Friday, December 21, 2012

Hello Kitty Sweet 17 Birthday party

The Invitation in frame (turned backwards so can't be read)

I was invited to a Sweet 17 Hello Kitty party by one of my students. The invitation was given to me in person. It came in a large envelope. When I opened the envelope inside was a black Hello Kitty picture frame with the invitation in the frame. It also came with three small Hello Kitty shaped papers that told the table (Tiramisu) , to be exchanged for a Quickly (treat), and to be exchanged for a thank you gift. On the bottom of the invitation it showed that flowers and stuffed animals were not acceptable but presents and cards were. It also stated there was a dress code of black or soft pink. It was held at the Shangri-La hotel.

I invited one of the expats from the Elementary part of the school as I did not want to be at this party all alone. Since the party was on a Friday night it was hard to get a cab. I was going to call earlier than I did, but then the power went out in the house and so I got behind in getting ready. It took almost an hour of calling before I finally got through to the cab company, either they did not answer, the answered and hung up , or I got a busy signal. I had misread the invitation that it started at 7p.m. when really it started at 6p.m. We did not arrive until 7:30p.m. When we arrived I had the cab driver take us up to the lobby. We found a sign at the entrance stating the party was in the ballroom but we were unsure where that was located. We asked for directions but at first were misdirected. At the counter in the lobby there was a young lady with her back to us that has this beautiful pink evening gown and what looked like a fur stole that was hanging down. We finally found the ballroom but came at in from the wrong way. There were these black curtains set up. We were told by this young man that we were at the entrance but when we went through the gap we came through at where they had been taking pictures (kind of like a prom). It appeared that the picture taking session was over.   

There was a created hallway in front of us. We walked passed an entrance to our left and kept going down the hallway. There were lots of lights hanging down and everything was black and pink and lots of Hello Kitty things everywhere. We passed the Quickly booth, but I didn’t stop there. We walked to the end and there was a large group of people but I was not sure what they were doing, so we turned back around and headed back towards the entrance we passed. Standing in front of the entrance were two young ladies.  They were dressed in these old fashion dresses like the 1800s. They had Hello Kitty heads that they were wearing. We went through the entrance and I handed them my table card. They confirmed I was a teacher and directed us to the right. They lady was dressed in a black outfit with a pink scarf and black Hello Kitty glasses.

