...school and Pub Street
13.11.2011 - 19.11.2011 27 °C
So I was very excited about the prospect of writing this week’s blog and starting off with something like “well finally I have completed a full week of school”. Alas, on Thursday afternoon I hit a wall and was sick, so had to miss the last two periods of school…so I will aim for next week!
It’s weird, this week I have been in Siem Reap the whole time and not done anything out of the usual, which is going to school followed by going to Pub Street, but I honestly don’t know where the time’s gone! Last Sunday night we decided to go out for a quiet last dinner with Fran seeing she was leaving Siem Reap the next day. It did start off quiet to be fair, due to a rather late night the night before, but then we decided to go to Ankgor What? Bar for “one last bucket”. Liam, the bartender there who used to work with Fran said seeing it was our “last bucket” he’s make it “extra strong for us”. Amelia, Courtnay and I all tried it, and were like “yeah, that’s pretty strong” but were still happy to go along with it, until Fran tried it and was like “guys, there’s only vodka in that, no red bull!” We would have been more than happy to just drink it straight apparently! Oh and it actually turned out to be our second last bucket, but who’s counting anyway…
Monday was school, the first day in the Monkey Class without Teacher Fran as well! Then Monday night was Julie’s birthday, who is one of the older volunteers staying here, so we all went out for dinner at Soria Moria’s, a hotel down the road from us, where we had to splurge as prices were $2 for a cocktail and $4 for a main meal! We were so close to heading into Pub Street after that as well, but we decided to be civilized and not…which is funny as it turns out it was the only night we haven’t been in there all week!
Tuesday, was school again, then Pub Street.
Wednesday was school and then Pub Street. However, in between that was $1 tapas for dinner at Soria Moria, our Wednesday night ritual. At this boutique hotel down the road from us every Wednesday night they have trainee wait and kitchen staff, so they have a tapas menu where everything, including all cocktails is $1 – it’s unbelievable! We basically have a standing booking there. It’s also really cool, as because last time I was here working at Anjali House I taught the oldest class, some of those kids work there on $1 night, so I still get to see them. It’s funny, because the first time I went there they recognized my face but couldn’t remember my name, so they just exclaimed “Teacher!”
I can’t remember why now, but school was awesome on Wednesday, the night after we’d gone out, so we had the epiphany that if we can feel that good at school after going out, why not go out every night right?!
Thursday was school, where admittedly I felt pretty sick all day, but did manage to go the whole time except for the last two hours. Besides from breakfast really, it is basically cheaper to eat out here than to cook for yourself at home, so we headed to this place called Under Construction close to where we live for dinner. However we met a couple of English guys we know down there, one of them who is the music teacher at our school, so all out good intentions headed out the door, and once again we were on Pub Street. Luckily I actually did feel well enough for school the next day…
Friday, we have discovered, is pretty much always going to be dance party day at school. So it looks like that’s our exercise day, when we go to school and dance for six hours straight! The first lesson usually starts off with good intentions, where we review what we have learnt during the week, but then I think it’s because Courtnay’s class has music in the afternoon, and her Khmer teacher Chansip is obsessed with Western music (he is always downloading songs onto his phone and getting her to translate them…which is quite awkward when it’s like an Akon song and every second lyric is a swear word). So he just hooks up his phone to this speaker, and eventually the whole school migrates towards her classroom and has a rave. We were showing some of the other volunteers a video of it the other day, and they were like “wow, it actually is a day rave at your school”…hilarious. There are of course the staple songs, being The Lazy Song, Party Rock Anthem, On The Floor (by Jennifer Lopez) and the Khmer song I think I was talking about last week (which I have discovered is called Yoyo Yaya – so now I know most of the lyrics – yay!) but then sometimes Chansip branches out and puts on other songs that are on his phone. I say to him “Chansip, there are some very bad words in these songs”, and his reply was “Yes, but they don’t know English so that’s ok”. So, um, what are we doing there?!
During music classes on Thursday and Friday, Teacher Jack, this English guy who’s been volunteering in Siem Reap for about a year, (and who coincidently we saw out on Thursday night) comes in and plays the guitar with the kids, teaches some of the older kids how to actually play the guitar, and sings very PG songs compared to what is played at the weekly dance party, such as Hello, Goodbye by The Beatles (which is pretty much the ABCs and Rice anthem now…I can’t say hello to anyone now without wanting to sing “hello, hello!”), Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog, and Let’s Twist Again. However, Friday was his last day which is awesome because whenever someone leaves it means we get to spend an hour making them goodbye cards, which consists of the Khmer teachers writing Cambodian-English phrases on the board and the kids copying them down and drawing pictures. They write stuff like ‘good luck for you’ and ‘I love you teacher’, and it’s the only time I don’t have the heart to correct the poor English. Anyway, for some reason Jack was late on Friday (he swore it had nothing to do with being out the night before!) so to improvise before he got there, Headmaster Purim said we should start off the dance party! Then when Jack got there, all the kids literally ran out of the classroom and swarmed to him with their card and crowns and necklaces and whatever else it was they had made for him, it was so cute. They by the time he actually got to sitting down and playing the guitar, he was like “ok, what songs do we want to sing?” and one of the little boys from my class yelled out “on the floor, Jennifer Lopez!”
