Friday, October 25, 2013

Back in the Tuk Tuk Again

I thought of my return to Cambodia in big term: fate and destiny being two of them.  This new chapter of my life felt different in that I was not just falling into the next faze but choosing a new path.  I was to begin this first post of my second year of my not so accurate blog title A Year in Cambodia  "And thus begins................", but then I am here on the streets of Phnom Penh in the heat and the mess and looking for an apartment and missing home and all my musings seem to have disappeared.  Maybe it is Buddhism that has stopped me from thinking in such pretenious ways, thinking that I can control my destiny or alter my fate.  I don't know exactly why I am back or what I will find.  My more immediate concerns, like finding a cool spot or a good place to eat has changed my point of view from global to more street level; in short I am back in the tuk tuk again.

Views from my balcony
I found an apartment in the same neighborhood I lived before, close to school and this one is bigger.  The ceilings are maybe 14 feet high and I could set up a basketball court in my living room.  I went by school to talk with Sandra and was there at 2:30 when it let out.  Many of the staff have changed but the kids were mostly the same.  I got such a nice reception from them, made me feel good about coming back.  I also met a guy named John Brown who has been in Cambodia for many years, he is hooked into the expat community and invited me to a resturant on Sunday to meet a couple.  I have to say they are all characters, they all have stories to tell but I think most of what they say is not true .  Anyway, I had planned to go to Kampot for a could of days and sit out by the river and then start teaching on the 28th.  They all love Kampot and gave me a name and number to contact.  In Kampot Stan says sure come on down to O'Neils, there is a quiz game tonight and our team needs members.  So at 5:30 I am at O'Neil and meet Stan and shortly the whole crowd.  There was Neil, the owner, from Ireland, Blair, a photographer who splits his time between Canada and Nepal and Kampot.  Douglas runs a tree farm, Karen, an Aussie, not sure but knows everything about the area, Jack from the US who has lived in SE Asia for 25 years and is now using Kampot as his "base of operation" but was reluctant to say what his operation was.  Collin, an Aussie, who is blind but surprisingly owns a boat, after a number of beers announces that he will take us all for a ride tomorrow. 

So off we went up the Kampot River to the Chinese Dam.  Neil brought a cooler with a lot of beer and that put us all in jolly mood.  Douglas, the tree farmer, was quite an expert and lover of the trees of Cambodia.  Collin, although blind(we had a Khmer boat driver), knew every turn in the river.  Up the river and into the mountains until we get to the rapids before the Chinese Dam.  Karen says that there are 100 (1000?) Chinese workers who run the dam and that the little Khmer town can get pretty roudy on Saturday night because "for the Chinese, drinking is a contact sport".  Well anyway Collin now announces that the trip up the river was free but if we would like to come back with him it will be $30, then he breaks out a bottle of scotch and soon revises the price to $1 each that will go to the driver.  Some of the homes along the river are quite large and Neil or someone called the owners the idle rich in contrast with them who are the idle poor.  They all agreed rich or poor, the important thing is to be idle. I get the feeling that this group of expats is quite different from the teachers and NGO workers I have fallen in with.  In many ways they embrace the culture more in that they like the slow pace, lack of regulations and expectations.  They have come here to avoid the west not to bring the west to Cambodia.  We make a pit stop on the way back to visit another expat who owns a resort and finally back to Kampot after dark.  Quite an unexpected day.

Back in Phnom Penh now and from the back of the tuk tuk things are not just right.  I can't find Samol, the Bodhi Tree is closed, my camera (actually Violet's) broke (so no pictures of my trip) and the AK does not do wine tasting on Friday nights anymore.  And maybe worst of all SuperCheap does not sell Becks.  How can one control destiny when so many things change?  My expat friends invited me to an all you can eat shrimp fest on Sunday at some resturant by the riverside, I wonder what that might lead to.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Year at High Tide

Low Tide on Koh Rung
Henry Beston wrote about his year on the great beach of Cape Cod in a lovely book, The Outermost House. His year was one of experience; the weather, the surf, the birds, how the sand shifted and storms boomed.  His last chapter was about the great adventure a year in outer nature was and in reflecting back he said for him it was a year at high tide.  Well, you probably know where I am going with this, my year is at an end and it was an adventrue and experience; a different culture, climate, new friends and students.  A year at high tide.  These pictures are what I mean by high tide.

