So I've had a pretty action-packed week. Last weekend was Bon Om Tuk, which is the giant water festival in Phnom Penh to celebrate the flow of the Tonle Sap changing directions. Over three days (sat-mon) teams from the provinces come with their boats to race. Thousands of people flock to the riverside in PP (Cambodians and foreigners) and watch the races. Despite what I'd heard about problems w/ crowd control, pickpockets, etc... I had a really awesome time! We followed the locals and sat over the wall that lines the riverside and had an excellent view. The boats are crazy! They are all decorated really beautifully and usually have about 50 rowers (although on some big ones I counted 80!) When I joked about wanting to go in one of the boats, I found myself being hoisted into one of the boats by donnai and some boatmen! It was crazy!! All of a sudden i'm standing in this boat with an oar in my hand and all these Cambodians cheering/laughing! It was hilarious! Well at least I now know how to say I want to row in the boat (knoym jung om tuk)!
Last Saturday, Nary (one of the CCASVA street workers) took me to her home outside of PP. It was really sweet. It's amazing how you can travel just 30 min outside PP and be in the middle of nowhere in rural Cambodia. I did, as I had feared, have to choke down a "lovely" home cooked meal at her house. Lucky for me I got to see the chicken we ate when it was bought from the local market with flies swarming all over it! yum! We've developed a saying around here: TGFR (thank god for rice!) Aside from the meal, the day was really cool. I went to a beautiful pagoda with nary's niece and got to see some really beautiful scenery!
On Thursday I was back out for another adventure w/ nary- this time with her husband and Mr. songheng (another street worker.) Now when I was invited to this one the language barrier proved a bit difficult and all I understood was "on Thursday we take you far outside PP to walk by river."- well, it sounded fun and besides, not knowing where you're going is quite the adventure! We ended up in Takiev province, about 30 km outside PP. Despite the constant uncertainty of where we were going, the day was actually really, really fun. We went to Nary's sister's house and had lunch (TGFR again!) and then went to this beautiful river where we went for a boat ride and had a swim. Then we went to see this ancient temple that predates the Angkor wat temples- I got a little taste of what I’ll see next weekend when I go to Siem Reap. I'm really grateful to Nary and Mr. Songheng for taking me out on these excursions and it makes me really glad that I did not just come to Cambodia as a tourist- I wouldn't have gotten to do any of these crazy trips!