Everywhere was black and pink. It was incredible how fancy it was. We were taken to the farthest long table on the right, but the table was all full. I saw several of the local teachers were sitting at this table. In front of the long tables were round tables that had pink and black umbrellas above them. I think those were for the birthday girl’s friends. Since the table we were supposed to sit at was full we were taken to the left side to long table second from the end on the left side. We were seated at the front of the table behind the round tables. In the middle of the room was a empty space that had a pink and black canopy above it. On the left side (our side) at the front was a huge Hello Kitty birthday cake. Around the empty space were just box (footrest) type seating.  There were also several large screens around the room where we could watch the proceedings.  The tables all had really nice dishes on them and there were short and tall flower arrangements.
Trying to get picture of the cake
Not long after we sat down the party really started. So, our timing was actually good. There were two Masters of Ceremonies announcing something but since it was in Indonesian we had no idea what they were saying. One was a man dressed up in a black suit. The other was a man dressed up in a pink sparkly corset type top and short shorts, and hose with a garter belt. He also had a Hello Kitty bow and these high heels on.
 Next, on the stage at the front there was a group of young ladies in Hello Kitty outfits dancing.   A box came out and a guy dressed all in silver, even his face, came out of the box and walked like a robot. The group walked towards the entrance that we had missed to welcome the birthday girl. On the screens the outside of the Shangri-La appeared and a white sports car with a large Hello Kitty face on the hood pulled up to the hotel. Out of the driver’s seat came the birthday girl. She was the one I had seen up at the lobby counter. She was in the beautiful pink evening gown and around her waist she was wearing a Hello Kitty head (made out of something).  Part of her hair or maybe a hair piece that looked like hair was tied in a big bow like Hello Kitty. She made an entrance and the cameras were following her the whole way. She was escorted in by the girls and robot guy. As she was walking down the created hallway a girl in the entourage gave her a bouquet of flowers with a Hello Kitty face in it. She was brought up to the stage and talked some. Then her parents and siblings were brought up on stage and she thanked them for all they had done for her and hoped that everyone enjoyed her party.
After this part I might not have the rest of the events in the correct order because it was such an overwhelming night and it was confusing since it was all done in Indonesian so I remember the events clearly but not necessarily the order. Plus, during all of this we were eating dinner.  Also, in between events there were pictures of the birthday girl up on the screens.
I think the next event that happened was that the birthday girl sang a song to her family and loved ones. Then there was a girl group that sang to the birthday girl. I did not think they were that good. They seemed nervous and couldn’t remember all of the song and dance routine. After that the birthday girl had on another beautiful pink evening gown. Her hair was more normal at that point. She cut the cake and went around and fed people like this little sticks (I think it was cake). I am not sure exactly what it symbolized. She did it to her parents, siblings, (grandparents-maybe) and some other people. People also gave her gifts. She got jewelry, lots of bracelets and a pink Hello Kitty guitar.
After that a young lady sang a song for the birthday girl ( I think it was a favorite song). It was the Carly Rae song “Call Me Maybe” and in the background there was a guy and girl doing like a ballroom routine.  At some point the man dressed as a woman had changed his top to a black corset type top and had a man’s jacket on. I think he was tired. I know earlier he had taken off the high heels and they were back on but he was sitting down.
Then Afgan  Syah Reza, a famous Indonesian singer sang several songs. He sang a Bruno Mars song in English and other songs in Indonesian. He had some of the young ladies come up from the audience and he serenade them and took pictures with them. The birthday girl came out on stage during the last song in a different outfit. This one was a slightly above knee length black top and pink skirt sparkly dress and really high heels.  After he was done and the Masters of Cermonies duo was talking to him, the man dressed as a woman kept trying to kiss Afgan on the cheeks. He did not seem too thrilled about that and eventually was covering his cheeks with his hands. 
After that there was something with her fellow classmates. During a song that, I think the girl group sang, they came out with bows in their hair and carrying one of the guys and he had a large bag with a gift in it for her. Then they were all given roses to give to her and one guy got down on his knee to give it to her. Then they were calling different guys up and trying to get them to say something in Indonesian and at one point the guys had on these shorts with suspenders and bras on. At this point not knowing what they were saying made it really confusing. After that dancing started and we decided that was our cue to leave.  It was almost 10p.m. by that time and were both hungry as we didn’t care for the food and on overload.
Thank you gift-Hello Kitty Metal tree
It reminded me very much of the MTV show “My Sweet Sixteen” that I saw one day when I was home sick and they had a marathon on. It was just incredible how elaborate this party and those parties are. I can’t even fathom the cost. It makes me wonder what the wedding will be like. How does one top these birthday parties? In the MTV show they were trying to outdo each other and have their party be the most talked about party of the year. I don’t know if that is the case in Indonesia. For me, it is something I will remember the rest of my life, but it is not something that I have ever been to before and will probably never go to again. I don’t know what it is like for people who get invited to these all the time and probably go to several over the course of their lives.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