 High Tide
Panha, a brilliant student
May and Me
Friends for Life
Boyz in My Hood
Riding the Wave
My fellow teachers
Polin and Me
High Tide

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nice Work If You Can Get It

A night on the town
The year is coming to an end and it is all going too fast.  A lot of the teachers at East-West  are moving on so the last couple of weekends have been full of doing things together that we talked about but never seemed to get to, like going to the Elephant Bar and the Sun Set Bungalows on the Mekong.  And then there was the end of year concert and of course more rides across the river.  Also one more tennis afternoon and  Vietnam Cambodian Friendship Park for aerobic dancing.  Next week is the end of the year dinner at school and on Friday nite renting a boat for an evening on the Tonle Sap River.   All the while I continue to make untold (don't tell the IRS) and uncounted millions.  Nice work if you can get it.

Me and Surim

Picture after the concert
 Jackie Kennedy came to Cambodia in the early 60s and went to Angkor Wat and pointed out its beauty to the world but also how it was neglected and riddled with bullet holes and priceless pieces were being stolen.  While she was in here she went to the Elephant Bar, the most exclusive watering hole in the most expensive hotel in Phnom Penh, and so that is where we ended up one night.  They named a drink after her, the Femfatal, not exactly sure why,  but we all saw her autographed picture on the wall and played pool and generally acted like we were out of our element.  More to my liking was the end of the year concert.  Each class does an act and they were really fun to watch.  All the students wear uniforms to school (I would recommend it) but on this night they were all dressed up and looked great.  Lots of picture taking after the show.  I got a lot of compliments too because I bought a new shirt and wore a tie.  I actually heard one kid say that I looked like the old double zero seven  (obiouvsly they dont know Sean Connery's name ) (or did he say he looks like an old big zero?)).  Hey, we all hear what we what to hear, right?

Me and Bunleng on the Mekong

Riding off road

Even ghost need shelter from the storm

I know I am probably boring you to death with my rides across the river but I am going to have to do it again.  I rent a bike, take my life into my hands riding down to the ferry, 500 reil ($.25) buys a ticket and then in ten minutes I am in the third world.  I've gone with maybe six different people and sometimes by myself, why no one wants to come back with me I wonder, too hot : I love it.  Ten minutes of riding and the 21st century is left behind.  A student of mine, Bunleng, saw me riding one day and asked on Monday where I was going so I told him.  Ever since he has been hinting that he would like to go too.  So last week I invited him to come.  He invited a friend and off we went.  They both had really cool mountain bikes and mine was like the wicked witches'with the basked on the front, well they wanted to go off road and so we followed a road that lead away from the river and into the fields.  Mango groves, sugar cane, corn, papaya, sweet grass, rice all laid out in neat grids,   The road became just a moto/bike trail..  We passed an old shack with some horses teathered outside and the man inside yelled to us.  As we moved on I asked Bunleng what he said  "Come in for lunch".  I thought for sure he would have said "I'm calling the cops" or "Get off my property".  After about an hour Bunleng pulls out his smart phone and goes to the GPS to see where we are.... lasers in the jungle, right.  Well we managed to find our way back to the SMango resort for lunch and then got caught in a big thunderstorm on the way back to the ferry.  They were riding ahead and ducked through a gate and when I arrived they were under the tin roof overhang of an old woman's house.  We were all wet and muddy but she invited us in so we sat at the top the stairs out of the rain, so glad Bunleng and his friend were there to talk with her.  I noticed through the steps these big eyes stairing up at me, two little kids were under the house, I made my move to scare them and they went screaming off to there mother who was under there too.  I asked Bunleng to tell them I was only fooling, but he said they were scared because they thought I was a ghost.  Well pretty soon those big eyes were peering up again trying to figure out if I was the good ghost of the west or bad ghost of the east.   

Aerobic dancing in the park
Phnom Penh does not have a lot of green space but there are parks and my favorite is the Vietnamese Cambodian Friendship Park.  During the day it is generally deserted because it is so open and hot but it comes alive in the late aftennon and night.  It just fills up with people and there are soccer games and lots of families and then aerobic dancing.  For 1000 reil you can join a group and try to keep in step.  The leader wears a head set and counts off time over the music which is incredibly loud.  Really fun to watch and join in.  Cambodians love to dance and sing and wear bright clothing.  So strange that the Khmer Rouge made everyone wear black pajamas and singing and dancing was banned.  As it gets dark the fountains light up and it is really pretty. 

