I said that I was going to post my travel log here soon. I'm sorry it's not soon enough as I was having trouble with the formatting of the post (I finally figured out that I cannot change the format of my post if I edit it using Google Chrome. I used to use Internet Explorer).
I went to Cambodia for 5 days under a program called Baktisiswa Masyarakat Islam Kemboja. I'm a member of PEERs (Peer Counselor Group) and I Immediately jumped on the opportunity when they announced that they were going to hold this program. I was part of the Biro Program in the program (if that makes sense) and I was the unofficial photographer as well. The program's purpose is to meluaskan pemandangan, and more importantly, to see for ourselves the poor condition of our Muslim brothers who are a minority in their country. We stayed together with our keluarga angkat and experienced their lifestyle for 3 days, and stayed in Phnom Penh for the first and last day.
Our banner. [picture by Fathi]
Some of the donations for the people there. [picture by Aimi]
This is the beginning of my travel log. I have been keeping a journal since PLKN, and I thought I'd just write interesting bits of the trip for memories sake. Turned out everything was interesting, and I wrote much more than I had planned. I put them up here so that I can share the wonderful experience. But I have to warn you, I wrote about what happened around me, so it might seem... I don't know, narrow maybe? And a bit narcissistic. And my views do not reflect other participants' views.
The writings in this font and this colour are 95% unedited original writings that I wrote while I was there (5% edited for clarity). The rest are what I wrote in retrospect when I was already back in Malaysia.
And now, the first day.
3:04 AM (Malaysia time)
It's officially our first day of the trip. I can't believe it's 3 AM. I mean, normally I...what am I saying. I'm going to Kemboja kot! Of course I can't sleep! And of course, the 4 pieces of sardine rolls and the long walk around the airport doesn't help.
This is my first time sleeping in an airport. I'm not sure why the thought of sleeping in a public place in full view of passers-by (well, the 'trolley wall' that we built kinda helps) on the cold, hard, tiled floor got me excited. My friend Asmah, who was busy gawking at chocolates a few minutes ago (an act which I am guilty for as well) is now fast asleep beside me.
Argh, my vision is getting blurry. And my handwriting is getting worse (it's not good in normal circumstances anyway), so I think I really should sleep.
Asmah and the sardine rolls (yum!)
Food is a very good medium for ice-breaking. In the flight, I was seated next to Kak Pah and Azwan, both of whom I just met. Our conversations were casual enough, with no awkward weather talk. But the ice really melted when the food came. We saw the air steward offering a choice of lunch to the passengers in the front rows, and we tried really hard to catch what he was saying as he was talking really fast. We heard nasi lemak and the rest was a blur. It was hilarious when we tried to guess what he said. He sounded like "nasilemaksambaludang telursheshikadanubikentang" no matter how many times we listened to it. No kidding. And we guessed that other passengers didn't get it too, and they chose nasi lemak because those were the only words they caught. When he came to our row, we thought we would finally know what he was saying, but the exchange went like this:
Steward: Selamattengahhari. Kamiada nasilemaksambaludang telursheshikadanubikentang.
Me: [looks at Kak Pah and Azwan]
Kak Pah: Nasi lemak.
Azwan: Nasi lemak.
Me: Erm, yang lagi satu tu apa?
Me: Yeah. That one.
So we called it telur sheshika, and we never did find out what its actual name is. It was really funny, though it might not seem so to you. And laughter is amazing in creating bonds.
Telur Sheshika (?)
Nasi lemak sambal udang (featuring Azwan).
11:30 AM (Kemboja time)
Yay we're in Cambodia~ We're in the bus, heading to the hotel (New York Hotel).
New York Hotel. Apparently this is one of the very few hotels where there are Halal restaurants. [picture by Fathi]
En. Rozali in the bus.
The town is quite busy. Kinda like Chinatown meets pasar malam. The buildings (all at least 3 storeys high) are mostly old shophouses, with a few modern shopping complexes or hotels sprinkled here and there.
View of the street from the hotel.
Another view of the street. [picture by Qila]
At first glance, I found that the Cambodians road-users really don't have road manners. There are many types of vehicles on the road, from the single-seated, man-powered cyclo to the modern bus, and they all seemingly drive without looking left and right (sometimes I think they don't even look at the front). Aimi said she saw a car dengan selambanya enters the opposite lane in a busy traffic. Scary.. I imagined it would be so nerve-wrecking to ride on the cyclo with cars and tuk-tuks and trucks swerving in front of you O_O
A common scene in the streets of Phnom Penh. [picture by Azwan]
The tuk-tuk (featuring En. Din and the gang).
The cyclo (featuring Hurun Akita). [picture by Aswad]
At the time of arrival, school children were going back from or heading to school. It's quite unsettling to watch little kids cycling by the roadside (and sometimes in the middle of the road) or walking in clusters and crossing the road indifferently. But ustaz Azhar, one of our chaperones, said that we could cross the road with our eyes close and won't get hit. There may be a ring of truth in it because not one of the road users (little kids included) has a look of distress on his face. Not even when our bus nearly brush their precious backsides. And we never saw any accidents, minor or otherwise, even after the many, many close encounters.
We're on a boat, cruising on the Tonle Sap (Sap River). Me being my clueless self (or, as my friends Zahir and Syara would say, Miss Blur), I thought we were heading to the Killing Fields, but no. We're just chillin' on the boat, listening to Mr. Rozali's history and geography lessons while the boat takes us along the river and back.
Our cruiser. Dua tingkat tu..
The other cruisers.
Hey that's me in the picture! Yay! [picture by Azwan]
I got distracted listening to Mr. Rozali spewing facts (not literally, mind you) about the Mekong River. Hamizan caught me writing and that was when Din called my writings a travel log. I think it's cute. I mean the name. Not Din.
This reminds me of Doraemon, where they like to hang out by the river bank like this. Well, almost like this.
A cruiser (an actual one) that parked by the river bank. I thought it would be kind of awkward to be dining in the restaurant or just relaxing in your bedroom while a bunch of curious Malaysian students snapping your photos and waving at you. But those mat salleh were friendly, all smiley and waving back and everything. [picture by Megat]
Anyhow, we just got back from the market (Pasar Thmey, according to Azwan's blog). I only converted RM100 into USD, and apparently 31 USDs can't go very far. I guess I have to convert some more ringgit. And I didn't take that many pictures too. Not good ones anyway.
We had lunch and dinner at Koh Pich restaurant at Diamond Island, an island with conference centres, restaurants and entertainment areas (the island holds a grim history where a water festival turned into a tragedy where around 300 people are crushed to death in a massive stampede). We had our meals there quite often, as there are not many Halal restaurants in the area. The food is always good and the view quite pretty, especially at night.
The restaurant, Koh Pich. [picture by Faliq]
My hungry friends. There was this one time when Asmah and Din and I were the last people to take the food, and there was almost nothing left. I was so looking forward to having the sweet and sour fish! I insisted on waiting for the next batch of fish, and I had to wait for such a long time and the fish came when other people had already finished their meals and were taking pictures outside. *sigh* Why was I often late?
Diamond Island is really really popular at night, especially with the youths (although you can't see it here because most of the people in this picture are my friends).
The bridge in the picture is the one where the tragedy happened. Currently there are two bridges available, and our bus driver always took the other bridge. [picture by Fathi]