How come so few have you have reached out to me? Have not heard from most of you. How is everyone? Are we all awake and alive on the other side of the world? How did my day start in “Africa Hot” Cambodia?After I wrote my blog last night, I laid down and the next thing I knew it was 7 AM. Got up and went down for breakfast. Saw a middle age woman sitting by herself and she invited me over to keep her company eating breakfast. She lives in Tasmania. Next fall, I have preliminary plans to go to Tasmania and Australia for the month of October. Olivia will come with me for two weeks and then fly home to let me do my wandering. Told me a lot of great things about Tasmania and got her contact. It was then back to “Gloria Jeans” for some great coffee and conversations with some locals. I could stand outside my hotel all day and take pictures of the people passing by on their motor bikes, Tuk Tuk’s and trucks. A real show, but have no time for that. Got picked up at 9 AM by Manin and off we went to the Pepy office. They drew a big poster welcoming me. I plan on bringing it home. As soon as I arrived at the office, I told the staff that I was mad at them. I told them I have been here for two days and have not had Durian yet. What is Durian? Some of you know what it is, but I will attempt to explain it again. Durian is a local fruit that grows on a tree in many countries of Southeast Asia. The fruit is encased in a thick and hard shell like a coconut. The shell is broken open by someone using a machete and the inside is scooped out. The inside has a semi soft/hard fiber with a big pit in the middle. There is one problem with durian. Durian has a very foul smell. Most westerners do not like it and never eat it. I immediately loved it and have been eating it whenever I come to Southeast Asia. In NY you can buy durian in Chinatown. Once my sons bought me some and Olivia tried to germinate a plant from the seed. The experiment failed. I have been to hotels where there are signs on the doors and lobby saying “No Durian Allowed”. A fruit that only wants to be loved and I love it. The staff promised me that my wish will be granted today. I first had a three hour meeting with the staff explaining to them how to take better pictures and the art of photography and showing them the gear I brought and why I brought it. I tried to make a very complex media simple and interesting. Hoped I succeeded. They were very interested in seeing some of my images and had great interest in my pictures from Peru. They were fascinated by Peru and how the people have similar physical characteristics to themselves. More on this later. They also loved hearing about the national dish of Qui. Qui is guinea pig and I had it a few times while in Peru. Guinea pig is unknown here and when they saw pictures of a guinea pig, could not believe that people eat it. Loved hearing about Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. I also read them my first three blogs I posted on this trip. It was then time for lunch. Lunch was quite interesting and I witnessed one of the beautiful characteristics of these people. There is a woman who comes in every morning and cleans the office. She starts at 6 AM and works most of the day keeping the office clean. The office consists of three floors of offices and classrooms. The scholarship students use the classrooms for special class work and computer time to supplement their attendance and schooling at the University. The classrooms have lots of computer stations and each student uses a computer. Manin is tech chief who keeps everyone running. The cleaning lady has been working for them for five months and is leaving. The staff took her out to lunch, had a big party and presented her with a beautiful framed certificate of employment and job well done. Do you see this happening in America? I am sure it happens in America, but not often enough. Everyone should be treated as important and needed people. Many of us have seen cleaning women clean offices late at night or early in the morning. I would think that most people are too busy to appreciate their work and effort. After lunch I Had further talks with the scholarship students. We talked about many things and I further stressed on them the importance of school and that they were the future of their country. I only hope that these people never loose the spark and drive to better themselves. I explained to them that I believe that these traits were passed onto them by their grandparents and parents. Their generations had survived their holocaust. I told them to ask their grandparents and parents about those years and write a journal about their families history. So much needs to be preserved and not forgotten. Being Jewish, I believe that when people go through an event of this nature, the survivors acquire certain survival skills that passed on to future generations. I then read my travel blogs for them. I would read a little in English, of course, and then a staff member would interpret in Khmer. Sometimes it became a funny and slow process. They then wanted to see more pictures of my travels. I then showed them Peru and explained to them the process of acclimating yourself to reach higher elevations. When they saw pictures of the Peruvians they also saw the similarities between them. I then showed them on a globe that a small waterway separates Russia from Alaska. About 40 miles of water. I explained to them that thousands of years ago there was a land bridge here and that people from their part of the world migrated down through Canada, America, Mexico and Central and South America. They were further fascinated by the picture of a smoking volcano and the Qui. After the students left for the University, I was introduced to the president of the Board of Directors of Pepy. She is a local long standing supporter. I had a great conversation with her and explained to her why I keep coming back here. She and I immediately formed a bond and a friendship. I could tell you that the heat and jet lag is starting to get to me. I know that every time I come to this part of the world, there is always one day where I crash and catch up on my sleep. Today might be that day. That would be good since Mongolia is next and I will be fully acclimated by then. Went back to the hotel and fell asleep. Woke up and met Sarrak, Kimsru and Konnetha on the roof of my hotel for dinner in a small restaurant overlooking Siem Reap. The rain then came. A huge thunderstorm with torrential downpours. Had local food and then my prayers were answered. The durian arrived. Dug into it and savored every last mouthful. Will there be durian in Mongolia? Hope so. Sarrak promised my a long day tomorrow. I love long days here and being around everyone. I seem never to get tired during the day but then feel it at the end. It is hard for a Westerner to adjust to the change of climate in such a short time.
Hope everyone has enjoyed day 3 and am safe on the other side of the world