Nightime fountains in the park
I really gotten to like Phnom Penh.  I've said and thought many times that it is a nice place to live but I wouldn't want to visit here.  Then I wonder how did I come to live here.  Of all the places in the world I never thought I would end up in Cambodia.  Now that my year's paid vacation is coming to an end (have I mentioned that I make millions) I have no regrets only a true appreciation of this far away place.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Musings on the Kingdom

The King's cows during the Ploughing Ceremony
  I see my time in Cambodia coming to an end and I know I will miss so much that I have found here.  My understanding of the country is incomplete but I have learned a lot in the eight months.  Starting at the top, this is the Kingdom of Cambodia, with a king and queen.  Right now I am in southern Cambodia because it is the King's Birthday, a three day national holiday.  When is Obama's birthday?  The role of kings goes back to Angkor Wat and before.   All the school children here know King Cheyvoroman VII, builder of Angkor Wat, the greatest of all the kings was not only a ruler but kind of a deity.  We all got up early last week to see the king lead the Ploughing Ceremony in front to the National Museum.  Lots of pomp circumstance with the king's cows ploughing the field and then let go to feed on different kinds of grain; rice, beans, corn, etc.  After that the king will proclaim what will be planted this year depending on what they ate. Is Monsanto in on this?  My frequent rides across the river have revealed all the fields ploughed and waiting for rain.  I wonder if they will follow the king's choices on what to plant? 

One month old
I also got a chance to meet Samol's family.  Gayla and I were invited to the month after birth ceremony at his house. When infant mortality was really high, families used to wait a month before welcoming in a new baby, hence the month celebration.  Samol is such a cool guy, the Miles Davis of tuk-tuk drivers. Meeting his family was an honor.  He has two boys six and five, a little girl almost three and now a month old baby.  Too many he said to me, or maybe enough.  I told him about vasectomies, not sure if he liked that idea.  He and his wife put on the dog for us (I really hope it was chicken) and their kids were all dress up.  We brought presents for the kids, little match box cars and a wooden puzzle of Khmer letters and some clothes for the baby.  Well the boy who got the yellow car really wanted the white one and the little girl just hated the puzzle and wanted a car as well. Babies just go around naked until whenever so the clothes were kind of silly.   I should have just written each a check.  Somal lives way over on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.  He owns his own house and it was nice.  Everyone sits and eats on the floor so there is not much need for furniture.   The house is made out of wood instead of the more modern homes that are brick and concrete.  Downstairs is just one open room and has a TV while the upstairs is where they all sleep.  Nor sure where he fits in on the social/economic scale of Cambodia.  He is not poor but I think struggles.  He needs a new tuk-tuk.  He likes talking about what is going on in the world and has made a lot of connections with westerners who he talks of as friends (I hope I am included).  Samol often speaks of an American, named Alex, who is part of an organization that bring heart surgeons over to Cambodia to perform complex operation on children.    He showed us pictures of his wedding and in the wedding was the head of the NGO that he worked for at that time.  He values education and pays for his oldest son to go to a better school.  

Samol and family

Phnom Penh seem from across the Mekong
I can't help but think what life will be like for Samol's kids.  There is a bright future here with each generation having more, but more of what?  I ride along this beautiful road through rural Cambodia.  People are nice and welcoming.  Although in some places they is no electricity, they are not hungry or poor.  They have no refrigeration so no ice cream but every third house has a big orange cooler filled with ice and drinks.  I think of solar power, but for what?  They don't need hot water (I don't have hot water in my kitchen, only my shower and don't really need it), for cooking they use gas stoves or charcoal.  The impact of these farming communities  on the environment is low and if more stuff came in than they would need more electric and then AC and more power again.  I don't feel like they want to be western but I am sure that the more the kids see of this big world the more they will look at the building across the river and want to be there.   How are you gonna keep them down on the farm after they've seen TV?  Many Khmer staff here at school go to their homeland for holidays to work on their family farm. There is a really color thing here, with light being better than dark.  Once I saw Sambath when he got back after the New Year's break and I said something about how "tan" he was and he said we was working in the fields at his family farm.  He also wanted to lose his "tan" ASAP.  Next to the sun block creams at the supermarket there are all sorts of skin whitening products.   