I followed a link on twitter today that led me to TED Talks and the talk, "Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts". I have known for years that I am an introvert. I was also extremely shy when I was younger. Although, I have outgrown my shyness for the most part and only a small part clings to me in certain new situations I am still very much introverted. I identified with several things in this talk. My Dad and I are avid readers but my Mom and brother are not. To me growing up I could read in the solace of my own room or in a busy room filled with people doing various activities. In college, one of my roommates, who is now my best friend and I spent lots of time reading in the same room. There was a period of time where we weren't getting along for some reason (I don't recall anymore why) but I do recall feeling lonely. We were in an apartment at that stage instead of a dorm room. Even though she was in the apartment she would isolate herself in her room while I sat out in the living room hoping she would come out to read. I didn't care if we didn't talk. I just wanted the presence of her there. Eventually things worked themselves out. I have even enjoyed hanging out with that special guy reading while he played his video games. While I don't play video games I can understand being sucked into another world and so to me it is fine to do our different activities together sometimes. I know in college it was a struggle for me when I was in the dorm room because it was just one small room that I had to share with a person all the time. I enjoyed when my roommates when home. Sometimes if they were gone and I was alone in the room I wouldn't answer the door. I didn't want to accept whatever invitation they had and didn't have a good reason for saying no, other than I wanted to be alone. I also remember in college and even now sometimes when I just want to stay home and enjoy a nice, quiet evening a voice in my head ( from different people who have said this to me over and over) that networking is important and you don't meet people being at home and so I need to go out to whatever event that it is, even when I really don't want to and force myself to say hi to all these people I don't know and get to know them, blah, blah, blah. I do it and sometimes I enjoy myself but most of the time I am glad when the night is over and I am back to my solitude. I will also admit that most of the time I greatly admire extroverts and how they are just go, go, go all the time. I wish I could be more outgoing like them.

I do see that many schools are set up for more extroverts. I know even in my own classroom in order to try to meet the different learning styles there is always a conflict. If we do several group activities the introverts aren't happy because they want to work alone. Sometimes I do let them work alone , as I understand being an introvert, but sometimes I do want them to learn how to work with other people, because we do have to do that. Other times if we have several solitary activities that we are doing the extroverts complain that we don't do enough activities together. I think it is important though to learn to work by oneself as not everything in life can be a group activity. In the US I had my own classrooms and I was able to be in their during my planning period, so it helped me get through the day by having that alone time to work. In overseas schools that I have taught in I have had to share either classrooms with my desk in the classroom, so that during my planning there are other classes taking place in that room (there was no where else to go) and I have worked in a school where all the teachers of the same faculty had their desks all in the same room. So, in both cases there is really no escape during the day to have solitude and think or really get in the zone and get things done. I think it is also more draining not having any real down time during the day. It is definitely still an adjustment that I am working on finding a way to deal with and make it work for me. I have always struggled with participating as a student and now chaperoning as an adult, school trips, because there is really no down time other than some sleeping. If it is for a vacation I like to travel alone, but if I travel with others I have to make sure I carve out time just for myself or I start to get grumpy. It works best if I travel with someone similar to me, so we both take our own alone time. It can be challenge to travel with an extrovert who wants to be with me at all times.

I even feel with social networking that it really can be more for extroverted people. There are many things I create and think that I don't share. I keep those things to myself just like I did before I started Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogging. I create for myself and sometimes I will share but a vast amount I still keep to myself. It is a struggle because there are tons of great discussions on twitter and thought provoking tweets. There are lots of great blogs out there too. I want to share so that people will know that I am trying to contribute and not just take, take, take, but it can be very hard. Some of it may be shyness creeping back up since this is new to me and I wonder what people think when I tweet something or if I were to share one of the songs I have on Soundcloud or pictures that I have taken and edited on Instagram. I know that several of the people I follow are extroverts and they have also been doing things much longer than I have, so they are comfortable in their online skin. With online people all around the world can see my things that I post on twitter, instagram, my blogs. How much do I want people who have never met me to know? How much do I want those people that I have met to know? There are somethings that I only want the people closed to me to know. Some of it has, of course, to do with trust. How much do I trust someone whom I have never met with my poetry, if I were to put it online? On the other hand, I write my poetry for me, about very personal things, and don't want other people's opinions or validation on it.
I think living overseas being an introvert can be different than back home. In one country I was really the only expat at school and  the other expat women in the town didn't work, so it was easier to have lots of solitude. In another country there is a larger expat community at school and there are a few international schools, so there is more pressure to be social. At first that was exciting after two years of lots of solitude, but now I am worn out. I think with just small expat communities, in my experience,  it can be harder to find another introvert to just hang out reading together with. I also feel I have to be more outgoing to bridge that gap, so that I can learn about a different culture, which is part of why I moved overseas. If I stuck mostly to myself I wouldn't learn much about the country I am living in and the people or their culture.
So, it is nice to know that I am not the only one who enjoys reading in the same room as someone else who is reading. Or who pushed herself to go out to socialize and network when I would really rather be at home experiment with a new recipe. Or that many work environments are set up more for the extrovert. I don't know if others find that social networking seems more geared for the extrovert, but there might be someone out there that does. The main thing for me is reflecting. This talk made me reflect, which is something I do quite often; however, in this case, I am going to share my reflections because there may be other introverts out there that feel this way and will be glad to know that they aren't the only one.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cambodia part 3, Siem Reap


