06 January, 2007

A day of highs and lows

The day started a bit low with Kenny and I finally getting on each others' nerves (but you gotta hand it to us, living in such close quarters, we do quite well) so we took the day to hang out on our own and made plans to meet up at dinner. A little bit sad, but knowing it was the best idea, I headed off to the temples for one last dose of ancient history mixed with plenty of scorching sun and dust. I biked around behind some of the temples that had no crowds (I had at least two of them completely to myself) while listening to Etta Baker blues songs. Finally the bike pains in my neck drove me back through the gates and towards the landmine museum, which was probably the most interesting, best put together "museum" I've ever been to: it's a guy's house, this man who is barely ten years older than myself, named Aki Ra, who lives there with his wife and about a dozen kids and teenagers, all victims of landmine accidents. The kids live and work there and in turn, visitors are inspired to pledge money for their university educations if they can get themselves through high school (and these are some really smart, clever kids-- all learning English quickly via tourists who visit the museum). Aki Ra and his wife basically go out on trips to the Cambodian countryside and dismantle live mines with sticks and knives. They take pictures, get friends to write up English and Japanese captions explaining what's going on, and hen they post them all over the walls of their barn-meets-car port thing that they use for the main museum. So it's pictures, informative papers, and a tone of dismantled explosive devices, just piles of them. Pretty amazing, and just so homemade looking that I found myself absorbed for much longer than is customary in big citified air-con museums back home. Aki Ra has been in so many newspapers all over the world, I'm sure you can find more info if you google him.

Then I changed dollars to Baht to prepare for tomorrow's loooong bus ride across the border to Thailand. It's supposed to be 10-14 hours, not counting the stop at the border. We got the earliest bus we could, leaving at 7am, but it looks like we're going to be getting in in the middle of the night. Blechh. Guess we better figure out where we're heading once we reach Bangkok. I'm a little intimidated by the idea of Bangkok, but as our friend Erik said, "if you can live in Saigon, you can definitely do Bangkok." I certainly hope so.

The high point of the day for me was once we had met up and headed out for dinner, looking for cheap eats: we're walking down Bar Street (the nicely lit, not-really-Cambodia part of town) and we come across a troupe of Korean percussion artists, who look like they could be a high school drum corp except for the amazing headgear and funky costumes. These kids were rocking out with hand drums, drums with sticks, silvery gong things, and long white tassels attached to their hats that somehow they managed to swing around their heads in perfect synchronicity. Way cool.

Oh yeah: pictures are up at Flickr! Check out the temples and our random snaps of Phnom Penh.

1 comment:

joe said...

I read your blog and I get a picture of you in my head as if i am watching your life through a lens...it is a little blurry around the edges, very dream-like, but amazing and I can't help but wonder what it would be like to have myself in the picture. When I read your blog....i feel like i am almost there...

I'm on Flickr a lot.

Jessica K.. Get yours at bighugelabs.com/flickr