Monday Jan. 28th 2008

Day 3: Our First Build Day

Everyone was excited to get going this morning. We all headed up to the restaurant for breakfast, where we found a group of about 12 Koreans who were doing something volunteer oriented as well, but time constraints and language barriers prevented us finding out what they were doing. Breakfast; fresh fruit, the ubiquitous Cambodian baguette (a remnant of the French Colonial past), coffee that wasn’t too bad, and an egg-something or other (cold).

After a quick picture in front of the vans, we all piled in and headed off to our village-Kom Thmey. It is only about forty km away. The majority of the trip was on paved ‘highway’-bonus. But as we turned off the highway to the village ‘the other shoe dropped’. Only ten or twelve km, however, the road was…rustic. So speed down to an easy jog for what seemed to be very long periods. Reality – thirty minutes.

Old and new side by side...

We split into 3 groups and started working. This year our external walls were corrugated tin. Even the third grade wood, which we had for walls last year, is now very hard to acquire in Cambodia. Plus side on corrugated tin-goes up fast, downside-NOISY, (next year I am adding ear-plugs to my must bring list).

Everyone worked hard and by our lunch break we had three houses finished. We got into a good rhythm and were finished our sixth house by 3:30. Building is a real whirlwind. In, slam, hand-over ceremony, everybody in the van….

There is interaction with the fams, but we are there to work. There is a tendency for builders to want to ‘hang out’ at the village after the build, but, as Janne has noted. They won’t say anything, but the families are just champing at the bit to get into their new house. The kids get to pick out a corner all of their own, and everyone in the family has a safe, dry place to sleep, so after we present the families their new homes and a new Tabitha quilt, we all say Sak Sabay, smile, wave, wipe away the odd tear, and get out of Dodge.

File Under The Strange But True Section

Save the Dugong sign...

On our drive back to Kep, we saw a couple of signs by the road of Manatees. Yeah, they call them Dugong, but they are indeed one and the same. I thought they were only found in Florida….Anywho, our reaction; ‘Cool, maybe there is an aquarium or boat trips to see them in their natural habitat….nope. We had an interesting ‘sauce’ on some of our meals that we couldn’t quite put our finger on… guessed it-DUGONG SAUCE!-we immediately started an impromptu ‘save the dugong’ campaign, which consisted of ‘save the Dugong graffiti’ appearing in several different locales.

Had a team dinner at a sea-side restaurant. Not quite ‘there’ yet. Food was ok. Getting the food in a somewhat timely manner more difficult. Complicating factor. We ordered local blue crab, which only reinforced my previous opinion that crab is generally way to much work for too little gastronomic pay-off. Bright side shrimp, fish, and rice all good, and the beer was cheap.

Hitting the pit early to prep for day two of the build.

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