So its Friday night at 9:20 PM in rainy Siem Reap. When I woke up in the morning I expected to see major flooding in the streets and all over. Low and behold, it looked like a torrential downpour had never happened. The streets were dry and it looked as if a torrential downpour for over four straight never happened. Where did all the water go? I don’t know. Beats me.
First I need to tell everyone a “Larry” story. Yesterday I had left my iPad with the front desk so that the hotel computer guy could figure out why I could not log onto my website. When returned, at about 5:30 PM, the manager of the hotel greeted us and told me that he had taken personal charge of fixing my computer problem. He asked me what I was doing in Cambodia. I told him that I was involved with a local NGO and then proceeded to tell him the whole history of my nine trips and what I do in Cambodia and why I keep coming back. He told me to wait and he then went to the front desk. He told me that he would like to switch my room to a suite to offer his hospitality and gratitude for the work I do in his country. I told him that was not necessary, but he insisted. I told him that Zayaa was with me and he told me that tomorrow two suites would be available and that we should pack before we leave in the morning and he would put our luggage in the suites. I could tell you that the suite is huge. You could probably fit at least 6 people in here with room to spare. He told me that he would like to reach out to Pepy and see if Pepy could help him with his own scholarship program that he had just started. My gift of gab landed me into a beautiful suite and hopefully a good contact for Pepy.
Onto today. We stayed at the Learning center all day. We met with the first year scholarship students for almost the whole day. We had previously introduced ourselves briefly. Again I put a chair in the middle of the room and proceeded to tell them who I was, why I am here and gave them a brief description of my large family. Most of them had met my wife, Olivia, when she visited Cambodia in February. Their English was pretty good, but Sarrak acted as my favorite translator. We eventually got around to Mongolia and I introduced Zayaa. Now it was time to show them pictures. We slowly went through “Eagle Hunters” and then onto “The Gobi”. They were very interested in how the people of Mongolia live. I showed them pictures of the Yert’s I lived in and how they are constructed and what they inside looks like. Zayaa then took center stage. She told them that she was twenty four and has almost received her Masters. She speaks six languages and she told them what it was like growing up in Mongolia and staying in school. Zayaa has really adapted to Cambodia and she sees and feels the beauty in the people just like I have. I am so glad that she has joined me for this trip. It was then onto Antartica. I showed them a map of the world and where Antartica is and how to get there. I told them about the dreaded “Drake Passage” and brought up a youtube video. I watched as they saw boats rock up and down and get twisted sideways. I described to them what it felt like being on a boat going through “The Drake” and told them that I would never do this again. I explained to them how many boats had perished going around Cape Horn and through “The Drake”. I also told them that the Panama Canal was built so that boats did not have to go around Cape Horn and through “The Drake”. I then brought up a youtube video on the Panama Canal. They saw boats being lifted through the locks of the canal. It was then onto pictures and they were amazed by Antartica. They could not believe that it never got dark and that it was summer in December. I drew a round circle on the board and then cut it in half with the equator. I described to them the opposites of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and that the reason why Cambodia is always warm is that it is near the equator. They loved the penguins, seals and whales. I told them that I told a seal I was sorry that I woke him up from a deep sleep in the sun. It was now lunch and I told them I had two more stories for them and a movie after lunch.
Sarrak, Konnitha, Zayaa, Kimsru and myself all walked to a nice Khmer restaurant for lunch. I had a delicious Mango salad and some fresh spring rolls (Not fried).
It was back to the Learning Center and an afternoon of more interaction. I first showed them what an oovoo looks like in Mongolia. An oovoo is a big pile of rocks with prayer flags that the Mongolian people walk around and pray. They are found everywhere in Mongolia.
It was then time to tell them one final adventure before the movie. Last year, all the scholarship students loved my story of when I went dog sledding. They loved to hear how you try to convince the lead dog that you are the boss. I told them the story of how I went dog sledding and endured the hash weather. They loved seeing the pictures of the Northern Lights and were amazed by the “Moon Dog”.
It was now onto the movie. The movie is named “The Eagle Huntress”. It is about a young girl who is trained by her father to become a champion eagle hunter. I had met her, her father and family in Mongolia and taken pictures of them in action. The movie shows how the girl went up into the mountains to capture a baby eagle and train that eagle. The prejudices of the other eagle hunters, all men, was shown as well. The girl competes in the largest Eagle Hunters Festival in Mongolia and wins. The students really enjoyed the movie and loved seeing how the baby eagle is captured and how it is trained. I strongly suggest watching this movie. The movie was well received in the Western World and won numerous awards.
It was now about 5 PM and I was exhausted from talking all day, but also felt so content that I had shown the students parts of the world that is so distant for them.
At 7 PM Kimsru and Konnitha picked us up via Tuk Tuk and off we went to meet Sarrak and Kimline. Who is Kimline? Kimline and myself go back to when I first started coming to Cambodia. When the original Pepy office moved from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, I met Kimline. Kimline took over as head accountant. I could honestly tell you that she is one of the greatest accountants I have ever had the privilege of working with. Eventually she trained Konnitha to take her job and she moved up to be Director, a position that Sarrak holds now. Kimline then left Pepy to start her own accounting business and, of course, has been very successful. I never had doubt. We all had such an enjoyable evening talking the night away.
I am about to collapse and need to crawl into my huge bed and go to sleep after a day of doing something that I love to do.
Talk to everyone tomorrow