Today was another pretty lazy day. A visit to the Russian Market for some tat and spent the rest of the morning by the pool until it was time to go and get Thida for the party. And what a vision awaited us! Crimped, made-up and a sea of pink froth, she looked well…………..pretty grown up. The first thing we discovered was that the new bike already had a puncture which is not a huge surprise given the state of the roads on the outskirts of PP – I think they are laid with a mixture of sand, bitumen and glass shards. A quick trip to the garage fixed that and we were ready to go to PSE for the party. Said party turned out to be a huge fundraiser. It’s Khmer new year at the end of the week so it was a good excuse for a very large party to raise much-needed funds. We arrived about 5.30pm and it hadn’t really got going. After an hour or so things hotted up and we went round the various stalls (dart-throwing, hoopla etc…………you get the picture). Then we watched what can only be described as Cambodia’s Got Talent. Several groups of testosterone-fuelled Cambodian boys, complete with quiffs, hairgel, tight shirts and jeans and groovy sunglasses had a ”streetdance-off” presumably for a prize but we never actually got to find out who won. How to describe a large-scale Cambodian party – ummm…………lots and lots of noise. Huge speakers throwing out screeching voices and either Khmer pop (aaaaaaaagh) or the worst of western pop. Unidentifiable pieces of meat on skewers where up for grabs but we passed on that. Then it was time to watch two Cambodian comedians do a double-act that resembled the Chuckle Brothers on speed. Lastly, an apparently very famous Cambodian Beyonce-lookalike who sang more Khmer pop which sounded, although beautifully sung, like cats fighting. Bob and I were on the point of holding our lighters up and swaying. Anyway, I spent the evening stalking Thida and her friend as they seemed to attract the attention of a few of the previously-mentioned quiffed lotharios. Flora thought me a proper spoil-sport! Mercifully, our taxi-driver (Spanky – I kid you not although I doubt very much if I have the spelling correct) soon came to rescue us. Anyway, last day tomorrow and the last chance to see Thida on the way to the airport. As I said previously, I wasn’t intending to publicize our private business and would hate to be seen as a loudhailing do-gooder but the fact is this. Three days before coming out here, I had dinner with a couple of friends. I told them what we were coming for and they insisted that it was a virtual duty to use this blog to spread the word. Social sculpture apparently! I remained unconvinced but when my paintings didn’t work out, it seemed like a sign!! So here’s the link again (I hope) and if one person opens it and sends some money to this worthy cause then, as the saying goes, my work here is done:) – I promise I’ll shut up now.
A bit of a nothing day. Bob took Flora to the Tuol Sleng prison today where the Khmer Rouge did their ghastly deeds and lots of people died from torture. A grim in-your-face history lesson for a fiften-year-old but it made her think and made for much discussion over dinner on the pros and cons of various political ideologies. Mother, who’d been a few years ago, didn’t feel the need to repeat the experience and instead, went for a wander and an iced coffee and returned to the hotel with some frangipani (my all time favourite flower) to paint. A disaster yet again. I’m getting very frustrated as there is so much wonderful subject matter but it doesn’t seem to be working out with regards to the paints. Hopefully, I can make some paintings when I get home from the sketches I’ve made. We went to the Elephant Bar at Le Royale Hotel for happy hour drinks. It’s like something out of the Raj complete with tinkling piano (which actually drove us out!) and Gin Slings. Home in a tuk tuk which, in Cambodia, is a near-death experience even by Bangkok tuk tuk standards. We haven’t seen Thida today as we thought we should let her get to school. I’m pretty sure that my French on yesterday’s blog was incorrect, it not being my strong point. PSE actually stands for Pour un sourire d’enfant (For a child’s smile) whereaas last night, in my Franglais fashion I may have said ”for a child’s mouse” but there you go – that’s why I failed my French o’level! I was alerted by email today that I have new subscribers. In case you’re thinking you’ve hit the wrong site, no, this is a daily painting website – I’m just on a bit of a break this week…………..paintings to follow. Have no photo worth putting on but will tomorrow.
We waited for a couple of hours at the orphanage yesterday evening for Thida to come home from school. It’s really frustrating as nobody there speaks English and I don’t know any Khmer. One of the carers got on his motorbike to go and look for her walking home but couldn’t find her. Eventually we gave up and decided to come back this morning. Eureka! We found her. She’d been given the day off school to see us so it was lovely to find her……………big hugs all round. She looks great, all grown up yet still tiny. The first thing we did was go to a bicycle shop and find her a bike to make her journey home from school faster! She chose the brightest, pinkest one in the shop. Our taxi driver did a sterling job on the bartering front. Then we went back to NBIC to see the director, whilst Thida gave “backsteps” to her friends around the orphanage grounds. We found someone who spoke both Khmer and English (a visitor who we hijacked) to interpret for us. We got lots of info we had been desperate for e.g. that she is well and that her HIV medicine will be available to her for the rest of her life and that she is secure in her hairdressing and beauty course. We brought her out some hairdressing stuff from UK such as scissors, brushes etc. There was much hilarity amongst the girls over this! Next we took her and her friend Sreyka to a shop to buy party dresses for the school party on Friday. More pinkness, many frills plus some rather pungent cheap perfume which seemed to be a hit and a pair of hair crimpers – can’t wait to see the finished product!
