Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Coming home!


It's been a while eh? Sorry for the non communication in the past 6 weeks I have been working 16-18 hrs day leading trips, fundraising and building schools with no internet, power etc. Amazing work as the volunteers lives were changed. I don't normally email pics - but this one captured the spirit.

What started as a trip to India a year ago,and then a Nepal trip, and then a 3 month internship has now evolved into something big. I can't believe that 10 months ago after that short stint with dengue and malaria at the bangkok hospital I still choose to go to Cambodia broke, tired and just down right depressed and you folks didn't think it was crazy?

Well I want to thank everyone for making the dream happen and for all the meditation, funds and in just taking time to email me to make me feel like a real person. Those emails and care packages are what kept me going.

So I am still amazed that 6 months ago my heart burned out and I had no direction for my life.  That caused me to pick up the pieces and move on - this has lead to a couple cool projects that I am involved in next year.

The news that I am stoked about: I am coming home in less than 7 days! I leave Cambodia on the cheapest way possible which means a 8 hr bus ride, 4 flights over 3 days and 4 hr drive from windsor. It's going to take 5 days in total but I am coming home!

The exciting news is that I will be back in Cambodia in the fall teaching at a local cool school in Siem Reap.  It's the school's 2nd year of operations and my job will be to teach JK and train a local teacher in taking over my role for year three. 

I will also be back consulting in the fall on fundraising and a slew of little projects and hopefully I get enough timeoff to enjoy this amazing bike trip this year - you should all come!

Any in some really amazing news. 
I spent the last 5 weeks negotiating a creative space in Siem Reap and finally signed the lease 2 days ago. It's going to be my apartment in the fall and  [in my opinion] it's one of the best old school buildings in the Reap. Depending on teaching time and renovations it w
ill eventually be a place for community events with some ideas that I would like to try out for
 future endeavors i.e. monthly community dinners, a little coffee and of course a great space to paint.

The name of it is called Sammaki which is a difficult word to translate in english, but this definition from a Google search sums it up "joyful interworking that yields good for all people and is radiant in its essence." 

Really excited to see you folks really soon. I am home for 2 months! Pints, stories and celebration is needed!

Peace and blessings,
Jam

BTW> I hope you enjoy the pic of my backyard here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Khmer New Year with the fake sister and bro

A couple weeks ago my friends and I randomly planned a trip to one of the remote islands in the south of Cambodia.  It was Khmer New Year and everyone was taking off to crazy destinationswith their family and friends so we wanted to try sometime a bit different. It was fun to put together the last minute logistics for the trip. The hardest part was finding camping supplies - a tent was almost impossible to find.

We manage to track one down in Phnom Penh and before buying it I asked if we could open it. Surprisingly an army of clerks took the tent out of the store and decided to setup it in the middle of the mall - everyone was taking pictures and it was sooo much fun to watch people poke their heads in and out. 

After a billion hrs of travelling by tuk tuk, motorcycle, bus and boat we finally made it to the island. There was one remote village, two tourist bungalows on the 8km long beach with beautiful white sand that crunch while you walk. It was paradise - except for those nasty sand flies.


While looking for a camp site, we stumbled upon some Thai fisherman on the island. Apparently they have to pay the $500 US a month as a bribe to the policemen to keep fishing but damn they had the best location on the island. The views were stunning.

One of my co-workers calls me her "fake brother" and naturally I call her my fake sister. It's a bond that we have developed over the past 9 months over Coca Cola and Lok Lac. 

This was here first trip on a boat in the ocean and she hugged that bear all the way. I keep smiling at the thought of that. This is a women after my own heart - she is the only female student studying IT at her university, she's also an artist, and a trip leader for our trips - all at 19 years old. DAMN.

This is Rithy - my othe fake bro. Here we borrowed the covers of a couple coolers from the only shop on the island and use them as surf/catch me if you can boards on the water. It was soooooooooo much and the best part was watching him play Khmer New year games with the locales on a sand barge.

Overall 5 days on the island just kicked ass. We ate alot of sand[wiches], alot of mangoes/coconuts, got a shit load of sand fly bites and had wayyy to much fun.

My fake family told me that I was the first foreigner they have ever gone camping with and the first they knew that camped on a beach in Cambodia. I told them that they were the first Khmer's I meet that have ever gone camping on a beach in Cambodia as well.
 
It's times like these that remind me why I love Cambodia so much.