Restored store fronts in Kampot

The road to the pepper farms outside of Kep
I have  been traveling  in southern Cambodian, the towns of Kep and Kampot.  It is different from other places I've been.  Near the Vietnamese boarder and along the coast.  This area is not such a tourist magnet for westerners but more of a Cambodian vacation area.  The countryside is really beautiful with farms and very dramatic mountains.  Kep is known for its seafood, especially crab and Kampot shows some the past French colonial influence and is known for its peppers and the riverfront.  I liked seeing all the Cambodians out and enjoying their country.  A growing middle class that drives to the beach to picnic, but never sit in the sun. Not too long ago, 20 years, the terror of the Khmer Rouge was ending leaving the country in ruin.  People were not only starving but gone were all the educated, the artists, the entrepreneurs.  The country had been bombed by the US more than we know and land mines were a good reason not to leave the roadside.  Now my students come to school  with cell phones and iPad and iBooks.  One generation removed and on the way into the 21st century.  I would not be so pretentious to claim to have much of an impact here or a real understanding of the direction the country will go but I love being a witness and if anyone of my students becomes a world renown Ornithologist I might just have to take a bow.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy Khmer New Year

Crossing the Mekong River
Happy Khmer New Year  Everyone!  Its the year of the Dragon and the third time I've said Happy New Year since January.  First there was our New Year and I was up in Siem Reap, then a month and a half ago Chinese New Year with dragons  dancing in the street here in Phnom Penh and last week I got powdered pretty heavily out on Koh Rong island. 

Three little entrepreneurs
We have had more than a week off and I've enjoyed the time both here and at the beach.  One day we brought bikes on the ferry across the Mekong River to go exploring.  Not too expensive, only 1000 riel (25cents), for the crossing.  It is a different world over there; we never left sight of the big buildings  of Phnom Penh but gone were paved roads, electricity (many homes have generators), English, ice cream but found out that every family has a cow, all the kids know how to say hello and that when you sweat through your shirt all you really need to say at the little orange cooler roadside stands is "moouy Angkor" and, of course, "akoun".  Three little girls rode along with us for a while and their English was pretty good.  They asked where I was from and thought it was so funny when I said Phnom Penh. I guess don't look Cambodian but I am starting to feel like this is home.  Then they wanted us to stop to look at their silk scarves.  We said we wanted to keep on riding because we needed the exercise, not sure if there is a word for exercise in Khmer.  They pouted a little and I explained to them that the customer is always right, not sure if that translated very well either.  Well we rode and said hello a lot and stopped to replace our electrolytes more than once.  The river was on our right and there were houses and open fields, some motos, a few cars but so different from just across the river.  No fear or apprehension of our comings or goings, just that friendly acceptance that I have come to appreciate so much.  Hours later we were back at the ferry and met our young friends again who now had their scarves all laid out on a table for us to buy.    "Too hot for a scarf." " I don't like scarves."  "No I don't have a wife who would like a scarf." ........ "Well if you bought a nice scarf maybe you could get a wife."   I bought three.  I never really had a chance.

Coming into the beach at Koh Rong
Read to dive
Two days later 13 of us from school went off to the islands for four nights.  Back to Koh Rong again but this time to a big beach with a small Khmer village and a couple of resorts all with bungalows clustered around a restaurant.  Really nice to have choices for lunch and dinner and fun to be near the village. At night there was a lot of music and dancing for the new year, oh and also white powder.  Everyone gets smeared or dusted with baby powder, something about ghosts.  Khmer boys like to dance just as much as the girls and they were fun to watch.  Some of the music was loud discolike but also some Khmer music, all coming from these big speakers set up on the beach.  The Khmer dancing is in a circle, in this case around a pole with a fluorescent light on top.  Reminded me of that Sienfeld episode of Festivus.  Then a disco tune would send everyone to crazy dancing.  There were a couple of really young, but really good, show off dancing boys.  Everyone would gather around and clap and they would just do the nuttiest moves, wish I have video.  On the way back one night we all went swimming and the water was phosphorescent, doesn't get much better than that, except the next day when we took a dive boat out to a reef and snorkeled for a couple of hours.  I think Ringo had it right, no worries or problems on the reef (except sharks), how happy we could be in an Octopus' Garden.
Me with Lena and Angela
    One day we walked across the  island to the beach on the other side.  The trail climbed up into the jungle then flattened out only to be really steep coming down.  There were ropes set out on the steepest parts, but it was worth it because the beach over there went on for six miles; beautiful white sand and only one small resort.  We went for a swim and then got lunch.  The trail from the other side of the island came right to the restaurant so we met some hikers from the other side and we all arranged to go back on a boat later in the afternoon.  Two young girls came across in flip flops and they ended up having lunch with us.  They were volunteering in Sihanouk Ville in a program that tries to keep kids in school.  They saved up to come over here and then will travel for a couple of weeks.  Angela (hope I got your name right) I saw the night before dancing with the little Cambodian boys.  She was really having fun.  Lena is from Germany and just really nice.  We all rented snorkeling gear and spent the afternoon on a reef close to shore.  It was different in that between the rocks and coral was beautiful white sand. It was like a paved road that schools of fish would use to get from one part of the reef to another.  I saw one large fish approach and I kind of blocked his (or her) way.  WTF if think I heard it say as I would not let it pass and it was not about to take an alternate route.   Joey saw a cuttlefish and I spent the rest of the day trying to find it.  Later we all hopped on a boat for the trip around the island and one more night.

