Thursday, September 21, 2006

Funny things have happened

I'm writing from Laos as I just arrived yesterday from an overnight train ride from the city of angels. I have really enjoyed my last two days shopping in the big city, riding the sky trains and underground, buying delicious street food. It's like a little slice of Asian heaven.

My first night in the city there was a military coup. I slept through it, which says a lot about it since it really wasn't a disasterous event. That still didn't stop me from setting out to wander the Tesco Lotus superstore. Aisles of food and clothes and home products at inexpensive prices. The Old Market just doesn't compare.

I've been buying things for myself, too, which doesn't usually happen. More often I'm on the lookout for things other people might want, so it was delightful to get things for myself that I wouldn't ordinarily do. I still managed to find things for others.

Things for myself:
a comic strip inspired purse/bag
two new pairs of sandals (almost 3, but I figured that was going overboard)
underwear (not really exciting, I know, but I don't usually find good ones here)
pretty smelling handmade soaps: coconut and rose
a new digital battery charger
towels (big, soft and fluffy)
Nescafe 3 in 1 mild coffee (just to see what is different between mild and regular)

Things for others:
handmade soap
Best of Loso VCD
white ovaltine

Still on the list is:
umbrellas for Umbrella Tours
a toaster oven
more food products unavailable in Camboland, or cheaper in BKK
and whatever else I find that suits my fancy and budget

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Driven to dance

The end of term staff party was quite the doozy, or shall I say "boozy"? It started out with drinks at the director's house: wine (Argentinian and Chilean), beer, gin & tonics and non-alcoholic stuff too. After two hours of downing the juice and putting a spin on things it was time to walk over to the restaurant across the street for some food in our bellies. Isn't that supposed to come before the drinking.

Of course more pitchers of beer adorned the table and were frequently emptied and replaced with topped up jugs. I stuck to bottle water because the two glasses of wine were plenty for me.

After the meal came the karaoke and the dancing. Dancing!? Yes, good ol Cambodian style dancing of twirling the hands and walking in circles with some sort of a rhythm. It was great when it was the group thing, then it started becoming a couples thing. And who do you think asked me to dance? The driver.

This is the same guy who puts my life at peril three days a week. No one else who rides with him has the same reaction. But it always seems that the near misses only happen when I'm in the car. And then to add insult to injury, we often come screaming into the school parking lot just slam on the breaks. The driver seems to get a kick out of watching the students fly out of harms way. One of these days his breaks are going to go out and when he plows into the front office it won't be so funny anymore. I'm thankful for the seatbelt that works because someday, it'll save my life in his car.

So, all that to say, I always thought he had it in for me since his erradic driving seemed aimed at gaining pleasure from my fright. I was extremely surprised when he kept asking me to dance. Nobody else he wanted. There was even an attempt at a western slow dance. Oh well. I guess it's nice to be asked to dance even if it is by a desperate driver.

End of term relief

All results have been given. All reports have been written. Now it's time to sit back and relax and forget about all the troubles and enjoy the upcoming vacation time.

It is always difficult to give out failing results to students. It makes it worse when the try to ask for one more point or to re-take the test. These are generally the students who need to repeat the level in order to practice those skills they lack. Some manage to pass while I know that they will struggle with the next level of English just as much as they did this term.

It's party time. Students who successfully completed Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate and Upper-Intermediate levels will receive certificates today. The best part, however, is the snacks afterwards. Yummy!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

To the Wat I went

Today was a special pagoda day since I will be out of the country during one of Cambodia's biggest family holidays which includes making traditional rice cakes and visiting the pagoda to honor deceased relatives and ancestors.

Today we drove out to the countryside to visit the pagoda where the mother's mother had been buried. It was just us (Mom, Dad, sister, Da, me and an uncle plus some monks). We finished just as the rain came. Glad we had the car.

I wish it hadn't been raining because we passed some lovely pools with water lillies in bloom, 3 different colors no less. Bummer.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Post-birthday reflection

Now, there was no 5-star cake. But, that's ok. Somehow the hotel's new baker did not know how to bake cakes. Can someone explain to me why a 5-star hotel would hire a baker who can't bake a cake?

There were 11 family members from 3 generations in attendance. All sat on the floor in my little one-room flat (approx. 6 sq feet of floor space due to the furniture) to eat BBQ chicken and rice.

It was really enjoyable, though tiring cause I had just had our KIDS classes big presentation and party earlier which really wore me out, but was quite successful. All was finished by 9:30 pm.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

It's my birthday: ho hum

A birthday party is being planned for me, which is somewhat of a surprise because I expected something else. It's really sweet because I thought that there was going to be a different plan. But apparently a cake has been ordered from a 5-star hotel, and drinks are being organized. I don't have to do anything, but clean up my house.

Honestly I'm really not the birthday party kind of person. I don't really need a celebration to acknowledge the anniversary of my entrance into the world, unlike other people I know. But surprises are always appreciated!

Happy Birthday to me on September 12, 2006. As a historical note, I'll be 32 years old.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

An "I told you so" type burglary

This morning I was woken up to the loud noises eminating from the Philippino neighbors across the way. Not unusual considering I knew they were getting ready to leave on holiday. But when the screams of help and police and money/passports stolen, I knew that all was not right.

The all-too-often crime of opportunity took place. A man with a long pole snagged a purse and scored with an envelope with $600. (By the way, that's a HUGE amount of money for a person over here, so the burglar hit at the right time.) However, I don't think this was just a random theft as many window thefts are. Two poles lashed together with wire was used, indicating that this was planned.

It's a very unfortunate event, but a constant reminder that these kinds of burglaries will continue to happen. This is the 3rd or 4th time just in the two years I have lived there. Thankfully I have never been the victim, yet. But I personally warned them of the possibility and frequency of this crime for them to be vigilent. Now they really know.

The good thing is that their passports were not stolen or else it would be bye-bye vacation and visit home for them. They managed to leave per scheduled time at 5:30am. Needless to say I got no more sleep from 3:30am on.

There's really nothing to be done. The police came but, they really can't respond to this besides take a report. (which makes me think who paid for that report and how much it cost for waking up the guy at that time.)