Out and About/Pushy Tuk Tuk drivers/BEST MOTO DRIVER EVER!

Third post, let’s do it!

Okay, so my first week is done and over with before I knew it! Phew! Only 8 more to go! These past 3 days have been crazy!! It’s been filled with a lot of walking, a lot of me getting horrifically lost, having to spend a lot of money, and getting my bicycle (which was an adventure in it’s own!).

Friday: My first day working in the office of CCPCR

So, Friday was my first day working in the office at CCPCR and I had no clue what to expect. I walk in and my boss, Mr. Thy, takes me to his office to explain to me what exactly I’d be doing and to confirm my schedule. I sit down in a  chair across from him, give him my full attention, smile, and begin to conversate. While talking, out of the corner of my eye I see the LARGEST cockroach I’ve EVER seen in MY LIFE!! It was so huge! It was the length of half my foot and about 1 1/2 inches wide! It took all my energy to, first of all NOT scream and turn my attention back to Mr. Thy, who apparently hadn’t noticed it. After struggling to pay attention to Mr. Thy and move my  bookbag inconspicuously(which the cockroach seemed to be encircling), I learned that I would be editing the English of some progress reports of projects on prevention of child labor in the Kampong Thom province. I was moved into the next office with another man and A/C blasting at my back. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I HATE being cold. I hate being cold so much that it motivates most of the decisions I make. When I was looking at schools, I was only seriously considering going to schools in California, Hawaii, or the South. Why? Guess. So, I was NOT a happy camper while in that office. It’s already hard enough to concentrate on my work while having the attention span of a 6  year old, but on top of that I had no one watching to make sure  I was doing my work, on my laptop, and freezing.  haha Now, don’t get me wrong, I did my work. But, facebook was a big deterrent. I was quite pleased when my moto driver came to pick me up. I guess I’m not an office-type girl. I prefer teaching at the orphanage. Another $5 down the drain. My moto driver charges me $4 for round-trip to the orphanage and $5 round-trip to the office  since the office is so much further. But, I planned on buying a bike so that I can bike to the orphanage and only spend $5 /week rather than $21.  If you’re confused as to what a moto driver is, think of it as someone with a motorcycle who will take you places on his motorcycle for a small fee. A Tuk Tuk is essentially a moto driver who has attached a small cart that is supposed to fit 4-5 normal sized Americans, but apparenlty like 10 Cambodians haha. EVERYONE has a moto here. And driving here is the scariest thing EVER! People go down the wrong street, no one pays attention to lights or stop signs, or lanes, or anything really. It’s like a free for all and the only rule is “Don’t Die”.

After work, went home and had a shower and watched this Korean drama I’ve been watching ever night with the mom of the house. If this Korean drama was in Korean, I’d have only a slight issue. But, it’s been dubbed in Khmer, so I have absolutely NO idea what is going on. But, still I watch. Then, I went out the the night market to meet up with some of the other volunteers (who live in the volunteer house) because I was invited by Thomas. I invited the other 3 girls in the house to come along because the Singapore girls had gone on a trip to Siem Riep! SO JEALOUS! So, we called a Tuk Tuk and went on our merry way. We were met by Thomas and he showed us to the lounge where the volunteers where chilling at. We were only going to stay for like 45 minutes, but others (not me) started drinking (all over the age of 21, believe me) and we were talking and ended up staying for like 2 hours!! It was a lot of fun. I went outside with Kit and Lucas ( a boy from China). Lucas decided to give Kit and I a brain teaser. Make 24 using 5,5,5, and 1. You can only use each number once and you can add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Let’s see if you guys can solve it. Here’s another one: 3,3,7,7. Good luck! haha While outside, Kit met some other Aussies and we had a lovely conversation with the 2 gents. I’ve discovered that all Aussies are quite LOUD and HILARIOUS!!! haha  After that, we caught a Tuk Tuk (after being basically attacked by like 4 Tuk Tuk drivers all wanting to drive us) and went home.

