Sunday, June 28, 2015

Just a Saturday P-day

20 Jun 2015

I suppose that until we have had our fill of "seeing the city" we will continue to use our P-days to explore the city of Phnom Penh.   Today was the Russian Market (it is not called Russian Market because of any Russian culture that I could see.... not sure yet why it is called the Russian Market).  We also went to the Wat Phnom.

So we hired a TukTuk for the adventure.... Soo-ree was our driver. 

 We saw some interesting things on the way.... 
Lots of traffic..... notice this is a one-way street but there is a lone moto, which no one seems to be too alarmed that he is "GOING THE WRONG WAY"!  He just weaves in and out minding his own business!
And when you have gotten to the store you want... you just park on the sidewalk!
That goes for motos AND cars.... you just pull up on the sidewalk to park!  Those cars are just nosed up to the store fronts.   But we also saw .....

some of the beautiful walls they build to surround some of their homes or schools.
Of course, there is a modest family of 3 (we have seen as many as 6 on a moto) riding the moto and in the background are some monks out for a walk.  

We finally got to our destination....

The Russian Market

The Russian Market was hot, sweaty, crowded, and stinky!  It is an open air market with no air!   They have so many little shops in there that you can hardly walk or breathe.   Hundreds of little kiosks selling all sorts of touristy cheap crap.   (I MIGHT go back to buy some of that crap too!)  More crafts (wood carvings, toys, crafted chess sets, little elephants, buddhas, Wat replicas, etc.) than clothes.  Everywhere we go has some different smells to it.  The Russian Market was no exception.  We first saw ....
A lovely gathering of some non-distinguishable fruits or vegetables (not sure which) and some identifiable apples and oranges (that always makes ya feel good to see stuff you recognize).   Then we walked deeper into the market realizing that we had taken a questionable turn....
The odors became more unfamiliar and more pungent.   A few more steps and we were right in the middle of their FOOD COURT....
It didn't look like any food court we were used to but that's what it was.   This is what I saw to the left and to the right was some little woman gutting a 2-day old yellow looking chicken on the nasty floor.  I would have taken a picture but the smell was so fowl (no pun intended!) that we had to get out of there.  Elder Leavitt had already gagged 2 times and was on his way to more gagging!!  Problem was there are so many people that it was hard to "hurry".

Let me remind you that it was 90 degrees outside and most likely was 110 degrees inside that market.  Raw foods just sat out ready and displayed for purchase or cooking on the spot!

North American food courts will never be as interesting.   

 BUT there are some definite advantages.... like knowing what you are buying. 
We never returned to the food court.... but we did see this mother with her little girl.  The mother was running a kiosk but to help the little one stay cooled off  she just stripped her and poured water over her head.   The little girl was happy as she could be.   This woman was selling scarves. 
And right when you think you have seen it all.....
A guy on a moto goes driving down the isle!  Unbelievable!


Back on the TukTuk....

A Wat is a Buddhist temple.   Wat Phnom is located on the city's only natural hill.  It is at the highest point of the city, which really isn't very high.  It cost $1 to get in to what looks like a city park.  There are no fences, no gates, just a little booth that says you have to pay $1.   First thing I noticed was the cobblestones I was walking on. 
They looked old and worn enough to have been some of the original stones placed in 1372.   Then there is this grand staircase.
I wish I could take pictures well enough that it could capture the beauty and grandure.
We got to the top only to be greeted by these beautiful flowers ......
And this pot of burning incense.... It smelled wonderful.  We couldn't help but think that Larry needs one of these in his complex!
I think it was some sort of aroma theropy because you felt such peace and reverence.   We carefully went into the shrine where the Buddha sits.  Taking pictures didn't seem to be offensive.  They welcomed it.
It was crowded with big buddhas, little buddhas, animal carvings, incense smoke, and well placed money on the occasional idol just to give you a hint that buddha blessings cost a price.   There were people there praying too.  We were asked if we also wanted to pray.   We declined. 

Even the ceilings were beautiful..... a Buddhist's rendition of the Sistine Chapel.  
As beautiful as this shrine is, as much reverence that is displayed,

as many prayers that are uttered to the giant porcelain figure in hopes that a better life is just around the corner, it is filled with commercialism.

These birds were for sale but we were not for sure what they were used for... wishing I had paid more attention to "The Golden Child".  
And what would a Buddhist shrine be without a souvenir shop?  And you could also buy a Buddist blessing at the back of the shrine! 

It was an educational day.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Come See What I See......

16 June 2015

I'm not sure that pictures can really show you what I see but I will try. Our first Sunday (8 June) abruptly let us know we were no longer in Alberta.   We went with the Hollenzers to a small unit of the Duc Mao Branch.   There were just a handful of Saints there.  

Their little chapel was just an open air room filled with plastic chairs neatly in a row.   Obviously, their priesthood have been trained well in "chair placement".   4 Fans were well placed and circling around the congregation.   The chapel was on the ground floor right in the middle of a stilted-home neighborhood.   The first thing you do is leave your shoes at the door.  

There sat our 2 little priesthood holders at the sacrament table in bare feet.  
It included an outdoor washroom (the tin building in the background), of which they were very proud.

 They attached to me like glue.  The little girl on my right never left my side from the moment she got there.   It was fast and testimony day and there are so few people that of course almost everyone including Elder Leavitt and I stood to beare our testimonies.   When I had finished and was walking toward my seat, one sister asked me, "how old are you?"  This certainly caught me by surprise but I told them I was 61.  And they were all pleased to hear that.   It was explained to me that they need to know how old you are so that they can properly respect you according to age.   They all seemed to be surprised that I was 61 so that was good to hear!   