Pulling away from Koh Rong
Somehow the last morning came and no more two hour coffees at the restaurant trying to decide what to do with the day.  Said goodbye to playing card at night and walks along the beach and the green water of the Gulf of Thailand.  I will remember the heat lightning storms and seeing he stars and southern cross at night.  It was fun getting to know my friends and collegues from school in a more relaxed atmosphere, akoun for such a nice time. 
Hey I'm always thinking less is more but three new years in four months feels just about right.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Not in Cambodia Any More

Megacity outside our hotel window
When did Dorothy say to Toto "We're not in Kansas anymore."?  Well I remember walking out of the Hong Kong Airport Friday night and right up to these glass sliding doors, the LED sign said "Next Train in 6 Minutes".  Where were the tracks?  Five and a half minutes later a phantom sidled up and the glass doors opened to reveal a sleek clean fast train and in two stops I was at a 5 star hotel and that's when I said "I'm not in Cambodia anymore".
Eddie showing the way
      My brother Eddie does international trading and was in Tokyo during the week and then had meetings in Hong Kong this week, so he invited me to spend the weekend with him.  It was great to see him and to do things together in Hong Kong.  Hong Kong is really an incredible city.  Like Manhattan it is built on an island and has a dramatic skyline, but unlike Manhattan it is surrounded by mountains and islands that make the city more interesting and varied.  Although Hong Kong is the most crowded city in the world it has preserved a lot of green space and some of the islands that are part of Hong Kong are almost entirely preserved.  That means that the only way to develop is vertically.  Illustrative of this is that Eddie and I hold the record (along with many others who might be too inebriated to know) of having the highest draft beer in the world.  The Ozone Bar is at the 113 storey of the RitzCarlton Hotel.   I also might me one of the highest persons to sit in a hot tube at 76 storeys,  braving a chilling mist after I got off the elevator both before, and especially, after I got out of the 95 degree water.  Now I don't think Sir Edmund Hillary or Tensing Norgay hold either of those records and I did it on consecutive days.
Subway enterance
       A little history; Hong Kong was part of the British Commonwealth for years, but we all know that it is part of China.  In 1997 the British gave it back but at that time it was a wealthy city that was about as far from communism as you can get.  The millionaires and billionaires threatened to move to Vancouver if they were forced to share, so China proclaimed Hong Kong a Special Autonomous Region (SAR); one country two economic systems.  All the fat cats stayed and now China is moving more to the Hong Kong model.  Money talks and Hong Kong is the dominant financial center in SE Asia.  Hence Eddie's meetings and my visiting him there.
City lights
Afternoon inthe park
       We both like birds so on Saturday morning we took a ferry across Victoria Harbor and then out to Lamnar Island.  This is the largest island in the SAR and probably a real destination in the warm weather.  There are a cluster of restaurants near the ferry and than a lot of really nice cove beaches surround by rocky green hills.  Looks a little like Maine, but warmer.  Eddie and I totally mis-read the trail map, took the wrong trail that made our hike 3 hours instead of 40 minutes but we took it slow and had lunch at a really nice restaurant right on a beach.  As in Cambodia, not many birds.  The most common were Fishing Eagles, no gulls or crows, strange.  We were supposed to meet his friend to watch a rugby match but got back too late.  Ed went into the office to catch up on emails and I went to the 76 floor to establish what might be Guinness Record status.  Later that night we went out on the town and finished with an exciting call to Mom.  "Oh that's nice that you are in Asia together, but when are you coming home?"  Soon Mom. 
Green space
      Sunday we went to the Hong Kong Zoo.  Beautiful park, felt sorry for the animals and saw some cool "free" birds while sitting outside having coffee: mynars, some kind of warlber, a Red-whiskered Bulbul and a Masked Laughtingthrush.   We walked back toward the subway and had a great lunch and then said goodbye.  He went to meet a college friend and me to wonder how fast this weekend went.
The streets of Phnon Penh