Friday night was the ABCs and Rice quiz night, which with all of the NGOs in town are a dime a dozen and apparently quite a competitive market. ABCs hold their quiz at the restaurant Chilli’s, which is part owned by Matt, Tammy’s partner and I guess he’s like the 2IC of the school. We were the only group of younger people there, and out of the five teams, we finished a respectable 5th…is it a worry that we’re the one’s who are supposedly teaching the kids English? I hope Tammy doesn’t fire us! However, there was a raffle as well and of all things I won a pottery class for two people, so at some stage Courtnay and I are going to go and get our pot on!
Then, surprise surprise, after that we went to Pub Street, and for some reason we all went our different ways that night, and it is quite hard to locate people once you lose them see both Courtnay and I don’t have phones (Courtnay got hers ‘stolen’ Sihanoukville – although, I would say she lost it…) However, we are a well oiled machine, and as arranged everyone rendezvoused the next day at 1200 hours at what we call ‘all day happy hour, non-food poisoning place’. There are these little restaurants in the Old Market around the corner from Pub Street, that we don’t know the name of and who claim to have happy hour from 8am until 10pm…why don’t they just say it as it is and call it all day happy hour?! They are so good and cheap, plus they have the best fruit shakes in all of Siem Reap and they are only 50 cents! But when Amelia and Courtnay were sick they reckon they got it from one of those places, so now we just stick to the non-food poisoning place. We go there everyday for lunch, I’d say we have fruit shakes there on average twice and day, and I reckon we also spent a good four hours there yesterday!
This other girl from Melbourne (Mairead – pronounced like parade with an M as she says) got to Globalteer the day we left for Sihanoukville last week. She’s 18 like Amelia but volunteering at another school here (and goes to Monash Caulfield of all places), and apparently the whole week we were away, all of the other older volunteers at the house were like “watch out for those three girls, they’re crazy you know, they go out all the time, they never sleep…blah blah blah”…to which she pretty much replied AWESOME! So it’s a bit weird, but Amelia, Courtnay and I like to set each other random challenges, so we set Mairead an ‘initiation challenge’ at all day happy hour, non-food poisoning yesterday, which was to ask for the bill without making any sound and not moving anything but your face. Seriously it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. She’d always be like “I’ve got it, I’ve got it” and they’d come over and bring it to the table next to us or behind us, only to have a very loud reaction from us which made everyone else there think we were nuts. Some people asked us what we were doing, but apparently they didn’t find it as funny as we did. Anyway, I’m happy to report that in the end she did get it: challenge successful! Seriously, you should try it some time…
Then last night was Amelia and Ian’s, this other older volunteer from our house’s goodbye dinner, seeing it’s both of their last weekends in Siem Reap. We branched out and went to this place called Red Piano, which I think Angelina Jolie had something to do with when she was here in 2000 filming Tomb Raider. They have a Tomb Raider cocktail, naturally Ms Jolie’s favourite, and for every 10th one they sell they ring this huge bell and you get one for free! Amelia wanted her last weekend out to be a glitter theme, but it turns out that Siem Reap is not huge on glitter, so we changed it too buying party Ray Bans, and you had to buy the same colour Ray Bans as the clothes you were wearing out that night. We also bought water spray bottles just for fun, and so then when we walked along Pub Street, every person that says “tuk tuk lady” or “fish massage lad” we just squirted with the water bottle…best was to not get hassled and they all thought it was hilarious! However, some of the Westerners don’t have quite the same sense of humour as the Khmers…this one huge girl in Ankgor What? Bar last night ripped my water bottle off me, emptied it over Amelia’s head and tackled me against the wall…seriously she needs to lighten up…literally and figuratively!
So yes…that was my week pretty much! Amelia’s boyfriend from home, Henry, got here on Friday night so tomorrow is her last day at school and then she’s leaving Siem Reap on Wednesday ☹ Courtnay and I have decided to go and meet her somewhere next weekend though so it won’t be as bad saying goodbye on Wednesday. And the one good thing is that it means two hours of card making tomorrow! We are going to get the kids to write on her cards “Teacher Amelia is crazy!”