Saturday: My plan was to sleep in, but apparently that means sleeping til 8 am. I went down stairs and had a silent breakfast with the mom. She’s really just the CUTEST! I think she really likes me. She’s always trying to talk to me in Khmer and always trying to feed me. haha After I ate, I decided I would go out on my own and explore my surroundings. So, I grabbed my map, my water bottle, my bag, and my non-functional Samsung (for music) and set out on my way. I received so many smiles, waves, and “hellos” that I felt like a celebrity. After about 2 1/2 hours of walking I decided it was time to head down to the Russian Market to see if Kit and some of the other volunteers were there shopping (we had planned to go at 10). Plus, it started lightly rain. So, got the next moto driver who approached me to take me there. $3, so sad. Once at the Russian market,  I bought 2 BEAUTIFUL scarves. One for Jessica, because I promised to buy her one in Cambodia and Korea, and one for myself. Then, I walked for a bit and caught ANOTHER Tuk Tuk to the Volunteer house since I hadn’t ran into Kit or the others. As soon as I arrived at the volunteer house, Thomas tells me Kit and the others are STILL at the Russian Market and that there was a group of volunteers heading to the pool and that I should join. So, even though I didn’t have my swimsuit with me, I went along. We got there, beautiful pool I might add, but again, NO SWIM SUIT! So, I asked one of the staff if there was a place nearby that sold some. He gave me directions and I was off on my way to another ADVENTURE in Cambodia. So, the store he told me didn’t have swimsuits, so I kept walking looking for a store. I went to 4 others, 3 of which didn’t have any and the last one had some, but only in sizes XL or L. So, that was all in waste! So, on my way back, I decided I was going to take a short cut…..BAD IDEA!!! I got soooo horrifically lost it was not even funny. NONE of the street numbers made ANY SENSE. I ended up having to get a Tuk Tuk after walking for about 1 1/2 hours and HE got lost too. But, I arrived eventually and just sat in the shade and listened to music while others napped or chatted.

After wards, I got a moto back to the volunteer house for a MUCH NEEDED SHOWER!! I was so disgusting at the point. I changed and even put on a bit of make up for the first time in Cambodia. The night I had envisioned was going to be AMAZING! Steph, Emily, Sarah, and I hailed a Tuk Tuk for the second night in a row and were off to the Riverside near the Royal Palace. We arrived and learned that the other volunteers…..WEREN’T COMING!!! NOOOOO!!!! Already my night went down hill. But, I was determined to make this a good night. We found a place to eat and ordered some drinks. I ordered a Banana Hazelnut milkshake…probably the best decision of my life. It was so yummy! Then, we waited for like 45 minutes for our food to come out! I don’t know what was up with that, but I was starving~!! While we ate, Emily explained to Steph and I about her life working on cruise ships as a photographer and all the places she got to see. It was so fascinating! We were approached my some street kids selling little trinkets for money. It breaks my heart to see them have to live like that, but we were warned to not buy anything from them because it encourages them to stay on the streets and out of school. After our meal, we went to a travel agency to inquire how much it would be to rent a mini van to take 15 of us (IVHQ volunteers) to Siem Reap next weekend. Then, we went to a place that was much like YogurtLand. Or…hmm..any yogurt place where you choose your yogurt, choose your toppings, and then pay by weight. We sat and ate, got complimented on how beautiful we were (I got an extra compliment on my hair. Cambodians sure to love natural African hair haha). While we were eating, the girls were talking, but I kept seeing the poor children outside the store just staring at us. It was soooo heart-wrenching! I’m definitely not cut out for this!! I don’t know if I’ll ever get a tough skin. Afterwards, we found out that the hotel that Steph’s aunt (who just happened to be in Cambodia for like 3 days) was staying at then Tuk Tuk’d ourselves home.

