3rd post of 10: Favorite Cambodian memories

As I started my 101 entry, I thought I should do something fun. Inspired by Polly, I have decided to make 10 lists of 10; here is number 3.

  1. That moment as the plane is descending everywhere I look there are puddles and ponds and water– often filled with rice or lily paddies. The contrast of the red earth and the green vegetation.
  2. The rain. Everything about it. The sound, the way it cleans the air, the flash flooding (including walking home knee or waist deep in rain water), the sheer force the water has– it has not ceased to amaze me.
  3. Angkor Wat- I know its cliche, but it was very impressive. Especially in the rain and out at the further away temples.
  4. Two Dolphins, little cabanas in Sihanokville right on the Gulf of Thailand with the best fresh seafood around. We managed to convey that it was Lydia’s birthday. The bought a cake (and silly string) and we surprised her.
  5. Massages after a long day work. My favorite place was Aziadee Tea
  6. Elsewhere parties– the first one with the Germans, the one where I met Steph, Justin, Cecile and crew (and spent the night trying to remember sign language), and this last one where we never went home and I got pulled into the pool.
  7. L-Word Wednesday night with the girls!!!
  8. Seeing boats in the middle of fields without water in site and knowing that in a few months, when the rains came, they would be afloat.
  9. The sound of dragon dancers coming (as long as it was not before 8am).
  10. Perusing the venders outside the Royal Palace at night. They sold such a huge array of large insects (spiders, cockroaches, grasshoppers, leaches, bees, etc.), fried insects, stuffed insects, and small birds.

2nd list of 10: What I need to do before I leave Cambodia for good on Wednesday

As I started my 101 entry, I thought I should do something fun. Inspired by Polly, I have decided to make 10 lists of 10; here is number 2.

  1. Work stuff: clean off desk, uninstall programs from computer, reinstall programs on computer, say good-bye.
  2. Project stuff: get a final copy of the book (about 178 pages), set aside 6 hours to edit it on Tuesday.
  3. Money stuff: close out bank account, pay lady at market that I owe 10 dollars, pay tailor who made me 2 dresses and a suit.
  4. Housing stuff: pay landlady, hand in key, move out (Tuesday night to my friend’s place for my final night).
  5. Transport stuff: find way to airport in Phnom Penh, figure out what I am doing, where I am going, and how I am getting there once I arrive in St. Louis.
  6. Stuff stuff: get odds and ends I am leaving here (my gas stove, etc.) to my friend Samnang who is extremely ill with malaria and completely bedridden.
  7. Shopping stuff: I need a case for my DVDs and possibly a new CD or two. And a pair of pants for Diane for her birthday because she came back from Guatemala 6 years ago with big purple pants for me.
  8. Friend stuff: See friends. Get photos from friends.  Give photos to friends.
  9. More stuff: Pack and somehow make everything fit! Sleep if at all possible.
  10.  Final stuff: Leave!

1st list of 10: What I plan to make lists of 10 about

As I start my 101 entry, I thought I should do something fun. Inspired by Polly, I have decided to make 10 lists of 10.

My first list will actually be a list of the 10 topics I plan to blog about:

  1. What I plan to make lists of 10 about
  2. What I need to do before I leave Cambodia for good on Wednesday
  3. Favorite Cambodian memories
  4. Favorite foods I eat in Cambodia (not all necessarily Cambodian)
  5. 10 blogs I read regularly and why
  6. Blogging as a form of communication
  7. Reasons I am excited about my new job in Chile
  8. Facts about human trafficking
  9. Things I need to do when home in States for 17 days
  10. Reasons why you should read my NEW blog that I will be keeping from Chile (and the new blog’s URL address so you can link to it)

Help for Moldova (Please write a letter)

First I want to thank Jerry, another former Moldova Peace Corps volunteer for bringing this to my attention.

I am posting this in the hopes of getting help for Moldova to free its self from the occupying Russian forces that have been there since 1991. The Foreign Affairs Committee plans to mark-up the Moldova resolution (H.Res. 457, see the attached draft) calling on the Russian Federation to withdraw its military forces, armaments, and ammunition stockpiles from the sovereign territory of the Republic of Moldova. We have very little time — the deadline for getting additional co-sponsors is next Tuesday, which is July 26, 2007! Besides 10 co-sponsors listed below, we still need to secure 15 more co-sponsors (seven of which must be members on the Foreign Affairs Committee — see below the list of its members).

