April 4, 2014

Mira Costa School - Cambodia 2014

So we arrived in Cambodia yesterday.
It was late. I think most people went to sleep at like two am, and then we woke up about 5-6 hours later for breakfast.
I believe this was called “sleeping in”.
Some time around nine, we walked to the Royal Palace. And this was actually one of the best and worst parts of the day, surprisingly. Best, as in, this was the first time we were actually seeing and being surrounded by Phnom Penh. There’s color, and tons of bad traffic, and so many interesting people, and- to put it obviously- there’s poverty. There’s something really nice about being swallowed by such a different scene than Hermosa Beach, a different scene where people are poor but not necessarily super sad. There seems to be a lot of love and hope here despite what’s happened to this country and the money issues, but I guess I can’t really be the judge of that, since I’ve only been here one day.
Where was I? Best and worst? Best as in actually being able to see this whole place. Worst, as in, it was hot, and I was carrying a tripod for the camera, and I was wearing a dress, and it was hot.
But whatever. It was fine.
When we got there, the blue flag was up, which meant that the king was actually there at the Royal Palace. I thought that was surprising. Nobody else seemed to.
The Palaces were beautiful, naturally. I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between the palace and the city’s streets.
After that, we walked around and talked about the history of Cambodia a little bit, provided by our guide, Seyha. Seyha translates for us. We’d probably be wandering in Thailand without him.
We got to Daughters Of Cambodia, learned a little bit about the company’s background (DOC is a company located in Phnom Penh with a bunch of boutiques that strive to give Cambodian girls jobs so that they don’t have to turn to sex slavery), ate a fabulous lunch, and then my group interviewed a woman for our video (which is centered directly around sex workers). It was a little rocky in the beginning, with us trying to find a good location and having Seyha and the girls position themselves and get the audio to go to normal and have slight english misunderstanding issues. It smoothed out a little towards the end. The main things taken from that interview was talk about Daughters of Cambodia skills and family support.

Did I say the best part of the day was walking to the Palaces? I actually think that it’s a draw between that and this ride on a…I can’t remember exactly what it’s called… A tuntunk?
A tkuntkun. Or something around that. Like a taxi, or a wagon, but not really. I can’t describe it really well, but basically it’s a small carriage that fits about six people with no horses. You can track one down and have the rider ride you to a certain place.
We were all squished together and all our camera equipment was being a pain and we could smell each other’s sweat and we were yelling at each other to keep your hands in the vehicle so it wouldn’t get chopped off by an incoming bus and it was just really, really fun.
Because you got to see the city. Without walking.
It was fun.
And we went to this arts building, the CLA (Cambodia Living Arts). These great people gave us this cultural experience of performing and telling us history and teaching us to dance and play a two-stringed guitar that dates back to 500 BC.
Everything is lovely.
I’m looking forward to dinner.

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