Sunday: My mission for this day was to go out and buy a bike so that I could bike to the orphanage Mondays through Thursday and save $12 a week. I was informed by Steph, Sarah, and Emily to go to Orussey Market to buy a bike. So, I asked Pana for directions to Orussey Market and….decided to be lazy and read instead. haha I read for about 2 1/2 hours and then decided I had procrastinated enough. So, I prepared myself with: the map Pana gave me, my water, wallet, debit card (needed to withdraw money), pocket knife, and once again, my non-functional Samsung Galaxy S 2 for music. I walked all of about 15 steps before a moto driver pulled up next to asking me where I wanted to go. He seemed nice and strangely familiar, so I told him first Canadia Bank then Orussey Market. He said he’d charge me $7 and then we were off on our way. Little did I know that this moto driver would be the nicest person in the WORLD!!! He took me to Canadia Market (??) but thankfully there was a Canadia Bank ATM right next to it. Unfortunately, this ATM wasn’t working. Just my luck. So, my amazing moto driver took me to another Canadia Bank ATM ALL THE WAY ACROSS town. I got my money and then we were off to Orussey Market. We got there and Orussey market may have been the  BUSIEST place I’ve ever been in my life. I thought NEW YORK was bad. Nope. Not compared to this place. Anyway, my moto driver was trying to explain something to me, but I had absolutely NO idea what he was saying. So I paid him $7 , told him he could go and started to walk around. He still seemed confused, so I just left and started walking around. I, of course, ended up getting lost and utterly confused. I looked to my left and guess who it was? My MOTO DRIVER!!! He asked, “Buy?” I said, “Bike.” Then he pointed to these 2 boys riding bikes and I said, “Jaa”. And then he said something that started with a B and told me to get on. He took me ALL THE WAY TO ANOTHER part of town where he knew people who ran a bike shop of new bikes. I looked around briefly and chose a bike. I asked, “Thlai porng maarn?” and the shopkeeper typed $68 into her calculator.  “What do you have for $45?”, I asked. She said, “mien”. I told her that I only had $51. She said she give me the bike I wanted for $60. I said I only had $51. She said $55. I said I ONLY HAD $51. Then my moto driver said something and then all of a sudden, the lady told me to choose any bike I wanted. YESSSSSS!!! He’s awesome, right?! So, I chose this really cute red bike with a basket and a bell. Then my moto driver, bless his sweet heart, drove slowly on his moto while I followed behind him (QUITE SLOWLY) on my brand new bike that cost $51. Now, traffic in Cambodia is basically like playing a very dangerous game of froggy cross the road. Despite my slow-ness, the traffic, and the fact that we were SO far away from my house, he stayed in range the whole way. He had this very…amused look on his face as he watched me struggle the entire 1 1/2 it took us to finally get home. He even bought me a water bottle. When we finally got to my house, he just started to leave. HE WAS ACTUALLY GOING TO JUST LET ME PAY THE $7 I GAVE HIM EARLIER FOR ALL THE TROUBLE I PUT HIM THROUGH!!! Isn’t he just the sweetest? Of course, I wasn’t going to only give him $7 for everything he did. I called him over, ran upstairs and grabbed $5 more and gave it to him.

After that adventure, I was actually the dirtiest I had ever been in my LIFE! But, also EXTREMELY dehydrated. So, I stripped down to my underwear, sat in front of the fan and drank about a gallon of water. Then I had the most blessed shower of my life. There’s no hot water in my host’s house, so I can only take cold showers. Any other day, I hate taking showers because I hate taking cold showers. But, right then, it was like a piece of heaven! After my shower, I read some more, got on the family laptop a bit, and then was called down for dinner. After dinner, where I was the only non-Cambodian haha, I went back upstairs and read some more. The Singapore girls came back from Siem Reap and I went up and chatted with them. I told them about my many adventures the past few days and they told me about their trip to Siem Reap.  I told them about the group plan to go to Siem Reap next week.  There’s about 15 IVHQ volunteers (me included) renting a mini van and going to Siem Reap this Friday til Monday afternoon. They were flipping through their facebook pictures and I saw my AMAZING MOTO DRIVER!!! He was in a group of drivers that me, Cherrie, Singhui, and Patrina (the Singapore girls) ate a small meal on the side of the road one day with. THAT’S WHY HE SEEMED SO FAMILIAR! Anyway, I told them he was the nicest person in the world. Then, Steph, Emily, and Sarah came back from another night out and we chatted for a bit. At about 11 pm, I realized it was way past my bedtime haha. (my bedtime is usually 9 pm) So, I headed off to bed.

