utter idiots.
Why? Read on.

While planning a trip abroad, one of the first things most of us do is

Kralan, Cambodian bamboo rice cake

Kralan, Cambodian bamboo rice cake.

Three days back I had asked on Facebook about the photo shown below.
The responses were quite interesting. Ranging from a smoking pipe, cow poo to a spider, they made me laugh and of course worried. For a moment I wanted to stab myself for asking our driver to stop midway to buy these. Come on, I had eaten bambooful of this dish!
I am pretty sure some people referred to Google as well because they answered correctly. 😀

kralan ข้าวหลาม @lemonicks.com

Packed food, ready to eat.

Okay, here is the answer. It is a traditional Cambodian rice dish

First day at school

I was going to a school !
I was both excited and nervous. What’s in store for me in this town of a new country where lack of a common language is a big problem for us. Last four days, I had difficulty in explaining what I wanted to eat or where I wanted to go. Then how am I going to communicate with teachers and students of the school?

So what if I am a volunteer teacher, I was feeling like a kid going to a new school.
All these emotions bothered me constantly as I took the transport to the school that is around 3 KM away from my place of stay.

It took a while to find the place. This tuk-tuk driver, like any one of his brotherhood, would know the way to all the tourist spots and even smallest hotels in nooks & corners of Siem Reap, Cambodia but not know even the best educational institutions let alone this small little government school that was on the way to the airport in the outskirts!
siem reap school @lemonicks.com

One of the classes.

My contact at the school was