Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bye Bye Cambodia

Today, Anette, Stine (pronounced Stina btw) and I traveled to the silk farm, located 30 min from Siem Reap by tuk-tuk in a beautiful, secluded area in the middle of a small village. It was really interesting to see the process from start to finish of how the biology of silk worms are turned into scarves. Everything was displayed: from the worms to the moths to the cocoons to the silk threading to the dying process and then to the weaving and we were also allowed to touch anything, including the worms, which made it more fun. With the culture of the silk worms, it takes a week or two from start to finish to produce one scarf, and the weaving can take three full work days as the patterns can be vividly intricate. This definitely makes me feel strange about having only spent $4 on a scarf from the market, because this means that some of the village women who physically weave them only make about $1 or $2 on each scarf... do the math, that's like 75 cents a day income, if even.

When we got back to town, we had some lunch at my favorite little market restaurant for a whopping $2.50 each and that's including the meal and Coca-Cola we bought for this adorable little street kid who was selling postcards. He sat at the table with us to eat his rice dish and we tried our best to communicate with him, but his English was very limited besides his proud knowledge of the capital of Norway. I would not have guessed he be above the age of ten, but he was 13! I couldn't stop thinking about how lucky the NGO kids are to have been taken off the streets and how much this kid deserves to be saved as well.

And, finally got a quick shot of the batmo-tuk-tuk.

As I sit here at Siem Reap airport waiting to board the flight to Hanoi, surrounded by a large group of middle-aged Japanese tourists, highlights from this past month are flashing through my mind, with already a bag of nostalgia. I'll be back here next week for the night, but the 'real' trip to Cambodia has technically ended.

In just a month, I will have travelled from one side of Cambodia to the other, spent five days in an orphanage, visited a half dozen schools and NGO projects and a hospital, met hundreds of beautiful children, taught some, made art with others, hung out with a Buddhist monk, visited many temples, including catching sunrise at the magnificent world wonder, Angkor Wat, splashed around in a gorgeous waterfall in the heart of a sacred forrest, had a drink at a really bizarre Cambodian nightclub, sung karaoke with 15 drunken Brits, eaten kilos of shrimp fried rice, drank dozens of fruit shakes and made some really awesome traveler friends, who I dearly hope to see again in the future.

The experience has been unreal and yet so incredibly real. The people of Cambodia are among the most kind and lovely people I've ever met. Their ways have not only taught me many life lessons, such as patience, forgiveness and positivity, but to appreciate the life that I lead back home and to not take little things for granted, such as a clean shower or even a bowl of salad. It was wonderful to have spent some time here and to have immersed myself into the culture. I was starting to feel quite at home and comfortable here, and hope that I shall return someday soon, very likely with the goal to build a small school. The kids are so magnificent, inside and out, and I would do anything to help them in whatever way I possibly could. It's been a beautiful month and I would like to thank all of you who donated to my project - your help has clearly changed my life and that of many adorable Cambodian kids!

And now, I shall be waking up in Vietnam and then traveling to Sapa and Halong Bay... The blog may be on pause for a few days...

1 comment:

  1. Erica,
    You'll have a great time in both Sapa and Halong Bay. Great places for photography. We were able to hike into the valley near Sapa and spend the night at a home in the ethnic village. Neat experience. Halong Bay is magical. Enjoy.
    Danny Spitler