I am not going to repeat myself and say another amazing day in Cambodia, but it was. The last time I will be saying that until May. Was picked up at 9 AM by Sarrak and taken to the PEPY office. All the scholarship children were waiting there for me. Imagine they were all there on a Sunday morning for me and a meeting after that. Had about a 1 hour talk with them. I showed them where I am going tomorrow on a globe and what the weather is like there. I explained to them that I have been to countries where it is light 24 hours a day. They asked me to explain and I told them that all the countries north of the equator have the reverse seasons than the countries south of the equator. So when I was in Iceland two years ago in late May, it was light all the time. They wanted to see pictures of that and tomorrow I will show them. I told them that I will be going to the South Pole in December and it will never get dark and it will be Spring since the South Pole is south of the equator. They loved talking about the various countries and weather. Tomorrow I will be showing them the winter clothes I have packed for Mongolia. I brought with me a winter coat, snow and ski pants, long johns, hats and gloves. They have never seen clothes like this and am so excited to see and touch these clothes. They wanted me to talk again about my dog sledding trip. They really loved hearing about the Alpha dog and the team of dogs again. Pictures so bring out what I am talking to them about. They can relate to these experiences and see what I see. What a media of expression and learning if used in this way. After about one hour, I was forced to stop talking and myself, Sarrak, Kimsru, Chhunnay, Channa, Sophia and a new person, Jake went to the floating villages and Tonle Sap Lake. Jake is another Fulbright Scholar who graduated from a small college named Washington Jefferson College and is studying Tonle Sap Lake and the fishing industry around and in the lake. We had some interesting and educational conversations. I had previously been to Tonle Sap Lake with Olivia in 2012. Then we took a long boat to some floating villages. Olivia still comments about her experience there and the fish farms she saw. In 2015 I went with Kimline to the floating villages except it was the dry season and the villages were not floating. Now it is the end of the wet season so that the rivers and lake were all acting the way they should and all the villages were floating. Water is very important to the people of Cambodia. The reason why the Khmer people built Angkor Wat 1000 years ago where it was built is due to the closeness to Tonle Sap Lake. Tonle Sap Lake is the largest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia. There are lots of moats around Angkor Wat. The Khmer engineers, when they built and planned Angkor Wat, had the builders put various levels of sand in the moats so that the water would constantly move and circulate around the complex. We drove around one hour over some dirt roads and rural villages to a small dock and all got into a long boat drive by a Khmer boy who looked to be about ten years old. It was so beautiful taking the long boat downstream. The river flows into the Lake. We passed floating villages where people were busy doing their daily activities. I took so many pictures from the boat of life on the Tonle Sap River. It was a cloudy day and perfect for pictures. People were swimming in the water and having a great time. A foreigner should not try to swim here. Besides the risk of snakes, you would probably get very sick from some parasite that your body has never encountered. We then stopped in at a sort of tree house restaurant built on stilts. We took some stairs up to a walkway where there were lots of open air rooms where locals were eating and enjoying themselves. We finally sat down and had lunch. Had some great rice with a whole fish that was cooked perfectly. All local and great. While we were having lunch, the rains came. It poured all throughout lunch and I mean poured. I had never seen rain in Cambodia until this trip. Have always visited during the dry season. The rice patties are so green and lush now. I had only seen them when they were brown and ugly. After we had lunch we then took the long boat into Tonle Sap Lake. Saw so many people swimming and having a great time. Wanted to jump in, but of course resisted. It was then back to the dock and the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap. Went back to the hotel to rest before dinner and walked over to “Gloria Jeans” for a great glass of iced java served the old fashioned way. It was then rest time and taking a long cold shower. At about 5:30 I heard rain coming down in buckets. Kimsru and Sarrak met me for dinner. Kimsru brought me some durian. We all remember what durian is. The fruit that no one loves. Dinner was great and the three of us had long conversations about America and our lives experiences. While we were eating our durian on a table outside and under a tarp, it began to rain even harder and the water started to drip onto us. It was then time to move inside, but we were not allowed to take the durian in with us to finish eating it. Poor durian. So few people love it. Walked back in the rain through flooded streets and alleyways.
It is now time to set you up for the next adventure and an adventure that I will never repeat again except if Olivia wants to. Tomorrow morning I am being picked up at 8:30 AM by Manin and brought to the PEPY office for my final talks with the scholarship students and staff and say our goodbyes. It is then off to Mongolia for two weeks. How do you get from Siem Reap to Mongolia? With difficulty. My flight leaves Siem Reap at 2:55 PM and arrives in Kuala Lumpur at 6:05 PM. At 10 PM I leave Kuala Lumpur and fly to Beijing. Arrive in Beijing at 4:30 on Tuesday. Leave Beijing at 8:30 AM and arrive in Ulan Bator Mongolia at 10:50 AM. Two four hour layovers. I do sleep on airplanes. Mongolia has always been on my bucket list. The people have drawn me there and their way of life. I will be on a photography trip with Andy, Kevin and five other photographers. I am not going to tell you now the amazing places we will going and experiences we will be having. That is for a day by day account. I will tell you that we will be mostly staying with local people in Ger Camps and Tents. Am so excited about this adventure and the photographic opportunities we will be presented with.
Talk to everyone along the way to Mongolia