Monday, September 2, 2013

Jul 21, 2013 Down by the Bay out in Baku!

Today's email might be a little short due to some computer problems, however we should have pictures! Don't feel offended if pictures don't actually work. Today our email place is full to capacity and all 16 computers are using the same wireless connection, which doesn't actually work very well. It is election season! Wow, election season in America is nothing compared to this.

 I saw 7 parades yesterday, including two for rival parties that managed to kind of combine (I assume it was an accident) and ride down the street waving flags and screaming with their face paint and party flags and such. They were all pretty normal, flags, matching t-shirts the big truck in the front blasting propaganda and telling everyone it's their duty to vote except one. This was one of only two I saw yesterday that were for the opposition party.  They were not all on motorcycles or in cars, rather, they were in columns like something out of a military movie. The lead car would shout something and all of the several hundred people would yell in unison "Never!" or something of the sort. All of this wasn't super weird, other than how well organized it was all the way until I had almost passed it all and I saw that the last car had a very large picture of the current leader, Hun Sain, that was being burned. That was a little chilling. Fun stuff, elections.

We have a coconut tree in our back yard. I don't know if y'all know this, but unlike depictions in movies, paintings and popular culture, coconuts do not grow on palm trees nicely carved into little brown wooden spheres like you buy at the store. Before you peel a coconut it is about 3 times bigger and usually green. It takes 10 minutes of hacking at it with a cleaver to get it to the point that we recognize as a coconut. Really good though. Coconuts here have more milk than the ones we buy in the states and it's more refreshing and less sweet. I'm actually not a huge fan of it but I can eat coconut meat all day. Delicious.

Ever since I got here to Ta Khmau I've been sick. First it was cold like symptoms but it turned eventually stomach problems and then managed to get back to cold stuff again. One funny thing the Khmer people believe is that hot water is healthy for you (I've been told it's a Chinese thing so it's probably pretty common throughout Asia). Every time someone sees me sneeze or cough they tell me that I need to toss out the cold water in my water bottle and drink hot water.

We're not talking lukewarm or 100 degree water, we're talking sear your tongue hot chocolate water. They're crazy! And every time I tell them I don't think I'm going to do that they almost take it personally! It's pretty funny. My companion explained to a few people that drinking hot water for good health isn't part of my culture but later in private he told me, "really, they're right. You should be drinking hot water." What a funny thing. Speaking of water, our sink is broken. That's not a super huge problem but it does mean that we are using a large, cement pot filled with rainwater from our roof for our water in the kitchen. Makes me feel more authentic. This is how all the Khmers do it. 
The rice fields of Baku

Elder Sin, my companion

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