Thursday, April 23, 2009

2 Month experience has come to pass.

Well, this is my last Post! Thanks for keeping in with me. It's Thursday, April 23, and I'll be flying out of Phnom Penh tonight headed for the states. I should be back sometime on Friday evening. Here's my flight schedule:

Phnom Penh (April 23, 11:55 PM) to Seoul (April 24, 7:10 AM)
Seoul (April 24, 4:30 PM) to Los Angeles (April 24, 11:30 AM)
-I Cross the International date line; wierd time change stuff. But I'll be back in the states!
L.A. to Denver
Denver to K.C.

I should be touching ground by 10 PM Friday night in Kansas City.

I have lots of photos to process from the last two months; I look forward to sharing my experience with you in person.

Thanks again!
Cory Rutledge

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kep (Kipe) & Rabbit Island on Easter

I got a break for Easter. Marc and Ann Hall were planning a trip to Kep (sounds like Kipe) and Rabbit Island for Easter. (Yeah, Rabbit Island on Easter... Ironic). The only problem is that another family going with them got a sick kid the morning before they left. Since there was an extra room booked the Halls asked if I wanted to go too, so I did along with a guy currently at RDI from Germany, Adrian. This was a nice get-away weekend and a unique way to celebrate Easter.

Our first day there, Adrian and I rented motorbikes and toured a couple of caves outside the Kep and Kampot areas. This Cave had a monument built inside it predating the Angkor temples of Siem Reap.
A kid from a local village took us on a tour through the caves.
Both of the caves had entrances and exits. This was an exit out of the cave with the temple.
Both of the caves are found within small mountains which oddly rise amongst rice fields.
One of the exits of one cave opened up to the top of the mountain. I had to rock climb15-20 ft through a hole in the ceiling of the cave to get to this view.
To get to Rabbit Island you have to take one of these small boats.
The Halls brought a small raft for their kids to play in... and I had to keep the sun off of me some how during our boat ride...

Some cute kids who live on the island.
We had an Easter egg hunt for Eli and Cali Hall.
The local kids weren't quite sure what we were doing with all the colorful plastic eggs, but everyone enjoys getting a little candy.
I met a guy from Unicef while on Rabbit Island; we were both treking the island and ended up doing it together. It took about 1 1/2 -2 hours to walk all the way around the island.

If you're thinking about making a trip to Rabbit Island the accomodations are very typical for a Cambodian, but maybe not a westerner.

Your room comes complete with one foam mattress on the floor, two pillows, a couple of sheets, and a bug net. Also you can see the ground through the cracks in your floor and sunlight through small holes in the side of your bungalow.

The beach was enjoyable, though, I got a lot of reading done. I lazly layed on the beach, listened to the waves, and swam in the ocean. Not a typical Easter.
This was our last night and the sunset was exceptionally colorful. Although just about any sunset is a good one when you're watching it from a hammock on the beach.
Now back to the grind. I have 9 days left in Cambodia and I still have plenty of work to finish!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Latest things

I have two and a half weeks left in Cambodia and it will be gone before I know it. So, I'm trying to make the most of my time here. I'm still working hard on a mural for RDI. It should be done soon, but I have no idea when. I had a really good birthday on Saturday. I lazyly spent the day in Phnom Penh, drank lots of fruit shakes to beat the heat, and got a massage (they're only $5-8 for an hour, I couldn't pass it up).

Next week is Kmai new year, because the Sampsons will be leaving soon to go back to the states for a month we started celebrating it early for the kids. Last night, lots of people from the village all went over to one of the larger houses to celebrate. I ate the best meal I've had since being in Cambodia. It was amazing, it's hard to describe what we had because we don't have anything like it back home. We had some kind of spicy cold salad (looked kind of like cole slaw) with strips of chicken mixed in it. Then we had rice noodles with some kind of cabbage like substance that was really really sweet. To top it off we had a pot of duck meat with spinach and hot peppers. And of course rice was served with all of this too.

I think I may start celebrating Kmai new year in the states:
After dinner everyone was handed a small bottle of talcum powder (some powders included menthol). And as you can guess the fun soon began. There was a white cloud hovering around us in the yard and every once in a while you'd catch the strong minty smell of menthol. We were told to hope and pray we don't get it in our eyes (which I did). It was a lot of fun and everyone joined in from the three year olds to the old men in the village. No one was exempt. You had to constantly watch your back; you never knew who would sneak behind you and smear powder across your face or dump it in your hair. This continued for about 15 minutes until everyone was out of powder... but the fun wasn't over.

Next came the water. Those small talcum powder bottles quickly became containers for water once you removed their tops. Anything that could hold water became a weapon (coke bottles with holes in the lid, cooking bowls, powder bottles, etc). The water fight lasted a long time. It's a wonder no one got hurt. There were clothes lines you had to dodge on one side of the yard and a slick concrete slab beneath the house.

Our games lasted about 45 min-hour. But this is just the beginning, next week is the big celebration. Almost every business closes down for the week and travel becomes nearly impossible. People will set up regular road blocks and have powder and water waiting for their victims. Usually they will ask for a bribe; you either pay or you'll be coated in powder and drenched with water. 4000 riel= one dollar. Marc Hall said he usually stocks up on 100 riel (.o25 cents) and gives them out if he doesn't want to get attacked; it doesn't take much. It's a lot of fun! I guess most of the road side markets capitalize on the celebration and sell 6-8 packs of talcum powder for a cheap price.

Recently, village children have begun waiting by the road with buckets of water to hit people passing by. No one in the villages owns cars, so they have no protection. Most ride bicycles or motorbikes and if several people need to get somewhere they usually ride on massive flat-bed carts pulled by a motorcycle (looks kind of like a hay ride). Yesterday, girls going home from the local garment factory were caught helpless by their young water wielding tormentors. But today the girls were ready for the onslaught with water balloons to fight back. The fun has just begun....
I need to finish my mural. I may work on it next week, but I have a feeling I may be a wet paste most of the time.