The next day instead of the big tour of temples we hiked up to a water fall and then went to the Ta Phrom Jungle temple that was made famous in the "Tomb Raider" movie.  We were not actually expecting a hike to this waterfall. I only had sandals to wear since I wasn't expecting to do anything where I would need to wear tennis shoes. We thought it would be a short easy walk. Instead it was a long hike and there really wasn't much of a trail. There were lots of rocks and huge boulders. It had rained the night before so it was slick. A police officer led us so that we would not wonder off the trail and go into parts that were off limits because they still weren't sure if they were all clear of landmines. When we finally got to the water fall it was not that impressive and we had been told the day before we would swim, but there was definitely not enough way to swim. We were only there for about 5 minutes to take a few pictures and then he led us back down. On the way back down I trip and hit my left big toe and cracked the nail way down so it was bleeding. I luckily had a band aid and got it wrapped up. Then a few minutes later I slipped and hurt my little toe on the same foot.

When we got down we had lunch before going on to Ta Phrom jumgle temple. I had no idea until later on that it was the temple made famous by the movie "Tomb Raider". It was a really cool temple. I think my very favorite one. The trees were incredible. We ate at a Mexican restaurant, Viva, for dinner. It was wonderful. Since I had not eaten Mexican food for over two years it was a great change from Asian food.

The next day we went to see a Floating village and took a boat ride on Lake Tonle Sap. These villages do not use stilts for the houses. The houses are actually floating. During different times of the year they are tied so they don't float too far. They are moved up the river and then onto dry land during the dry season and then moved down the river and to the lake when it is rainy season. They lose lots of people every year during storms. Lots of times it is little children because they are left behind when the parents go to work fishing. We were told about a school for students that don't have parents anymore. We had seen a grocery store so when we were ask to buy food for the students we thought it was going to be that grocery store. Instead we were taken to a place that had three items: rice, instant noodles and water. The rice was very expensive, and we didn't approve of the instant noodles so we went with the bottles of water. We took the bottles of water to the school and gave it to the children. We interacted with them some. They were on a break and so they were playing games. We were told that the teacher works for free but gets room and board. While we were there another group of people came with instant noodles.  

After that we went to a Silk Farm. We saw the whole process of how silk is made. I had no idea, so it was very interesting to see. Followed by a Spice factory. It started pouring rain on the way from the silk farm to spice factory. We did a shortened tour of the spice factory since it was pouring rain, although, we did have umbrellas they gave us to use. We saw enough and got enough explanation to understand how it worked. They make soap, candles, spices for food and incense.  We had a late lunch at the Bengal Tiger. We had dinner at The Warehouse that was across the street from Viva. The food was ok. We went and watched the traditional dance on the top floor of another building.

Our last day we just kind of hung out at the hotel. We slept in and then I stayed in the room for awhile and read while Sally went to the pool and sunbathed for awhile. When I got out to the pool it decided to start raining, so once it took a break we went to a market and did lots of shopping for gifts. We had a late lunch at a restaurant. We gave a young girl some of our lunch because the portions were huge and she was hungry. I don't know if she really got to eat it because a few minutes after we had the restaurant people box it up I saw her over by the kitchen. I wondered if they made her give it back. After we left we bumped into her a few minutes later at another place and she was not carrying the food. It poured that night so we just ate dinner and watched a puppet and then dance show at our little boutique hotel, the Alliance Cafe. 