The Cambodians don't seem to be shy about asking questions.  Another sister asked how many grandchildren I have and are the fat or skinny?????   I didn't delve into that question any further!   

Then they were off on their motos. We stayed for a discussion with a family and the Elders.  I didn't understand 3 words of that discussion but I did recognize the Spirit that was there.   

The typical homes in that neighborhood didn't look like anything I had ever seen but the member's home that was right across from the chapel looked different from the others.   It was clean and orderly.  

We then went with the Elders to another young member's home to teach another discussion to his parents.  
We felt like we were deep in the jungle at this home.   We drove on a dirt road that really looked no more that a cow path!   But for him... this was home. 
This was the most beautiful Sunday that we have had in a long, long time.   

We are finding that Phnom Penh is a most interesting city.  At our home we have 2 different balconies.  Each facing very interesting streets.  This is what we see from our balcony... street vendors.  They open up shop on any corner or any piece of sidewalk they want. 

The electrical systems that are displayed everywhere should hardly be described as a "system".  It is the most archaic wiring I have ever seen. 

There are TukTuks everywhere... these are delightful taxis.

Some of the buildings are new and beautiful ....

but then they leave this aweful trash on the street for weeks.

You can see the beautiful buildings but also in between you can see some slums.  There seems to be no zoning laws.   Wherever there is land you build.  It doesn't seem to matter if there is an old run down building next door.  

Across the street is a tailor.... might go over there some day and see if they can make some skirts or shirts for me.  

Just a look to the left... 

Or a look to the right.... 

Gives such a diversity..... you hardly could tell it is the same city or even the same street.... but it is!   This is our Phnom Penh.  This is what we see and much more. 

Friday, June 12, 2015


 Where to begin.  Let's start here .... the last classes we had at the MTC.


We finished our office classes then we had to rush to the airport to catch our first leg of a VERY long flight.   Our Office Training was very helpful but it is now time to put it to the test!

We hung our card on the door of our MTC apartment and we were off!
We got a great send off at Brant's house from the Ariel, the boys, and Cia.   Asher gave us his scary  eyes!!!

And Brant took us to the airport!  

 After a LONG arduous flight across the ocean (14.5 hours), we were on our last leg of the flight ready to come into Phnom Penh.

 We are now in Cambodia and I am in awe everywhere I look. There are signs of  poverty and opulence everywhere.   Mostly it looks like poverty to me but I am not sure.   A way of life is very present.   The Cambodians seem to be happy with very little but in the same breath they seem to be scrambling about like an army of ants searching for more.  

As we flew into Phnom Penh ,we looked over the land and saw some very beautiful green spots in a land that is mostly brown.  The Mekong River is the brownest river I have ever seen.   It ribbons its arms in and out of the country like an old friend.  The Mekong water means life, even if it is brown.

As soon as we got off the plane in Phnom Penh the heat and the humidity hit you in the face with a great blast just to let you know who was boss!   It felt JUST like Oklahoma.... I knew I was back home.    I didn't just sweat for the rest of the day.... I PUDDLED!  It was awesome!

We were met not by just one couple but FIVE couples.   They all came to welcome us. 
Hollenzer, Hasslle, Leavitt, Meinzer, Oveson, VanBrocklin
Another thoughtful and warm welcome.    We then had our first driving experience in Phnom Penh on our way to the restaurant for lunch with all the couples.   Holy Smokes!   I could not believe what I was seeing.

Vehicles everywhere!   Small Moto (small motorcyles) with 3-4 people on it, Tuk-Tuks (open air cabs powered by motorcycle), cars, huge trucks, vans, etc.   They were all around you literally only inches away.

Motos were weaving in and out of cars like Shriners in a parade.  It seemed as though they were coming out of nowhere.   No one has any regard to street lane lines..... they are there but they mean nothing.   A street light may be red but the traffic still plows through, if they feel like it. Elder Leavitt got more and more overwhelmed with each minute knowing that shortly he would have to navigate the mission van in that mess of vehicular insanity.   That anxiety has not gotten any better in the last  week!

We had lunch with all the Sr. Couples.   Wonderful restaurant.  The food was terrific.   I had a Chicken Curry that was very tasty.
We even had some fun entertainment while we ate.  This girl was amazing to watch.  So beautiful.

 We went grocery shopping.  It wasn't much different than our stores.   A strange smell, a K&T-like fish counter, a few odd looking fruits, a lot of Khmer (ka-my)writting, but all in all not too different.
This was my first shopping till tape.

Last but not least, our apartment.... I was scared to death to open that door.  We were both very pleasantly surprised.

The rooms were huge.   Marble floors, air conditioning, TV, internet, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms.   

Each room has a king-size bed with a beautiful built-in armoire with a full length mirror.     (Although, that bed is so hard that it feels like you are sleeping on the marble floor!  )

The kitchen is very small.  Of all the space in this apartment they have had no regard to putting much space in the kitchens.   I can't figure that out.   But it is what it is.   In fact, it is a kitchen AND a laundry room all in one!  The little washer is in the kitchen.     

The living room is equally spacious.  it has a nice fake leather furniture with built-in bookcase and TV.  The TV and internet are included in the rent.  It is quite comfotable.

It has proven to be a very nice apartment.   We will only be in this apartment until late July then we move into the Office Couple's apartment which is only 3 doors down from the mission office.  That will be great for us.   This has been quite a BEGINNING!