Archive for December, 2009

From Siem Reap to Battambong

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Today we visited the PEPY ride school and I learned a lot about the practical elements of development work versus the theory and the challenges in striking a balance between the two. We took a dusty truckride to Battambong to meet with the main PEPY group today and then we went on a 20 km ride around Battambong.

We loaded up onto the Bamboo Train which are essentially two axles with a platform on top and an engine which powers the “vehicle” down unused train tracks. As the sun set, we rode back to Battambong and enjoyed a hearty dinner.

110 km tomorrow!

Siem Reap and Ankor Wat

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Highlight of my day, learning how to count to 10 from a group of grade 4 students at Ankor Wat. Today we went to Angkor Wat, better known as the temples where Tomb Raider was filmed. We also had a group of 30 grade 4 students with us which made it about a billion times more fun. They have a natural curiosity and happiness about them that was contagious. We spent part of the afternoon playing games with them outside one of the temples and then when it was time to part ways at Ta Promh (sp?) I was sad to see them go. Off to Battambong tomorrow! My updates will be short, sporadic and limited in detail, but there will be pictures, video and music when I’m back.

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Michelle suggested that if I had time, I would probably like the Science Museum in Singapore. I felt conflicted, because I really wanted to go, but I would be cutting it really close in getting to the airport in time for my flight.

The nerd in me won out.

The Singapore Science Museum is pretty fantastic. It has all the fun stuff that I remember growing up with in the Ontario Science Center, like a Tesla coil and models explaining ocean currents, but the highlight for me was the Body Worlds exhibit that is on until March 2010.

The human body.
A marvel of contradictions.
Simple yet complex,
vulnerable yet resilient.
The limit of our experience
yet the starting point of boundless potential.

The exhibit was amazing, starting with embryos at one week of development all the way through the gestation period. It was haunting and thought-provoking exhibit. What particularly kept my attention was that every single speciman is a real human body (not to mention the horse and giraffe that has also been “plastinated”)

I wanted to see more of the Science Center, especially snow city, which seemed to be a giant enclosed space with a snowmaker, but I was already late in getting to the airport. The standard “be there two hours before your flight takes off” that has been drilled into me from North American travel doesn’t seem to apply here though. So far from my two intra-Asia flights, I’m pretty sure I could’ve arrived a half hour before my flight took off and still have made it on time.

Maybe I’ll get to test that theory in Phnom Penh in a couple of weeks.

Singapore!

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

The last 24 hours have been a total whirlwind of activity. After a 4 hour layover in the Hong Kong International Airport, I went on to Singapore. I scheduled the stopover in Singapore enroute to Cambodia to visit a friend I met while traveling in Eastern Europe earlier this year. Michelle took me all over Singapore City which included Orchard Street, the Esplanade, Merlion Park (yes, a combination of a lion and mermaid) and my personal favourite, Little India.

For lunch, Michelle ordered us the signature Singaporean dish, chicken and rice, which is absolutely delicious. Though my time in Singapore is brief, it has been great fun. The metro has provided an endless source of comedy. The metro system uses wireless RFID cards which let people in through the gates – I figured Michelle was swiping for us both, so I just hopped in after her before the gates closed. When I realized this wasn’t the case and was trying to figure out how to get back out, that proved to be a bit difficult. On the metro on the way back after an exhausting day exploring the city, I fell asleep while hanging onto the overhead strap and snapped awake just as I was losing my grip, much to the amusement of people around me.

I will be braving the bus and metro system myself tomorrow as I navigate my way to the airport. I take some comfort in that most people know English here and as a backup, my Cantonese is decent enough to get around.  There are many pictures which have yet to be uploaded, but I’ll likely not find the bandwidth for the high resolution pictures until I get back home.

Live from the Hong Kong International Airport – Starbucks

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Despite Starbucks being an international brand, short, tall, and venti didn’t seem to make the leap. On the board, the Chinese characters for small, medium and large are used.

Waiting…

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Packing light

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Two red panniers and a helmet. (The other pannier is checked luggage) Probably the lightest I’ve ever packed for a trip, but when you have to cycle with all your stuff, it’s a lot easier to cut out the extras.

Toronto to Hong Kong

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

I’m now in the Hong Kong International Airport, tapping away on my Blackberry – connected via the wifi. I opted to bring the Blackberry instead of my laptop, or even the netbook because I have to cycle with everything that I bring and I needed to keep things light. I feel a bit disoriented, still adjusting to losing a day in transit. The plane ride was filled with dozing and watching movies on the back of the seat – I managed to take in 500 Days of Summer, Julie and Julia, The Time Traveler’s Wife and Transformers 2. I had to watch Transformers in fast forward though, because it simply wasn’t making any sense after the first half hour.

I am waiting for my flight to Singapore where I will be meeting up with a friend before continuing on to Siem Reap, Cambodia. There’s lots more I’d like to write, but it will have to wait till I get to a real keyboard.