The next day we rode the bus back to Phnom Penh. When we arrived we checked into our hotel and then went for a walk. We got a last foot massage and pedicure. Then we went and found a place for dinner. After that we went to a bar that had some local musicians that were performing for open mike night. 


Camping Trip with year 10

On October 15th we left a little after 8am to go to Karanggongso beach. On the way there it started pouring rain. We stopped not far from the camp site and had lunch at a restaurant where the seating was on the floor. When we got to the mountain it was still pouring rain. It was hard to go over the mountain on the narrow roads in our big bus. When we got to the beach it was not raining. They had already brought our bags down and so it was easy to get them to our tents. I have a tent to myself as all of the teachers had their own tent. The tents are very close together. Well my mattress was one I had to blow up. It is not very wide or very thick. About the time it was time for bed I got a horrible stomach ache. I got sick several times. We only have 3 toilets at the site so I had to wait my turn. One of the teachers gave me 3 different medicines but each time I vomited. Finally finished and decided to lay down. I think it was from the tempeh. It was the second time I have gotten sick from it, so I think I am no longer going to eat it. My tent sloped so I kept sliding down because the sleeping bag and mattress were out of slick materials. The mosquito stuff I bought did not work well so I got 2 bites on my ankle. It started pouring rain about midnight. My tent didn't close all the way so I had a puddle in the bottom and it dripped a in the middle on me. My pillow got wet. The students started running around since their tents were also leaking. About 3a.m. they were finally allowed to sleep in the main tents so that we could get some sleep. We had to get up at 5:30a.m. the next morning.

Since I was sick the first night then the next morning I opted out of the trekking. They had to go through water to climb some steep rocks to get to the trail. I just hung out and wrote. I bought a notebook as I did not think I would have time to read and did not bring a book. After lunch I was with the group building sandcastles first and then going to learn about fish netting. Then I came back and watched the other group build castles and swim. After that I supervised dinner. After dinner they had fun and games. They were supposed to have a night walk, but the ocean rose so the waves came all the way up and flooded some tents. We had to postpone the night walk so that they could move those tents.

Then in the middle of the night it started pouring and my tent leaked even worse. So I woke up. I wanted to shower and put on dry clothes but the shower was not open. The cooking tent had huge puddles and water on everything. So we had to do all the cooking on the teacher's cook stove. The water rose again and got close to the two big tents. I was cold, wet, had a headache and my eyes hurt. They made tempeh again so I just had rice. The morning activity was sailing & first aid so I stayed behind. The afternoon was paintball & sea tubbing. I did sea tubbing & had lots of fun.  That night we did the rescheduled night walk. The teachers were spread out along the path so that we could make sure the students kept to the path and for those students that were scared it was a comfort to them. I have gotten so many mozzie bites even with repellent I hope I do not get dengue.

I finally slept well last night. This morning the students got up and did aerobics. They were supposed to take turns leading but most just stood there. Today is community & service. We left late. They should have skipped aerobics and started cooking since we are limited on toilets and showers. We only have 4 toilets. The number of showers is ok. The students used too much water so they shut it off for awhile to teach them a lesson. The rest of the time the toilets were locked and only one could be open at night. In order to use it the keys have to be tracked down and sometimes there is a long wait if there is someone using it. We had to make several trips in the two trucks that were available to us.  When we arrived at the school some students screamed when they saw me while others giggled. I went with my group and sat at the back of the room. They presented in Indonesian since it was a local school. After we got done we went back for lunch. After lunch they taught the students to smoke fish and then did team building activities. In the evening the students got ready for their team dance performances for the camp fire. When it was time for the camp fire it started sprinkling, so we went into the main tent and the students got more time to practice. They shut all the flaps so it got really hot in there with everyone inside. Eventually it quit so we were able to go back out and do the camp fire dance and ceremony. The students were, of course, all excited, so it took them a long time to settle down after we finished up. The next morning we got up early and got ready and finished packing. The students had to go around and pick up all the trash. After that was a closing ceremony and then we left. On the way back we just stopped and picked up lunch boxes and kept going. It took us longer to get back than to get there. We were all ready to be back and ready for our own houses and everything that comes with them.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My trip to Seoul, South Korea

