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