Monday: My first day biking to orphanage. Seeing as how I’m writing this, I obviously survived. My non-functional Samsung almost didn’t though. It dropped out of my pocket in the middle of the road without me knowing. If these 2 nice boys hadn’t of told me, it would’ve been run over. People here are so nice. 🙂 I got here and prepared for class. I decided I wasn’t going to teach using the horrible textbook  I was given. Instead, I taught my older girls body parts today using charades, drawings, and songs. I also played a vocabulary game with them. My beginner class I taught the Alphabet using songs and drawings. haha My first two classes I can proudly say were great successes. Much better than my disorganized classes last week. The textbook is so random and unorganized that my lessons make no coherent sense when I try to teach according to it. I hate it. Anyway, it’ll be lunch soon and then nap time. haha. Then, I’ll have my last 2 classes and get to bike BACK home. Fun. Not really…more like SCARY~  SEE YOU!!!

MISSION: EXPLORE PHNOM PENH BY MYSELF                                                            STATUS: ACCOMPLISHED

MISSION: GET HORRIBLY LOST                                                                                            STATUS: ACCOMPLISHED

MISSION: BUY A BIKE                                                                                                               STATUS: ACCOMPLISHED

First 3 days in Cambodia

This gallery contains 8 photos.

She’s one of my sweetest students. I don’t know her name and I can’t ask her because she can’t speak. She sat with me for over an hour 🙂 So, I’ve already been in Cambodia for 3 days and I’m loving this country. I like how easy going the vibe of Cambodia is. Also, the… Read more.

Awkward First Post

Hello! 안녀하세요! Salut! Uh, I’m pretty sure those are all the languages I have under my belt so far, so umm…hey?

This is my first post. Very first post. Yep, first. Okay, now what?

I’ve just placed myself in a really awkward position where I’m glad I made a blog and love talking to people and telling people things, but have nothing to say yet. Don’t you hate when that happens? Well, I seem to do that ALL the time. Well, I mean, not really much I can do about it. I haven’t actually LEFT to go to Cambodia or Korea yet.

OH! Wait. Where are my manners? I didn’t introduce myself. Sorry about that. I’m Minger Bropleh. I’m a junior at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA. Pretty soon I’ll be traveling to Cambodia for a Human Rights internship and immediately afterwards, going a hop, skip, and a jump (figuratively) to South Korea to study at Yonsei University.

Phew! A lot huh? I know. I’m really really REALLY excited to begin my travels, document my experiences, and meet new people!! If only Saturday would come faster!!

But, that means a solid year without my family, my friends, familiar faces, knowing where I am, eating foods I know, speaking my native language, and most of all, just walking down the street and not sticking out like a that annoying tag on your favorite shirt. That’s going to be rough…maybe I can wait for Saturday to come. That’s terrifying, honestly. What to do?

You guys will help me right? Encourage me? Give me advice? Right? The best friends are internet ones right? Where did I hear that? Hah…I love laughing at my own pity. Ah, oh well. I’ll make it. And even if I don’t at least you guys will know I tried. And DEFINITELY get a few laughs out of it.

If your traveling to any of these countries soon or are planning to, I’ll make sure to give you the heads up on things I notice. Helpful tips and whatnot. If you’re already in either of these countries then, well, HELP!!! Seriously guys!

Also, I’ll be starting a youtube channel to compliment this blog very shortly! Look out for it!!


MISSION: AWKWARD FIRST POST                                                            STATUS: COMPLETED