Author: jeremiahazurin

Jeremy is an exchange student in South Korea by way of Washington, DC interested in design, technology, and cultural dialogue.

Day 21-22: Xích lô (Cyclo) tour around Phnom Penh + Stroll around Korea street

Have you ever heard of a cyclo (Xích lô)? CKS sponsored a tour around Phnom Penh for us in what seems to be a tricycle. Like tuk-tuks, they are inverted and open-aired so the driver pushes you to go around from behind. It has a roof to shield you from the sun when the heat gets a little overwhelming (unfortunately not the driver, only the passenger) while the wind flows inward. On our tour, we started in the post office and onwards to different landmarks around the city with our group.

Maly (Cambodia) and I inside a tuk-tuk

Maly (Cambodia) and I inside a tuk-tuk

Cyclo (Xích lô) Tour around the history of Phnom Penh

Cyclo (Xích lô) Tour around the history of Phnom Penh

Chinese Temple

Chinese Temple

The other fellows looking at something

The other fellows looking at something

Xích lô (Cyclo) Tour!

Xích lô (Cyclo) Tour!

"Dokdo is ours"

“Dokdo is ours”

The photo above is from the Cambodia-Korea cultural center located down the street from the palace. Unfortunately it was empty except for two staff members who knew nothing about the center, let alone the Korean community in Phnom Penh. The Center apparently receives 100-150 visitors of Cambodian, Korean, and other foreigners, yet the staff could speak neither English nor Korean. She was extremely unhelpful in helping us learn about the Cambodian-Korean relationship, and I chose this tiny strip of Korean businesses because one, I missed hearing Korean and eating Korean food, and two, I didn’t want to do China town.

The photo above was probably the most interesting part of the tour for me. I’m not sure but I think it translates to “Dokdo is ours”, which is referring to the islands in between Japan and Korea.

Linda (Cambodian-Chinese-American) and I in front of Trench, a nearby cultural heritage shop

Linda (Cambodian-Chinese-American) and I in front of Trench, a nearby cultural heritage shop

 

Patrick (USA) and Linda perusing

Patrick (USA) and Linda perusing. Notice how empty the place is

Korea's side had lots of products

Korea’s side had lots of products. Notice how empty the Center is

Started in 2006, the Center served to highlight the relations between both countries

Started in 2006, the Center served to highlight the relations between both countries

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비빔밥 ㅎㅎㅎㅎㅎ

비빔밥 ㅎㅎㅎㅎㅎ

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“In dedication to close friendship and solidarity between the peoples of Republic of Korea and Cambodia”

Day 14-15: Bye-bye Siem Reap and Hello Phnom Penh!

 

After our research course ended, we went to have Khmer class at a restaurant so our teacher could teach us how to order in Khmer. This was probably the most filling meal I’ve ever had so far but I’m glad I now have a new go-to place in Siem Reap!

Lunch with our Khmer teacher

Lunch with our Khmer teacher

And now I’m blogging seven hours away from Siem Reap in the capitol of Phnom Penh! Although we’re still under the care of the Center for Khmer Studies, we’re now taking classes in its PP location. Other than the staff, the difference is our hotel’s location, a good fifteen-minute tuk-tuk ride away from CKS, unlike the thirty-second walk from our Siem Reap hotel to Wat Damnak. We’re near the Royal Palace (pictured below) so I got to take a few shots on my first day. We literally arrived one day after the king’s ashes were brought so unfortunately we missed the event but you could still see some of the decor around his stupa. Additionally, we also have a jacuzzi which I’ve only used once since the water wasn’t hot, not to mention dirty. Underneath the pool is a lounge, bar, and I think a screen where some folks watched the World Cup on this morning.

At the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh! Royal Palace에 있어요!

At the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh! Royal Palace에 있어요!

As far as my research is going, my goal is to interview a few folks at two nearby businesses that work with Cambodian art. I’ve sent e-mails around but haven’t received any responses yet but I think that’s due to the recent holiday for the king.

Each color of the women's dress piece represented which day it was.

Each color of the women’s dress piece represented which day it was

NIDA 2013!

NIDA 2013!

NIDA Reunion plus new friends!

NIDA Reunion plus new friends!

