As we near our final four days, the Cambodian students here at AUPP are making their way to the U.S. After class, Moniphal, Dara, and I had a quick chat with them about Umass Lowell. We hope they will come to U.S. and hopefully we can make them feel at home just like they did for us.
National Pride among Cambodian Youth: Cambodia Vs. Afghanistan for FIFA 2018 Qualification
Last Tuesday night on June 16th, we went to a “football” game between Cambodia vs Afghanistan, it was one of the four game qualifying games for FIFA World Cup 2018. The game was hosted at the Olympic Stadium, where most international and national sports events are usually held. Despite its name, the stadium never held an Olympic game due to its capacity. It can seat 50,000 people, but that did not stop hundreds of Cambodian youth from flocking into the stadium to watch the football game. The stadium was packed, every seat were filled and many people were standing up to watch the game. All around the stadium, the flags of Cambodia from all sizes could be seen waving in the air, people dressed in blue and red representing the colors of the flag, most people were wearing the official football shirts that the players wear. It was an electrifying experience for me, I never did wave more than 10 times during a sport event or clap in rhyme with a drum for the whole game or jumped up and cheered every time the ball was on the Afghan side of the field or when the Afghan players missed the goal. Cambodian people, especially the youth, strongly support their national football team, the stadium are always packed for every football game, even though they know that the team is not at the high level of performances like other countries’ team around the world yet. They have high hope for the team and other national teams as the new Action plans are being implementing by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to get the teams ready for the SEA Game. The result was 0-1 with Afghanistan’s victory.
Life on the Water
On our very last day of our trip to Siem Riep, we decided to make it a relaxing day. I had some crickets for the first time, which didn’t taste too bad, but was very crunchy. Haha. Afterwards, we took a boat ride to see the floating villages. At the floating village, the Vietnamese villages and Cambodian villages are split on the river. This is seen from the different design of their home. Also, their water reminds me of my Dunkin Donuts ice coffee. Maybe, I’m just missing DD’s really bad. 🙁
The Journey to Siem Reap
We were trapped on a bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap for 7 hours. The journey was long and tiring but the scenery from out the window was gorgeous. The provinces and atmosphere were totally different compared to what I’ve been getting used to here in Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh has more of a westernized, city life vibe whereas heading to Siem Reap seemed a lot more simplistic. I really got a good look at how people were living in the country side. Stopping by at local restaurants and pit stops really gave me a feel for “true” Srok Khmer. It was a great experience overall and I’m hoping to travel back to Siem Reap again in the future.
Waking up at 4 o’clock in the morning in order to be ready by 4:45 to see Angkor Wat before sunrise was definitely a questionable experience for me. Regardless, I loved how beautiful the three towers were against the pinky hued sky. I was able to purchase a painting of the temple for only five dollars! Learning about the history of Angkor Wat and what it took to build the temple really opened my eyes to the history of Cambodia. Being built in the 12th century, I could not help but think about the changes in technology, machinery, and transportation over time. The fact that they used elephants and boats to transport slabs of stone and carved everything by hand has me floored. Numerous amounts people from all over the world have walked where I walked during the tour.
FIFA World Cup Cambodia vs Afghanistan
I attended my very first soccer/football game on June 16. I’m usually not one to pay much attention to anything sports related, but being in the arena everyone else’s energy totally rubbed off on me. I found myself screaming at the top of my lungs rooting for our team to score. Unfortunately, we kind of didn’t but it was still an amazing experience. I’m still proud of my team regardless.
During our second weekend in Cambodia, my roomies and I took a five hour bus ride to Sokha Beach resort in Sihanouk ville. The beach resort was lovely and the atmosphere was incredibly relaxing. We were there for 2 nights and each night was a fun mini getaway. Each day was spent walking down to the beach area and swimming at the pool. It was a memory I’ll honestly never forget.
Visiting the royal palace was such an unreal experience. The architecture of the buildings, the scenery, the greenery was all stunning. Although we arrived near closing time, we were still given the chance to walk inside one of the buildings filled with ancient silver artifacts and tiling. Everything was beautiful. We were also anotheraccompanied by another aupp student and new friend.
We visited the s-21 site where victims of the Khmer Rouge were interrogated. It had been roughly ten years since the last time I’ve visited the museum and I still have the same eerie feeling I had the first time I visited. It was heartbreaking for me to think about the individuals and families that had to go through this process of being tortured. In this picture are the 14 people who were found alive, but killed when Vietnam discovered the prison. I couldn’t help but think about what my parents had to go through during this time, they’ve always told me stories of their experience.
Book in Cambodia? Bargaining in Cambodia?
In my very first day shopping in Cambodia, the very first market I went to is a local market in the Tuol Sleng Area. The first thing I was fascinated is the books they were selling. I was very curious what kind of books they sell in a foreign country. While I was checking the book lying on top of the front desk, the lady was pressuring me in buying the books right away. Obviously, this is a common method in every Cambodia flea markets that they are really hasty in making you buying the souvenir. Nonetheless, looking through all the books in the market, majority of them are in English texts and the subject of the books are history contexts about the Angkor and the Khmer Rouge era. They were novels all about the Khmer Rouge era. One of the Cambodian local asked if they are any books written in Khmer. The merchandiser said they are none. It somewhat uncommon to find any texts written in Khmer from its original novel or any text translated to Khmer. It sparked my mind that they are some Cambodians who are interest in reading book other than just magazines or local newspapers. Although they are many young Cambodians in the urban city can speak and read English fairly well, in my opinion, I feel like it’s unfair for many Cambodians who wanted to be academically smart for those who are incapable in learning second language. Us Americans, we are really fortunate in having many books and novels in our local bookstore to redeem our knowledge. I like to read to book cause’ it keep my brain in good shape plus I simply enjoy it. I just wish they have more novels or books translated in Khmer, so that way it might enhance educational values in Cambodia. Anyway, back to my shopping experience, I was ready to purchase four books. The lady was using a calculator and charging me $10-15 for each of the books plus the t-shirt. Altogether, it was $65. Now, I had never heard of bargaining until after I purchased the items. I had totally forgotten about how the flea market is willing to rip-off foreigners with ridiculous prices. She knew I was American with an American money cause’ I look like one and I speak like one. I could have it all for simply $15. Yes, that’s truly inexpensive since Cambodia has the lowest economy. Bargaining in Phnom Penh is not easy for foreigners to get a good deal. You need to disguise yourself in speaking Khmer fluently and looking like a Khmer native. Well, at least it is a funny experienc shopping in Phnom Penh.