Anything that you can do in the next few days will be absolutely crucial in
getting this resolution passed.

PLEASE contact your representative as soon as possible and urge them to progress this bill.

The text and status of this legislation can be found on the following link:


You can find contact details (phone and e-mail) for your respective representatives on the following link:


List of Co-sponsors of the House Resolution 457:

Shelley Berkley (D-NV)
Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Thaddeus G. McCotter (R-MI)
Collin Peterson (D-MN)
John Shimkus (R – IL)
William Shuster (R-PA)
Tom Tancredo (R-CO)
Chris Smith (R – NJ)
Luis G. Fortuño (R-PR)

* * *

List of members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of

Tom Lantos, Chairman, California, 12th District

Howard L. Berman, California, 28th District
Gary L. Ackerman, New York, 5th District
Eni F. H. Faleomavaega, American Samoa
Donald M. Payne, New Jersey, 10th District
Brad Sherman, California, 27th District
Robert Wexler, Florida, 19th District
Eliot L. Engel, New York, 17th District
Bill Delahunt, Massachusetts, 10th District
Gregory W. Meeks, New York, 6th District
Diane E. Watson, California, 33rd District
Adam Smith, Washington, 9th District
Russ Carnahan, Missouri, 3rd District
John S. Tanner, Tennessee, 8th District
Gene Green, Texas, 29th District
Lynn C. Woolsey, California, 6th District
Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas, 18th District
Joseph Crowley, New York, 7th District
Ruben Hinojosa, Texas, 15th District
David Wu, Oregon, 1st District
Brad Miller, North Carolina, 13th District
Linda T. Sanchez, California, 39th District
David Scott, Georgia, 13th District
Jim Costa, California, 20th District
Albio Sires, New Jersey, 13th District
Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona, 8th District
Ron Klein, Florida, 22nd District
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida, 18th District
Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey, 4th District
Dan Burton, Indiana, 5th District
Elton Gallegly, California, 24th District
Dana Rohrabacher, California, 46th District
Donald A. Manzullo, Illinois, 16th District
Edward R. Royce, California, 40th District
Steve Chabot, Ohio, 1st District
Thomas G. Tancredo, Colorado, 6th District
Ron Paul, Texas, 14th District
Jeff Flake, Arizona, 6th District
Jo Ann Davis, Virginia, 1st District
Mike Pence, Indiana, 6th District
Joe Wilson, South Carolina, 2nd District
John Boozman, Arkansas, 3rd District
J. Gresham Barrett, South Carolina, 3rd District
Connie Mack, Florida, 14th District
Jeff Fortenberry, Nebraska, 1st District
Michael T. McCaul, Texas, 10th District
Ted Poe, Texas, 2nd District
Bob Inglis, South Carolina, 4th District
Luis G. Fortu?o, Puerto Rico
Gus Bilirakis, Florida, 9th District
* * *

Happy Birthday America

Casachevici 4th of July, originally uploaded by coming2cambodia.

July 4th, 2002, my first Moldovan host family threw a birthday party for the United States at 6am. Cake and vodka were served.

Pictured: Mihai, Clare, Ioana
Location: Piatra, Moldova

The car: A play in two acts


M- a young Canadian who works for a UN agency

G- her mechanic, a local bloke


Somewhere in Phnom Penh outside M’s apartment and inside her car, a 1990s Toyota.

Act 1:

M runs through the rain and into her car. She turns the key. Nothing happens. She turns the key again. Again nothing. 

M makes a phone call.

M: My car won’t start. I must have left the lights on. Can you come now? I really need to get to work.

G- (voice from offstage) Be right over.

Time passes and M fixes her hair. She stares out the window at the light rain. G arrives.

G- Can you pop the hood.  Let’s see whats going on.

Pop sound as hood opens.

G- Yep, I see the problem.

M gets out of car and takes a look.


Once the hood is open it is clear that M’s battery has been stolen.


Act II:

A couple weeks later. M runs out of her apt to her car. It is night and she is going to meet friends. She gets in the car and turns the key. Nothing. She tries again. Nothing. M gets out of the car and pops the hood. 

