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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sick of Thailand....as if!

And now the end, the end is near - and so i face a long bus journey..................more about that later.

Actually its the 21st June and i'm writing this in Phnom Penh, Cambodias Capitol, slowly updating 3 weeks worth of events - really I'd forgotten how long this took, I've just been and trained for the first time in that 3 weeks and feel quite ill - I've never been anywhere so polluted or poor for that matter. Its how I imagine india would be. People living on the streets and defacating on the streets, it makes me sad and actually unhappy at myself that i can complain about so many menial things. the Cambodians? I have never met a nation that complains less, I am yet to meet a Cambodian who hasn't been amazing in their own way! Actually I have been in tears at one point in the last 3 weeks and will eventually get round to why, but its also been an amazing place, that will never leave me, unfortunately for reasons of horror. However there have been some great times too, anyway back to where I left off...........

After leaving the muay thai camp and making the short flight to samui from phuket I wasn't feeling too good, so went pretty much straight to bed and hit the docs the next morning. The suspicion was Dengue fever so I bought a few DVD's and hit my bed for a few days. I said bye to the few people I wanted to say bye to and had a few farewell drinks and left on the longest journey of my trip so far.

10am my bus pickes me up to take me to the pier, for the 11am boat to donsak. At 1.30pm I board a coach for what was about a 3 hour drive to Surat Thani Train Station my overnight train to bangkok. I had a few hours to kill and arrived back at the trainstation only to find my train was delayed for what would eventually be 5 hours due to an accident. There isn't much to do in Surat Thani and still not feeling myself I was just wanting a bed and some sleep.......instead I was watching everyone in the station board trains headed for the same place i wanted to go and get to their beds while I waited in a deserted train station in a deserted town - Surat Thani is not a good place to get stuck! Really it couldn't have been planned better - my Ipod had broken the day before and I didnt have a book I hadn't read, it was a looooooong wait!

Well it eventually arrived and i had a nice comfortable bed made up for me in a dorm style carriage, on the lower bunk with my own window and a fan close by. It was noisy and, in truth, a bit smelly but I slept like a baby until about 8am when the noise from other passengers waking forced me to open my eyes! The remainder of the journey was spent watching the countryside pass bye, trying to photograph temples in the distance, and getting excited knowing I was about to return to Bangkok - a place I love, in small doses.
The train ride itself is an event, at each stop traders jump on with an array of food and drinks and are happy to have a bit of a laugh and a joke - you have tounderstand they can seem quite forceful but in reality there doing what they have to, just to stay alive in many cases. Engage them, have a joke - tyhe Thai people really know how to smile.

Eventually around noon I reached my hotel and just in time too, a thunderstorm of massive noise hit as soon as I got to my room, I had a bath! My first bath in 3 months, and i do love my baths, it was heaven and slept off the last of the groggyness either from the Dengue or the 24 hours of travelling and waiting around.

The Reclining Buddah was on my agenda for the next day, and you'll have to excuse me 'cos i have no idea what day it was, nor what day it is now, but beleive me thats not even a slight issue. The philosphy of Buddhism amazes me and i've had time on this trip to read alot about it, it was nice to see such an iconic statue and learn about the history of the temple (pictures will follow). My guide had me bowing and kissing floors all over the place. I had a nice end to the day, getting my fortune told by a Buddhist Astronomer, apparently my favourite colour is pink! I am sure anyone who knows me could of told him that! He was quite accurate in some things tho, I need to keep moving around until late 2009 (I had told him nothing of my trip) then find a job, but not in my home country and amongst other things i'll live till 81 - good to know eh?

Later on that day I was introduced to what have turned out to be a great group of people, who have made the time I have spent in Cambodia more special than I am sure it woould have been had I came alone. We went out for a good first night meal seen a baby elephant and after mentioning I was interetsted in an eye brow piercing and was promptly led into the next piercers we passed! (pierced eyebrow picture to follow). We had a few beers, and called it a night.

Early start the next day for our journey to the border of Cambodia, we had 2 minibuses between 14 of us, BIG leather seats, lots of room to stretch out and air con to keep us cool, I wondered what we'd be travelling in on the Cambodian side of the border........................
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Summer in Cambodia changed her life

BY LAURA ALBANESE

Willi Rechler admits that, before last summer, she had been a little selfish. The Jericho High School senior lived a moderately comfortable existence and, while always involved in philanthropy, hadn't so much seen how the rest of the world lived. All of that, she said, changed.

Rechler, who helped to found the Amnesty International Club in tenth grade, wanted to see firsthand the situations that concerned her. She joined a travel program with Putney Student Travel and booked a ticket to Cambodia, a country still recovering from the genocidal reign of the Khmer Rouge, not knowing what to expect.

"I went there with an open mind," she said. "What I learned in Cambodia changed me. I have a different perspective on the world."

She learned about the effect of genocide and was particularly struck by the lack of medical care. She also saw a community struggling to grow out of its past difficulties and progress toward modernization.

"It really gives me a lot of hope," Rechler said. "Before I went, I tried to be compassionate and watch documentaries, but this is a whole other perspective."

What she saw, she said, has made her involved in the situation in Darfur and motivated her to petition for inclusion of genocide studies in the curriculum. Jericho recently started offering the class.

"One of the best moments was my brother coming home and yelling at me because he had a test on the curriculum," she said. "When I have a decision to make on anything, I just think about what I learned and it makes me want to make the world a better place."

Similar sentiments have also led her to organize the Cambodian Children's Fund, a fundraiser that raised over $4,000. Rechler also hopes to continue her studies of different cultures at Yale, where she'll be attending this fall.

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Chinese companies to build hydro-power plants for Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, June 21 (Xinhua) -- The China National Heavy Machinery Corporation (CNHMC) has signed BOT agreements with the Cambodian government to build the Stung Tatay hydro-power plant in Koh Kong province, according to the Chinese Embassy here Saturday.

CNHMC will construct the project of 246 megawatts in five years at 540 million U.S. dollars, according to the agreements signed here Friday.

After the construction is completed, CNHMC can still operate the plant on the Tatay River for 37 years to generate electricity and sell it to the Cambodian government. When the BOT period terminates, the plant will be transferred to Cambodia.

The Cambodian government approved the project on June 13 in order to obtain more electricity, help maintain appropriate power price and promote economic growth and development of the country.

On the same day, the Cambodian government also gave green light for China's Michelle Corporation to build the Stung Russey Chrum Krom hydro-power plant of 338 megawatts in the same province at 495.7 million U.S. dollars.

Both projects will also harmonize with the people's living conditions there and the overall development of those areas, according to a government statement.

Cambodia has been in extreme shortage of power. Electricity even sells one U.S. dollar per kwh in some rural areas.

The government has been pursuing a strategy to develop hydro-power projects along the Mekong River to meet the desperate demand for electricity.
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A boost for Cambodia's health system

The World Bank says it supports implementation of Cambodia's new Health Strategic Plan.

The plan aims to improve healthcare and preventive health with particular emphasis on women, children and the poor.

The bank's office in Phnom Penh says it will give Cambodia's government a 30 million US dollar credit to support the program from this year to 2015.

The other donors include, Australia, Britain, the U.N.and France.

Cambodias's secretary of state at the Ministry of Health, Eng Huot, says there have been improvements in the health of Cambodians over the past decade.

However, several challenges remain, including a high rate of women dying in childbirth, poor nutrition, high healthcare costs and the rise of non-infectious diseases.
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