Friday, May 28, 2010
On the Road Again
I slept sooo peacefully at Sambor Village. In fact, it was the best sleep I’ve had this entire trip. Around 5 or 5:30am, I was awakened by the hilarious sound of a rooster crowing. “Cock-a-doodle-dooooo!” All I could do was laugh. After packing up again, I had a light breakfast of scrambled eggs, a really soft piece of bread that was similar to warm soft pita bread and freshly squeezed orange juice. This meal came with a jelly made of minced ginger and pineapple.
After checking out of the hotel/resort, we boarded our little shuttle bus to continue our trek to Phenom Penh. I had no cash so I asked Som if we could stop at an ATM. We stopped at a bank where I decided to cash out a traveler’s check. It seemed as if everyone was staring at me. I thought it must be because they seldom see blacks. I asked Som were they staring at me because I am black. He said, “You are not black. You are brown. They are staring at you because they seldom see Americans in this bank.”
We are now traveling to a village that is a mix of ancient and modern temples. Som says there will be monks there that speak English. Once we leave there, we will have lunch in the city and we are scheduled to visit a museum. Part of the group will then take a boat trip through a village where they produce their own silks and dyes. The other part of our group, including me, will go with our instructor Sriyani to speak with a woman who tries to help victims of human trafficking.
At this point, we have a very long ride so we decided to start singing karaoke-style on the bus. Som says we can use his microphone. I’m thinking I’m going to sing, “Jesus Loves Me,” Whitney Houston-style (think “The Bodyguard” with Kevin Costner pre-crack is whack period).
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
It is 10:44am and our driver just stopped so that I could take a photo of a crop of rubber trees (see photos above). No one else really remarked about the trees, so I’m thinking that maybe I’m the only one on the bus that didn’t know rubber came from a tree. I thought it was man-made! We’ve passed crop after crop of the trees. They have coconut shells fastened to their trunks. Tom, Sriyani’s husband, says just like people tap a tree for maple syrup, workers here carve into the tree when the time is right and allow the rubber sap to drip into the cup-like coconut shell. It’s then taken to another location and processed. Simply fascinating.
During the road trip, we stopped at a little outdoor market so that some of the girls could go to the restroom. Several young kids approached our bus wanting us to buy their goods. One girl was selling tarantulas! Som said the legs are fried like french fries and they taste like peanut butter! I think the girl selling the spiders had fun seeing us ooh and awww… she placed one of the tarantulas on her face and acted as if she was going to bite into it. Funny and scary at the same time!
Shortly after that stop, we made our way into Phnom Penh. At one point, as we were crossing over the Mekong Delta (a natural passageway from southern Vietnam to Cambodia), I felt as if I were stepping into a scene from a movie. Very, very crowded with Asian and European influences all around, asphalt jungle on one side, beach on the other. We are staying at the Hotel Castle, which is where we said our goodbye to Som. He was a wonderful tour guide and I hated to see him leave. I am now in the hotel lobby using the internet. In a little bit, we will all head out to dinner. We have a very full day planned tomorrow.