The first week of October was our end of term break. I was going to go by myself. I had wanted my mom to come visit me in Indonesia, but our camp week for school had been moved to after the break so it did not work out since it takes four days to get here and one week would not be enough time. It turned out that it was only a one day journey to Seoul and so my mom was able to meet me there. We had a great time together. I arrived on Sunday September 30th in the morning. My Mom had gotten there the day before so she could adjust a little for the time difference. When I walked into the hotel she was waiting for me downstairs to greet me. When went up to the room and visited awhile before I showered and changed. We ate in the deli at the hotel. Then we took a walk around the block to get some fresh air. My mom was still feeling tired and was feeling the beginning of a cold coming, so we just had dinner in our room that evening.

War Memorial Museum
On Monday we went to the War Memorial Museum. It was a holiday so many places were closed. We really enjoyed learning more about the history of Korea. Mom wasn't feeling well, so after that we caught a cab back to the hotel. I finally found a pharmacy that evening that was open and I was able to get my mom some cold medicine. I was looking for a place to get the passcodes for wifi access since they don't have SIM cards to use in cell phones or Ipads when a person is traveling. I came across this Olleh wifi information when at the museum. The information said that it could be purchased at any of selected stores and I could not find any of those stores that had it.

Changdeokgung Palace (one of the buildings)
On Tuesday Mom didn't feel well in the morning. We went to Changdeokgung Palace and the secret garden. My parents had been recommended this secret garden as incredible by someone that they had talked with. It was ok, but not what we expected. Some of it may be that we saw it in the fall so there were not tons of flowers like the person described. It was also a large group we had to go with as they require that to tour the garden a person goes on a guided tour. We went to Insadong market. There were lots of cool shops and I got some great gifts that I sent home with mom for friends and family. I wanted to also go to Jogyesa temple but somehow missed it. Saw the sign and turned off on correct road and then saw no temple or additional signage. Ate at Bibimbab, one of many restaurants in the mall connected to our hotel, for dinner; they had dishes also listed in English. It was ok. 

Part of Secret Garden

On Wednesday we went to the National Folk Museum of Korea and Gyeongbokgung Palace which was huge and nicer than Tuesday's palace. The National Folk Museum was very interesting. We learned about the culture and people of South Korea. I always enjoy learning about other cultures. It is part of the reason I am living overseas and traveling to other countries. Went back to Insadong. Still couldn't find Jogyesa temple but saw great little shops and galleries and got some gifts.

National Folk Museum

Girls in Traditional costumes taking pictures with Samsung products

Gyeongbokgung Palace (one of the buildings)

On Thursday we went to Myeong- dong area, Myeong-dong Cathedral,  Namdaemun market, and Cheonggyecheon Stream. We weren't really excited about the two markets. There was not anything that we saw that we would buy. Lots of it was very cheap stuff and cheaply made. Nothing was unique to Korea or Seoul.

Myeong-dong Cathedral
 We saw a show - acrobatic at the Seoul Festival. There was a guy from Spain. He had a pole and a four straps going from the pole that he had four guys volunteer to hold tight so that he could do his routine and climb up the pole and do tricks from it. I was interesting to watch. Cheonggyecheon Stream is set down below street level. It is a couple miles long. We walked down most of it but as we got farther along it was the older part and was not in as good of upkeep as the more recent part. There were lots of people that were walking along. There were some people in the river doing some sort of photo shoot. There was a wishing well and two waterfalls. Saw a stage set up for some concert. According to the cab driver it is Psy- Some dude and something about Gangnam style.

