What is more exciting than riding side-saddle on the back of a motorbike?
I don’t think anything could possibly be more exciting (scary?)! Especially as you go zooming through the hectic traffic of an Asian city. But I haven’t yet seen any accidents, so I have some trust in the “system”.
This past week our program manager has been in town from the headquarters office in DC, which is great because it means I have a friend to join me for meals and fun adventures around the city. We have been trying out all of the local restaurants by the office, so now I know of some great places. There is also a beautiful riverfront area in Phnom Penh that has a great strip of restaurants and shops with nice views of the water.
On Tuesday we traveled with the country program director to Kampot, a town about three hours south of Phnom Penh that is right by the Gulf of Thailand. The drive was great, as you transition from the city to the countryside- dotted with farms and rice paddies. As we arrived in Kampot Province we drove by the Gulf, which was beautiful! We met with the local program manager for our Kampot programming and went to a local spot for dinner. Khmer food is served as a number of dishes and a big bowl of rice that are shared by everyone. We had fish soup (delicious, with fresh pineapple, just watch out for bones!), shrimp (again, watch out for the shell and head!), crab (apparently the teeth of Cambodians are much stronger than ours- they eat the entire crab, shell and all… crunch, crunch, crunch), rice and vegetables. It seems through my current and past travels that most other cultures prefer to eat meats and seafood in a form that is more recognizable as being an animal. Some may say this is better as you have a truer sense of what you are eating. I say it could drive anyone to vegetarianism.
After dinner we drove to a Malaria Week event being held in a rural village about 45 minutes from Kampot. To give some background on the program– PFD currently operates malaria prevention activities in Cambodia (although we also just finalized an agreement for working with a microfinance institution that provides loans for agricultural development). The malaria prevention activities include a variety of training and educational programs, bed net distribution and reimpregnation with insecticide, support of local health departments, etc. The activity we were visiting in Kampot was in relation to Malaria Week- these are week long programs that occur a few times each month during the dry season (October through June). Our Village Health Volunteers and Village Malaria Workers hold entertainment nights where a 30 minute video educating the community on malaria is played, then a 20 question quiz show is held where people have the opportunity to win soaps and washing detergent, and then a movie is played. This is a great way to reach out to community members of all ages as rural villagers enjoy going to a local venue to watch a movie, television or sporting event in the evening.
We arrived to the event around 8pm as the educational video spot was beginning. Just in case it rained, the event was being held under a pagoda at the local Buddhist temple, so the location was beautiful! Throughout the video and quiz show I walked around and took pictures…
The next morning Maja and I walked down by the river that runs by Kampot town and found a cute little restaurant where we had delicious juice and crepes. Around 9 we went to visit a local health center management committee to determine what they are currently working on and how we can support them in the future. After the meeting we drove back to Phnom Penh and arrived in time for lunch. The rest of the week was busy with meetings and working on program documents.
I would love to hear what you have been busy with!