travel things

First Week Ramblings

 

Alright, I think I’ve gone long enough without sitting down for a proper, straight from the hip, spewing thoughts from my brain update. I was (and am) hoping to do lots of these, just to keep you updated on the daily occurrences. It’s good to use posts like these as a mini travel dairy, because I will include a lot more random little things than I would put in more thought-out post. Who knows what I will say! Haha. Alright, here we go…

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Before I begin: I have to say this, because it is bothering me. My room smells like something, and I can’t figure out exactly what it is or where it’s coming from. I think it’s orange cleaner, but I don’t know why it smells so strongly.

#1 – Room service is awesome. I don’t think, out of all my hotel stays for various things over the course of my life, I have ever used it. It’s always too expensive. Here, the room service is the same price as all the other food in the restaurant – win!! Of course a service charge is included, but the starting price is reasonable, and I’m using per diem here, so I have enjoyed room service the past two nights.

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#2 – I thought I would be sitting out by the pool every night, or down by the patio, writing my blog and enjoying the lights and people nearby. I haven’t done that at all yet! I have been much too tired at night to leave my room. Today was the first day I have been entirely on my own (introversion time for the win!!!), but it’s too cozy in my room, and room service was too tempting for me to leave. Maybe I’ll sit by the pool at night in my other hotels, but I haven’t done it yet.

#3 – Basil is in a lot of dishes here. I love the way they use it. It’s one of my favorite flavors, but at home I only ever eat it with tomatoes and mozzerella. Ya know? It livens up practically any dish though.

#4 – Not sure if you have looked yet, but the Cambodian language, Khmer, is real crazy. It is based on sanskrit, and is entirely illegible to the western eye. Even the numbers do not use alpha numeric characters. It’s pretty cool though; it looks ancient.

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#5 – This may be the worst-off country I’ve ever been to. I don’t know.. that’s hard to quantify. The Dominican Republic was not doing so well. Some major problems here that stand out to me compared to other developing countries (in Latin America) are:

  • Electrical wires EVERYWHERE. Clumps of them throughout the city. Not safe. Then they fall, and form a jungle of snaking wires that you should most definitely avoid.
  • Trash is everywhere. I’ve been to developing countries in Latin America, so I’ve seen my fair share of trash on the streets. Here it seems excessive.
  • One symbol of a developing country in my mind is the number of construction projects currently underway or since forgotten about. When I was prepping my garden at our rental house, and by garden I mean area where I dumped a bunch of wildflower seeds and hoped for the best, I found all kinds of crap in the soil – pieces of siding, chunks of brick, garbage, bolts, etc. I had nothing to complain of. The sidewalks and empty lots here have PILES of crap like that sitting around. No good.

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#6 –  Tuk Tuks are fun!!! I actually read somewhere before coming here that you should avoid tuk tuks because they aren’t safe (someone could reach out and steal your bag while you are riding). I don’t know what those people would suggest you do to get around instead of taking a tuk tuk! I definitely do not want to hitch a ride on the back of a motorcycle, which is an alternative, but taxis do not seem common, and are likely very expensive. A one-way tuk tuk ride pretty much anywhere you want to go in the city is $5. And you get to ride around in the back like a princess!! I love it.

#7 – I’ve never actually stated what I’m doing here! Haha. Whoops. I am doing research for my master’s thesis (which is in Agricultural & Applied Economics). I’m surveying 400 rice farmers in four different provinces to assess their adoption of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) technologies. IPM is a technique of minimal use of pesticides, and other biological practices to control pests. It is much better for the environment and people’s health, as there is reduced exposure to harmful chemical pesticides. I will be looking at the question of WHO adopts these technologies to determine for the future of this project how to best get the word out and encourage farmers to use IPM, as well as study economic effects by examining whether or not farmers who use IPM are poorer or not as poor (we would ideally like to help the poorest of the poor). I will also be looking at gender impacts, to see if women with more decision-making power in their household have an effect on the use of IPM.

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#8 – I am planning to write more on this later, but short hair is AWESOME. I mean, I still prefer the look of at least medium-length hair on women, but I finally “get it.” I can take a shower in the morning!!! And then just leave my hair! And it doesn’t look like an episode of Wild and Crazy Kids! I take way more showers now, because my hair takes about a tenth as long to dry. XD

#9 – I have found heaven on earth, and it is the Thai body massage. It is massage, yoga, and chiropractic care all in one. Umm, three of my favorite things already, thank you very much. Every moment of the sixty minute massage I am thinking, “Yes. This is amazing. Oh, right there. Perfect. Ahhhh.” Definitely worth the $15 including a hefty tip. In my next life, I shall get one every day. If you need me, I’ll be across the street having my back pressed into my organs, my shoulders unknotted, and my thighs pressed on by a stranger’s feet.

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#10 – A huge blessing has been my team here. Last week, my professor and another (retired) professor (from a different university) who are involved in the project were here to (“help” – they did all the work) set up the logistics for the surveying this summer. Several different groups are all involved in the project (which is larger than just what I am doing for my thesis – other entities will write reports from the data I collect this summer, and later they will continue working to spread IPM, and then take another survey in a few years), including two groups that we met with last week. The main one is CEDAC, which you don’t need to know what it is, other than the fact that they are providing my team.

Makarady is the most knowledgable, is furthest up on their chain of command, but is also the busiest. He is very helpful but can’t be around all the time. Piseth is his apprentice, basically. He will be overseeing everything that Makarady can’t be around for. Alpy is the supervisor and also an enumerator. Lastly, I have four enumerators, which are people who will actually conduct the survey with farmers. (I can’t do it because I don’t speak Khmer. And there’s 400 to do in 5 weeks soooo.) The great news is that all of these people speak at least some English!! Actually it pretty much goes in order of who I just listed, ha. There is one enumerator whose English is great, which is a bonus.

The thing that I am so thankful for is that these people are all young (around my age), fun and funny, and speak at least some English. I went into this pretty much thinking I would only (barely) be able to speak to the translator/supervisor person. I had no idea that my team would be so many fun people that I can actually interact with! There are even two women enumerators!!!! This is a miracle. If I need any women stuff, they can help me (find a bathroom, for example), and they have higher standards and obviously can relate better to me as a woman. Praise God for this!

Ten is enough for now. I could go on, but we’ll save that for a later date.

Later days!

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