Friday, March 5, 2010

The Last Day at Anjali and the Floating Villages

Sadly, today was the last day at Anjali. It has been a wonderful experience that will always be remembered and I hope to some day come back to visit. I didn't really tell anyone that it was my last day, I don't like goodbyes, so I just kind of said "See you later" to keep the spirits up. Out of everyone, I'll miss my little Sompeas girl the most, with her shaved head and big smile. If anyone is interested in sponsoring a child at Anjali, you may do so for $20 or $40/month. Visit for more information.

After class, Stine, Anette and I went to visit the Chong Khmeas floating villages in the Tonlé Sap lake. It was such an amazing, yet bizarre sight. First of all, the village where we docked out of was extremely poor and depressing and the landscape all around the initial entrance to the Tonlé Sap lake is filthy, rundown and smelly.

In the middle of this lake, there are dozens of small homes simply floating in the water, which all make up a small water commune. There are a few restaurants that welcome tourists, people trying to sell beer from other boats, beggars with small children who boat by. One small kid rowed up to us in a tiny aluminum bucket, carrying a python around his neck and begging for money. (Which reminds me, the other night I had python for dinner! Tasted just like chicken - except, way more chewy.)

The visuals are really fascinating, but so truly weird. It's hard to understand how these people live like this and how they deal with monsoon seasons. They apparently eat the fish from the lake, which is the most nauseating thought ever considering the lake is dirt brown and the home of the sewage dumps.

We caught a gorgeous sunset on the water's horizon and headed back to town to catch the last evening with the volunteers.

The villages at night have a very different vibe than they do during the day. It's amazing to ride the tuk-tuk at night and stare into people's homes. Most of the time, there is one overhead light that lights up the whole shack or a TV that people are sitting around. Cambodians don't close their front doors, if they even have one, and so it's hard to help being a voyeur into these people's lives. I kept wanting to get off the tuk-tuk to go into homes to photograph them, but unfortunately that would only be possible if I were invisible. People just seem to be killing time in their homes at night. Sometimes mothers are just sitting on the floor or their straw beds with a baby, staring outside. Others, a kid may be trying to pick out lice from a grandmother's hair. Men sitting around playing cards or children trying to occupy themselves with whatever toys they can find. Women could be cleaning up their shops, cooking or washing. It's so intriguing to see the diversity of culture and how people live here, especially in the small villages, which are of course nothing like the town center.

A huge group of us went for some dinner and then back to New Star for some crazy karaoke, which was a total blast!!

And now, off to Vietnam in a few hours!

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