Disclaimer: These are my views and do not reflect the views of the Peace Corps.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Two days ago, I said goodbye to my host family and moved up to Battambang. I traveled for 12 hours and when I arrived, due to a misunderstanding with my new program manager, I came to a place that I won't be able to afford year round. Therefore, I will have to move all of my stuff again, hopefully before the school year starts. The new place isn't so bad, privacy is a bit of an issue. The landlord has a thirteen year old who does not share our American cultural value of privacy (...something about thirteen year old boys here, remember host family #1 in Srang?)

The move was a bit of a nightmare. The first van I was in kept swerving off onto questionable dirt roads as detours to avoid police checkpoints, and as a result we were stuck in the mud for about an hour, and the trip took twice as long. Thankfully, all of my stuff got to my new place (guitar, bike, trunk, 3 boxes, fan, etc) and I was helped by a really nice tuktuk driver named David once I got into the city.

I spent yesterday at the market, outfitting myself for living on my own. Also, I got to meet up with my friend Dave for lunch with his family, which was excellent. Getting myself equipped for living solo has helped me realize how much my host family helped me to get adjusted. Little things like buckets, extension chords, or clothes hangars... I have a mattress now, a stove, a pan, (I cooked pancakes this morning!) I'm starting to get settled here.

Before I left, I finished the well project (which you can help donate to if so inclined) and the ambassador came to see the work the community was doing as they finished up the cement base. Also, Peace Corps helped me to make a copy of "Where there is no doctor" a book that I gave to my friend Sameoun (who helped with the well project) who will be using it to set up satellite health stations in some of the surrounding communities.

I gave my host family a photo album and a big print out a photo we took together and it was hard to say goodbye to them. They were (and are) truly amazing. E.g. my host aunt on the far right called me my first day in Battambang to make sure I was alright. It's around ten hours to make a trip to see them, but I'll definitely be making the trip when I can in this next year.

(All the fam. minus Gorah who was out watching the cows.)

Here's another sunset that I captured from my room on my second to last night:

(This captures about 30% of the beauty.)

(Nothing but sweet sweet di-hydrogen monoxide.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Speaker Project and Other Updates

I think I can safely say I've been back in Cambodia for about two weeks. The weather has been the most difficult readjustment for me so far, although I do miss using the parents' espresso machine in the mornings...

After surviving the 20 odd hours in coach to get back, I ran into my friend Che at one of the hotels we frequent and so had a friend to hang out with less than an hour after getting off the plane. I stayed in Phnom Penh the next couple of days to recover from the jet lag and do some recordings for Emily and Lauren's Harry Potter audiobook project (I am proud to say that I was chosen for the role of Harry). We made friends with a somewhat-feral cat in an undisclosed location and played a little game of cat and mouse:

(Cat shown with mouse and Mira)

Although obnoxiously jetlagged, I was quite content, aided by the fact that Dave lets me use the guitar he keeps in the office, that I had a costco pack of nutella handy, and that I was about a three minute walk from a really good bread shop.

(I swear it's the little things...)

After Phnom Penh, I headed back to Srang in order to try and wrap up a speaker project and finish my well project. There's been lots of back and forth with the well company, but they've finally agreed to come check out the spot on Saturday.

I've had more luck with my speaker project. I mentioned it earlier, but just a quick recap: over the course of the school year I put together a lot of worksheets to go with various pop songs, took a bunch of other ones from past volunteers. printed them all out, put them in a notebook, and bought a speaker for one of my teachers to use in his private classes. I finally was able to meet up with Vanna (the teacher) and give him "the stuff". Also, a few days later, another teacher came by to get me to help him figure out the words to a song. The singer had a super accent and I was stumped so I had to look it up online. I heard "So please don't drink at love's bazaar" it ended up being "So please don't think my love's bizarre." I liked my version, so it goes. Oh, and the point: I gave him a memory card with all of the songs, documents, and videos on it too, so now he's got access to the same stuff that Vanna has and I know that he'll be using them in the classroom as well. Mission Accomplished!

(Special thanks to Uncle Dale and the Jones' for making this happen!)