Its Ellie here,
Today we got up and piled on the bus and went to Tabitha. Tabitha is an organization that builds houses in slums and supports women that are HIV positive. Nary gave us an orientation speech and told us her own experience of the Khmer Rouge. I think we were all shocked to hear her story and how she was the only one her survived the Khmer Rouge period in her family. Her story made us realise just how real the whole regime was and how recently it occurred. As we listened to her talk, women sat in the background hand crafting silken goods to sell. After we finished listening to Nary’s speech we got to look around the various levels filled with beautiful handmade silk items. It was amazing to see how detailed all the items were, and to see the women work so hard to produce them. Even though you could see how much hard work had gone into these items, they were still relatively cheap. Most of us bought an item whether it was a scarf, a handbag, a quilt or even a Christmas decoration. And in some cases, all of this, as Tori found it difficult to resist buying everything in the store!
After finishing our shopping at Tabitha we all piled back onto the air conditioned bus again, ready for another round of shopping, this time heading for central market. Central market was a lot different to shopping at Tabitha as we had to be a little bit more careful of our surroundings, and attempt to use our bargaining skills! I think most of us are getting quite good at bargaining; walking out of the market with some ridiculously cheap items! Adrian is still our bargaining king; purchasing an authentic chinese silk gown for $12 US, down from $45!
We had to leave the busy, colourful and rather smelly market for a nice relaxing lunch where we all got to sit around the table and pass around the laptop reading all the comments that you guys have posted up! Keep your comments coming because we all love hearing from you.
After lunch we went to the Royal Palace; a rather more peaceful and tranquil environment compared to the market. We were all rather shocked at the size and wealth of all the buildings. There were huge golden temples filled with artifacts dating back for centuries. It was surprising that these buildings were celebrating both Buddhist and Hindu religions. The royal family also lives in the palace complex and for a lot of us it was hard to get our heads around the idea that a family could live in such royalty when most of the people in the surrounding area all have very little. We were surprised to hear how the community are very loyal and supportive of their King, despite knowing he lives in such wealth.
At dinner tonight we met friends of Marks who are raising their young family in the slum areas of Cambodia. They work for an organization that provides advocacy for the people in this area, as the government proposes to move them to areas outside Phnom Penh.
House building tomorrow! Thanks to everyone who has left messages for us.