As I write this we are now currently back in Pursat. We left due to a possible Bird Flu outbreak. Apparently it was chicken cholera that had killed the birds which is common after long bouts of rain which we were experiencing the week prior. We are now staying in a hotel in the town of Pursat, just 1 KM from the school. I think Nick would soon divorce me if he continued not getting any sleep at night because I my screaming throughout the night from the rats if we stayed in the volunteer house. We also told Heang and LiHong that we weren't able to "honeymoon," in the volunteer house because there were always so many people there. That was a mistake because now they keep asking, "Did you honeymoon last night?" or sending us text messages, "Are you honeymooning?" So anyway, our room is $5 a night with fan, TV, bathroom, and fridge. It's worth spending the extra dough to not piss Nick off.
So here is what we did when we left for the Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh....
Going to Phnom Penh means having to visit the depressing site of the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum. It was one of the places on this trip that we most dreaded going to but it has to be done because these people need to be remembered. Following the Vietnam War, or the American War as it is known here, The Khmer Rouge took over and began a killing crusade. Pol Pot was the leader and had it in his mind to eradicate all people who were Buddhists, intellectuals, teachers, foreigners, and anyone else he chose not to be worthy of living. One of the places these doomed people were sent to was a school inside the city of Phnom Penh. The school was once a place that children came to learn and play, with Pol Pot in charge it became a place some of these very children would spend the last of their days. After days of torture and interrogation all the people eventually ended up taking their last breath at the bottom of a hole where they would be buried among thousands of other Khmer people. I still am very confused at why Pol Pot did this, and it breaks my heart to hear people ask, "Why did America not save us, why do they come to fight Communism in Vietnam but not help us?" It is a question that baffles them...
Quite the opposite after we went to the Killing Fields, Geneva, Wendy, Lyndel, Surreal (founder of SC's brother who teaches in Thailand) and Nick and I went to the Children's Center for Happiness orphanage. This was amazing... Some of the children who have been living here for 3-4 years. Their stories are all different.... Some were orphaned, others parents can't afford to have them, some were rescued from brothels, or some lived in the dumps outside of Phnom Penh. It was wonderful to see how these children have overcome their hardships and now have futures and dreams to follow. We played games there with them and some of the kids performed the traditional khmer dances that they had learned.
Happy Herb Pizza became a regular hangout for us. Rumor has it there is a secret ingredient put into the sauce that will leave you in a relaxed state of giggling the rest of the day. We learned it is important to not have anything to do the rest of the afternoon following one of these famous pizzas, because it will not get done. There is also a good chance that it won't get done the next day either. When ordering one you can get Happy, Happy Happy, or Very Very Happy. I would suggest staying away from the Very Very Happy.
After a few days in Phnom Penh we decided to head South to the beaches of Sihoukville. Wendy, Geneva, Lyndell, Nick and I wanted to spend the remaining of the New Year soaking up the sun....