Namdaemun market

Cheonggyecheon Stream

A presentation at the base of Seoul Tower

One of many of the scenes at the Teddy Bear museum

Friday was our last day in Seoul. We went to World Jewelry museum. The museum of the jewelry was a lady's private collection that she had collected over the years of jewelry from different people and cultures over several hundred of years. The museum is not really well known. It is not well advertised because it is a private museum, so they cannot do any advertising in government museum. We saw part of Bukchon village as the World Jewelry museum was on the outskirts of the village. Couldn't find Hanbok museum. It was supposed to be outside of the gate of the palace we had seen the day before but since I could not access the Internet I was not able to look up the directions again. Also, went to Seoul Tower and Teddy Bear museum. The Teddy Bear museum has the history of Seoul shown through Teddy Bears. I thought it was a pretty clever way to teach about the history of Seoul and help even get young children interested.

Seoul Tower
 I had to get up early Saturday morning as I had a pretty early flight back. I left my mom in the hotel since her flight was not until early evening. It was a great trip and nice to see her after such a long time since I last saw her. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My 32nd Birthday in Indonesia

The group at my birthday dinner

I had a wonderful birthday this year. I continued the tradition of celebrating a birthday in my 30's in another country. 30 was Malaysia, 31 was Singapore, and 32 Indonesia.

It was a normal school day, but after school we had our normal Tuesday professional development. The tradition here is that the birthday person brings his/her team treats. I am on several teams so in order to solve that problem I made treats for all of the high school staff about 70 people. I made 5 pans of this dessert that I made. It was an alternative/experiment of another dessert I know of because they did not have all the ingredients I needed. All the staff thought that it was delicious and were surprised I made it myself because all the other expats have pembantus and the pembantus mostly do the cooking for every day meals and any special occasions.

My dessert at dinner- Crepes Creole

That evening a group of us expats went out to dinner at The Vinette, a French restaurant. I had been taken there when I came for my visit in April and really like the food an atmosphere. It was a wonderful dinner. I later learned that later that the tradition is that people chip in for a few gifts for the birthday person and the birthday person's dinner.

I got two pashmina shawls, and a little thing with a puppy on it for my seat belt so it doesn't cut my neck since it is not adjustable.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cambodia part 2 Siem reap

The next day we had to get up early to catch the bus to Siem Reap. It was a six hour bus journey. I saw lots of wonderful and sad sights along the way. We got into Siem Reap late afternoon. Got checked into the Siem Reap hostel. It was very nice. It even had a swimming pool. Decided to go for a swim and then went out for dinner at Molly Malone's an Irish restaurant. Then went to the night market. 
Angkor Wat
The next morning got up early as we had a tuk tuk driver provided by the Siem Reap hostel for the small tour. The first stop was Angkor Wat. It was really incredible and huge, much bigger than one can tell from post cards. There were guides out in the front and I declined getting a guide, but I bought a book that he was selling for $30USD on several temples. As we were starting our journey in this young college age man gave us some tips on places that would make good photos. He ended up giving us and unofficial tour, mostly with lots of spots for goof photos and only some information. We ran into this girl that road the same bus as we did and ate lunch with us. So she also tagged along for awhile. 

In front building looking out back towards another- Angkor Wat
When we got to the inner most sanctuary part the guy could not go any farther, so we gave him a tip and continued on. It was incredibly hot and I was dripping with sweat. The line was not too long to go to the top. The wooden stairs that were placed over the stone steps were very steep and the black metal railing was very hot to hold on to, but that made me feel more comfortable. 
The steep stairs at Angkor Wat
It was pretty crowded up at the top. People were not allowed to stay up there for too long because others wanted to come up. I got some great pictures looking out over the the land and the front part of Angkor Wat. It was pretty scary to go back down the steps. 

One of the towers up top at Angkor Wat
I was glad when I got to the bottom. After that we headed out. It was pretty peaceful there even though there was a crowd as soon as we got away from the back building and were walking along the trail to the front building there was tons of stalls with women crying their wares. It kind of ruined the mood. We got some water and went to the restroom before heading out and back to our tuk tuk. 