 I clicked my heels together and before I knew it I was in the back of Samol's tuktuk and driving through the chaos and the mess and I couldn't help but say to myself "There is pno placeh like Phnom" (Penh, that is).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Out and About in Cambodia

Nice beach and no crowds
I've been getting out and doing things and have a lot of nice pictures that I would like to share.  Let's see, a couple of us went to Koh Kong for a long weekend and then out to a really nice, very isolated, island and spent the day snorkeling on a reef.  It was like being a guest in an aquarium.  Koh Kong was kind of a dreary place and we walked from the hotel to Pat's Bamboo Bar for dinner one night.  It was like stepping back into the 60s with Jimi and Van Morrison playing and everyone a there looking a little burned out.   Back at the hotel we watched the Australian Open Tennis and that was fun.  The next Sunday back in PP we again watched the finals with pretty boy Raffa against my man Novack in a really great 61/2 hour match at this sports bar with a giant screen.  Not only did Novack win but I made a bet with Amanda that he would and the winner paid for the upcoming trip to silk island. 
The wedding girl, Aka
Sambath and Vinh all dressd up
Showing all of Cambodia how to do the funky chicken
The fun table at last
I went to Aka's wedding and it was really fun.  So different from Pov's.  Aka works at the AK, the wine tasting place, and unlike Pov,  I don't think there is any money in either her or her husband's family.  But it was still a big party.  Everyone was dancing and having a great time.  Me, Diego (from Italy) and Jim (from New Zealand) were the representives from the AK along with Sambath and Vinh who work with Aka.  We didn't get there until after 9 o'clock so we missed all the ceremony but we got up and danced.  All the people there were so nice and really liked that we were having a good time.  Back at the table it was toast after toast with these Khmer guys putting scotch in our glasses of beer.  If I learn anything this year it will be to be more attentive and welcoming to people from other countries.

Nary, Nary and Naret on board
Part of the floating village
Then off to the silk island.  Don't you love the word silk.  When I flew in from Singapore I took Silkair, could there be a smoother ride, I don't think so, and the touch down, hardly felt.  The only problem with silk island was that they didn't "grow" silk there and it wasn't an island.  Hey, don't sweat the small stuff.   We had a Tuesday off and there were ten of us from school that made our way down to the river and then on a rented boat crossing two rivers to the Mekong and then to Koh Dach (Silk Island).  It really was a nice little river trip on a funky little boat. We passed a floating village and lots of fisherman.  We never left sight of the big buildings of Phnom Penh, but when we got off the boat on the far side of the river it was really beautiful rural country.   What they did on Koh Dach was weave in traditional way using hand looms.  Really pretty amazing.  They had no silk worms but imported raw silk from the provinces.  It is spun into thread of different thickness and qualities and then made into fabric.  Just outside of PP there are these really large clothing manufacturing centers where thousands of Cambodians work.  I've passed by them on the bus when they are letting out at 6pm and wondered what the working conditions are and how the workers, looks like mostly young women, are treated.  Well, the women on silk island were all crafts women and took real pride in what they did.   We tried our hand at using the loom and then all had lunch.  The nationalities sitting down at the table were American, Australian, Polish, Welsh and Cambodian.  Glad we all spoke English.  On the way back we passed this island that has just been connected to Phnom Penh by bridge and the apartment buildings and fancy river side homes show the changes that are coming to this city and country.  For the better or worse?  Just progress I guess.    
Nary working on the loom
Our group surrounded by silk
Leaving Koh Dach
Next on my list of things to do is meeting my brother Eddie in Hong Kong.  Looking forward to seeing him and seeing what that big city is like.