I like it here so far since I’m used to the city and also I met up with some old friends that I met in Thailand last year. We participated in the NIDA Summer Program along with students from the ASEAN countries, Taiwan, São Tomé and Príncipe, Honduras, and USA (me) so since most of us live in Asia, we’ve been traveling to each others’ countries when we can. I think I’m the second to arrive in Cambodia!

I’ll be in PP for another two weeks so stay tuned!

Day 10: Downtime with the Phare Circus

My research and Khmer language classes are really picking up, as is my actual research topic. I’ve contacted a few people that I’d like to meet and interview so I’m glad things are finally starting to fall into place (for now!). Luckily the other fellows and I had some downtime recently to visit Phare Circus, an organization that focuses on development and the arts. From their Facebook:

Phare Circus, a social business from Cambodia, trains kids from disadvantaged backgrounds in the circus arts for theatre performances in Siem Reap. This innovative social business is a first of its kind and is gaining wide popularity both in its native Cambodia and international markets. They came to Bangladesh for the first time invited by Yunus Centre and performed on Social Business Day at the Radisson Blu Hotel on June 28. The Yunus Centre also organized for them to visit the country side and do a workshop and performance with the kids of the school BG Charcharia Sorkaria Prathomic Biddaloy in Charcharia village of Nawabgonj. 

I’ve never been much for circuses and therefore never attended one. Cirque du Soleil actually came to my hometown (twice) and yet I never had a desire to watch. But man, if you’ve never seen a performance, I highly recommend you start with Phare. Tickets are only $15 for non-Cambodians and $4 for non-Cambodians (I think?) and the great part is that they have more than one show; we watched one entitled “Eclipse” but they’re offering another performance called “Preu” which I hope to see really soon. You also have live music, a small and intimate seating area, and the money from the tickets, donations, food, and souvenirs goes towards supporting the social and educational programs for the performers.

The performers are very approachable, even inviting the audience to come to the stage after its end to take photos and meet the cast. Eleonore, my French friend and fellow Fellow who invited us all, introduced me to them so I exchanged contact information to schedule an interview for my research before I head out to Phnom Penh this Saturday.

Here are a few photos from Phare’s “Eclipse” Performance:

France, USA, and Cambodia

France, USA, and Cambodia

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One of the performers y yo

One of the performers y yo

First photo of the fellows. Sorry for the terrible quality, still trying to work out this new camera

First photo of the fellows. Sorry for the terrible quality, still trying to work out this new camera

If I Could Re-Invent College…

I love studying abroad and would wish it upon anyone. Unfortunately I’m limited to three semesters overseas but I’m glad I spent it all in South Korea because I got to travel to other neighboring countries. I’d make study abroad a requirement with one country per semester/year.

Instead of strict course requirements, I’d have structure through a proposal at the time of the application, which wouldn’t be as binding, just enough to articulate one’s course of action or objectives at the very least. Language study would be the downside since one would rarely use the same language in each country, but that would all depend on your proposal. In your upperclassmen years, some sort of a semester-or-so-long practicum would be required at minimum. This could be anything from an internship, volunteer program, project, or other hands-on experience that transcends your already-alternative education. Finally, I like research so a research component leading up to a thesis would be the final component of this program. However the thesis wouldn’t just be a written document but would invite anything up to a documentary/movie, photographic exhibit, play, performance — whatever!

I would be the first applicant, but I basically just described Semester at Sea.

One can dream!

The Weekenders and Recess were such great shows growing up. It put a group of ordinary kids who lived ordinary lives and did ordinary things, unlike Pokémon, Power Rangers, Sailor Moon, or any other show that had elements of magic or travel (at illogical ages). Both The Weekenders and Recess were not only more realistic but made “ordinary” so much more appealing because their viewers (or at least I) could see myself having the same mundane (yet desired) adventures. I could believe the characters and I wanted what they had, especially with a group of four or five others who could share the same experience and antics together. I didn’t have this growing up but am so glad that I finally did during my study abroad program.

Studying abroad was an adventure of travel and culture that I am so glad the exchange students and I had, together. Korean culture in particular is so different with our own cultures so it’s funny that I can recall the times where we thought were so lost, confused, or screwed the most.