M- SH*T (as she opens the hood to revel that the battery has again been stollen)


*** Note this play is based on a true story***

Hyphen usage

I am finishing up a manual that is going to print before I leave Cambodia (no I did not author it, but I have worked a lot on it).  So, it went to a graphic designer to fix the final odds and ends (for example, because the text is justified, at some places the spacing got weird).  Today I got back the sample from the designer… and it is driving me batty!  To fix the spacing problem, he just threw in a hyphen haphazardly so that the text would wrap.  Here are some examples of why my head is spinning:

  • gro-wing
  • ch-ildren
  •  chil-d’s
  • ano-ther
  • howev-er
  • assig-ned

*** This is definitely one of those posts where I wish I was embellishing to make the post more interesting.  But these are actual examples found over the course of the first 2 chapters (and not all the mistakes and there are 10 chapters plus appendices).

Why men suck– a response

A while back I read a piece called “Why men suck (and the women who have to)” in The F Word, Contemporary UK Feminism. The article was written by a woman who had come to Cambodia to teach English and has slowly realized that sex tourists and foreigners supporting the sex industry were not just gross old men, but “in reality, almost all of my male work colleagues were part of ‘the scene’. These men could have been any one of my male friends from England: they were young, intelligent, and, how can I say it? Well, normal. Scary as it sounds, it is a statement that has stuck with me because of the truth I see in it. I have very few male friends here. Let me rephrase. I have two: one of them is 9 and thinks girls have cooties, the other is the only decent guy I have met here (and yes, I am making a blatant judgment about how I feel about western, self proclaimed liberal men, who use the sex trade here). That said, maybe I am being unfair. There must be other men who come here and do not partake; I just don’t know where they are.

On a related note, I find it disturbing how many of the people who work in counter-trafficking and women’s empowerment programs (local and international), visit brothels and take home taxi girls. How do they not see a discrepancy between their work and their own behavior? How do you stop a system, break it down, when you also fund it?

Back to the main thread. There is one other piece/ analogy from the article that has stuck with me:

I soon learnt that the virgin/whore dichotomy is quite literal in Cambodia, with girls staying ‘pure’ until they are married and boys paying for sex from a relatively young age (16 is a rough guess). The fact that men pay for sex is totally accepted and, surprise surprise, it’s not the men who suffer for their actions but the prostitutes, or taxi girls, as they are known. As one friend put it, “sex is like going to the toilet, it’s not pleasant but it’s necessary”: The taxi girls (who come from very poor families and whose pay often contributes to the communal family income) have the unenviable status of a social toilet.

It’s the last part of this—the necessity of sex that strikes me. It’s something that I have heard repeated by male, liberal, western men as an excuse. As if it somehow justifies using another person. And the girls, they ones who take on all the blame, who are humiliated, tortured, tormented, hurt, subjected to disease—in so many ways are the proverbial toilet seat. It makes me sick to think about. It makes me sad.

What are your thoughts?

Some facts about prostitution in Cambodia (citations here):

  • Researchers found 87% of young men were having sex with their girlfriends or prostitutes; 10% were having sex with other males
  • There are 10,000 to 20,000 women and children in prostitution in Phnom Penh, a city of 1 million. Massage parlors and karaoke bars are frequently fronts for prostitution rings.
  • 35% of prostitutes in Cambodia are under the age of 18.
  • Many young prostituted boys live on the streets and at night wait for the male buyers who will pay $2 to $5 for sex.
  • Children as young as four have been sold into the sex industry in Cambodia.
  • Minors, some as young as seven, constitute more than 25% of the prostitutes in Cambodia’s sex industry,
  • The local industry for sexually exploited children is exploding for two reasons: Many Khmer — and other Asian men — believe sex with a virgin will renew their vigor and youth, and the fear of contracting HIV is fuelling a demand for younger and younger virgins.
  • A study of more than 6,000 prostituted girls found that one-third of prostitutes in Phnom Penh and Battanbang were between the age of 12 and 17.
  • 40-50% the prostitutes in Cambodian are HIV positive.
  • 60% of the young prostitutes interviewed in Cambodia were infected with everything from sores and warts to gonorrhea.


Angkor Wat Photos

Bayon, originally uploaded by coming2cambodia.

Photos of the trip are up (click on the photo above). Stories to come. Please enjoy!

Tangled Web: Photo Wednesday

Power lines, originally uploaded by coming2cambodia.

Sorry, as I am traveling, this is getting posted a bit late. It was taken in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Spring 2007.

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