Eskimo Kisses
After that we went to Angkor Thom. It is actually an ancient city with several temples. It took us several hours to tour the different temples. It was getting hotter and hotter. There were two other temples where I could have climbed up the steep steps to the top, but I was tired but then and didn't have the energy to go up them. One of the temples had these really cool faces. I have one photo of myself where I am standing in a window opening and there is one of the faces facing to the left and I am turned facing the right. It is shot so that it looks like I am touching noses with the statue face. They called the pose "Eskimo kisses". Before going to the last temple we stopped and had a late lunch. Again there were lots of women crying their wares. On the way to the last temple that was a smaller one we past by a Buddhist temple.

There was a ceremony, of some sort, going on. There was what looked like a family sitting on the steps with their hands in prayer posture. A monk, facing backwards, was chanting something and they were responding. Every couple seconds he was throwing water over his shoulder onto the people. On the way back from the temple the ceremony was over and the people had left. After that we had one more temple on what was called the small tour, but it was late in the afternoon and we were so hot and sweaty, so we decided to call it a day. We went back and had a swim and then went out for dinner. After that we headed to the night market and got foot massages.
To be continued....
Pool at Siem Reap hostel 

Cambodia part 1 Phnom Penh

Memorial at Killing Fields
We left Surabaya at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, August  16th. We flew from there to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Air Asia does not have the ability to transfer there, so when we got off the plane we had to go up and go through immigration, go down and get our bags and go through security. Then out of the airport down a could hundred yards go back in, screen our bags and check the Air Asia counter again. Decided to have lunch before going back though immigration, security, and back down to the same area we entered the airport. We ended up cutting it a little close since the process took longer than we thought it would. Good thing Air Asia never leaves on time (even when they bump the flight to an earlier time).
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Arrived at Phnom Penh around 5 p.m. something and got checked into the room at the Top Banana. After that, went for a walk around the area. The hostel rooms did not come with towels. Luckily there was a store close by that sold towels. Had dinner at Anise hotel and it was delicious. There was a guy playing like a xylophone. On the walk saw tons of massage places, so after dinner went and had a foot massage. It was great. It was 90 minutes for $8.00USD, so inexpensive. After that called it a night and went back to the room. 

Wat Phnom

The next morning we got up and had breakfast at a cafĂ© across the street. There were tons of tuk tuk drivers and they all wanted business.  They kind of bugged us during breakfast trying to secure who we was going to use. After breakfast we negotiated with a few tuk tuk drivers for the whole day. First stop was out of Phnom Penh at the Killing Fields. The ride out there was very nice, but tuk tuks don’t go very fast, so it takes quite awhile to get places. I did get to see lots of sights. Lots of little kids running around naked, people in their houses, shops, etc. When we got to the Killing Fields we got electronic tour guides. That way we could go along the path and stops at our own pace and listen to what we wanted to listen to.  It was very sad to hear the story of Pol Pot and how he killed people. I saw some mass graves and a killing tree that they used to bash babies’ heads against. There are still bones and teeth that are coming up from the ground when it rains. At the end of the tour is a huge monument. 

Royal Palace

Inside it is filled with skulls from many of the people who were killed at these fields. It was so sad and depressing. After that we went back into town to the Tuol Sleng Genocide museum and prison. It was also part of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime. I met one of the survivors. He was selling a book that had his story in it. I had my picture taken with him. I naturally wanted to smile since I do that when having my picture taken, but it was so sad about what happened to him even if he did survive. After that we decided to go to the Royal Palace. It was very hot and it is very similar to the Royal Palace that I saw in Bangkok, so I did not spend as much time there. After that I went back to the Top Banana and had a late lunch. After that I went to the Night Market. It was raining at that time. It was unexciting and I did not see anything that I wanted to buy, so went and had another foot massage before returning to the Top Banana for the night.
Royal Palace