Sunday, December 30, 2007

Shop Until We Drop For a Cause

No temples, no tuk-tuks waiting, we wandered over to the Blue Pumpkin for breakfast and to finish our Internet work. We were lucky enough to find a table on the patio right next to an electric outlet. Strangely, I checked our Bank of America account and there was no record of the $299.48 being deducted that they sent me the alert on. Maybe this is one battle I will not have to battle when we return. The other interesting thing was that when Ron used his ATM card, even though he put in he wanted to deduct the money from our checking account, the money actually was taken from his B of A credit card as a cash advance. I was able to pay the bill immediately so they could not get any interest charges tacked on. We will have to fix this matter when we return. There is something about knowing you have to go back to fight bank battles that puts a crimp in a vacation. Perhaps the Internet is not the blessing we believe it is.

We set today aside as a day for shopping and possibly a massage. There was absolutely nothing we wanted to buy in Malaysia and we do love to add trinkets from our trips to our apartment. Not only do we love being surrounded by the memories, but each and every bed and breakfast guest loves seeing the things we have acquired from various trips. Sometimes, it is creates an opportunity to share travel ideas for them and for us, too.

Being both of us were former social workers, we were drawn to the craft centers that had a social justice underlying theme. We found a craft training center where children are tested for talents and then are given apprenticeships in various cultural crafts such as silk weaving and wood or stone carving. We did a tour of the school annex here in Siem Reap; the main school is in Phnom Penh. We were able to see students carving, sanding, creating lithographs, and so on. There is a gift shop on the premises.

Another shop we found was run for the Cambodian disabled who had learned crafts. This shop sold their goods. We found a coconut teapot to add to our teapot collection. Along the way, we found some fun t-shirts with the Khmer language on it, not one I would like to try learning. We picked up some pillow covers to replace some old ones we have. Then of course, we found some small gifts for friends.

Neither the disabled nor elderly receive any governmental funds, making life difficult for them to survive. One of the schools started with the craft training programs is one dedicated to deaf children. As the sign said, they are ostracized here and this is a way for them to fend for themselves economically.

We had read about the Butterfly Café that is surrounded by mesh and there are varieties of butterflies flitting all around. There is a double door to keep them from getting out. We went for a drink after finding it across the river and off of the beaten track. For the hour we sat there, we saw three butterflies. Guess it is not the season and the workers did not speak enough English to question them. It was disappointing, but an interesting concept.

Ron had read about a massage service offered by blind massage therapists. They have been specially trained in order to support themselves. We found a couple of places advertising this service, but went to the one in the guide. Ron opted for a massage, while I waited outside. They do have seeing people taking the money. He said it was a lot of acupressure type massage where she seemed to be checking for auras. He could ‘feel’ her hand gliding over his body until she felt something and then stopped and massaged that area. For $7.00 for an hour, you cannot beat it and it is helping those trying to help themselves.

We have been in and out of the hotel room all day, dropping off things and then taking off yet again. It has been a fun day with little bags of goodies piling up, but finding space for it in the luggage and then the weight concern will be another story. As Scarlett O’Hara said “I will worry about that tomorrow.”

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