Flora’s art teacher had kindly donated some boxes of watercolours and we gave them to the volunteers who are working with the disabled children at NBIC. They are occupational therapists and they said they would be really useful. We got them out immediately and they seemed a big hit. We had intended doing some art with the children but the physically able ones are at school all day so we left them with the OT specialists after trying to help out in the most inept manner. This little girl was beaming when she was painting and the boy at the back is really talented even though they are both seriously handicapped by cerebal paulsy. There are some seriously disabled children at the orphanage and its a sad sight but we watched them splashing in a large paddling pool which seems to be their favourite activity. Mrs.P, the director, gets some money from the government but it’s never enough and she relies on donations. She is busy trying to set up a bank account for donations as she realises that people can be reluctant to hand over cash. A fellow blogger tells me that my link yesterday didnt work which is hardly surprising as I am a self-confessed techno-neanderthal. Worth googling. Pour une sourir d’enfant (PSE) and National Borey of Infants and Children, Cambodia (dreadful website – any talented webdesigners in search of a challenge??).
Finally I’ve got to blog. However, not much happening on the painting front. I did buy some mangosteens yesterday and settled down only to find that my paints did not like the atmosphere at all. I have been trying to track down some linseed oil in Phnom Penh but since nobody seems to paint here – it’s a tricky one. I’m going to try and improve it tomorrow but don’t hold out much hope.
So this is going to be a travelblog until I get back on 15th April. Here’s the lowdown. We poured off the plane last Tuesday and straight onto our favourite island for some downtime. It’s changed a lot! The tacky bits are tackier and the more upmarket bits are more upmarket. Lovely to chill out though and swim in a sea that is warm and eat somtam (papaya salad) and BBQ chicken on the beach followed by a massage. Moved on to Phnom Penh on Sunday and checked into a lovely hotel which is a small colonial house in a lush tropical garden – heaven! We went straight to PSE to find Thida who is the reason we have come here. Long story short, we have been helping to support her for the past five years or so – she is a 17-year-old orphan and is HIVpos. Bob met her by chance when he was delivering a present to another child at the orphanage from a friend in Bangkok. Since coming back to the UK we have kept in touch but it’s difficult from so far away. We knew that she had moved on from school and is studying hair and beauty at PSE (a wonderful organisation which educates children living in poverty) so thought we would find her there – wrong! However, we did have a guided tour of the place and got ourselves coiffed and our toes painted a rather garish sparkly gold!! We’re on the trail of Thida and off to National Borey (the orphanage where she lives) to track her down now. I will let you know what happens tomorrow. The reason I’m telling you all this is to ask you to look at the PSE website and I’d like to tell you a bit more about NBIC (National Borey for Infants and Children) which I will tomorrow – two fantastic places that help kids who have absolutely nothing More tomorrow. Please don’t unsubscribe, if the travelog doesn’t interest you, paintings will be back on April 15th (unless I find some linseed oil tomorrow!).
Just to prove that spring is round the corner. Mind you, I did get them in the supermarket so they were probably imported.
These have been in my fruit bowl for a while now and frankly, other than sprinkling them on salads, I have no idea what to do with them. Any ideas?
I tried something different – painting on a prepared dark background. It has a different effect and I will try it a few more times to see how it goes.
I’m a bit tired today having stayed up far too late watching a recording of The Killing – series 2 – brilliant stuff and what a jumper! My Danish is coming on a treat.
These were picked in order to make some sloe gin to make ”slogasms” (sloe gin and fizz) but so far, they have still to make it into the gin bottle. Will there be any left to put them in?
These are gracing the shop shelves at the moment and remind me of Christmas………….no idea why really, I’ve never eaten one at Christmas.
Please bear with me and untidy website. It’s in the midst of a rejig but my trusty IT guru is away for a few days. All back to normal soon.
A technical glitch meant that those of you who have subscribed, unfortunately did not receive the picture of the roses that accompanied today’s post. I am a technical Neanderthal and am working hard to join the 21st century – you’ll have to bear with me though……….Rome wasn’t built in a day.
In the meantime, the pics can be seen by going to website www.pennygerman.com and clicking on Daily Blog. Sorry – must try harder!