Two in Thailand

After raising three children and watching them graduate from college, Bob and Carol decided to leave the educational field and pursue a dream that had been put on hold for 35 years (since graduationg from the University of Northern Iowa). "Two in Thailand" is the journal dedicated to that dream - to serve in the Peace Corps. This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed within do not necessarily represent the views of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Road to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

We have always wanted to see Angkor Wat and took three of our counterparts who had never been inside Cambodia along with us as a way of expressing our gratitude for allowing us to teach with them. We were excited to finally be on the road to Angkor Wat after three months of preparation and paperwork. However, nothing prepared us for the harsh travelling conditions! Our entire body rattled for 4 hours as we sped along a dirt road complete with "washboard" effects. Our driver passed bicycles, motorcycles, buffalo, buses, and trucks with no regard for the safety of others. We hired two "taxis" because the trip by bus would have been six hours and we didn't want to be tired when we arrived. However, the "taxis" had no suspension and we spent the first afternoon in Siem Reap trying to get our brains re-situated in our heads. The second and third picture show a 2-mile stretch that was actually paved. Bob got out to take a picture of the water buffalo pulling the cart. As he was walking, he passed a woman and young child. Notice the expressions on their faces as they stare at the "farang". (For a closer look, click on the picture to enlarge it.)

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Sandstone Sculpturing

We probably took 100 pictures of the sandstone carvings which were on walls, columns, and above entrances. We marveled at the craftsmanship during the 12th century and now realize why some of these temples took 30-40 years to build.

Entrances to Temples

Some of the entrances had warriors and demons holding on to a long seven-headed serpent. The second picture had 52 figures on each side of the road holding on to the serpent.

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Ta Phrom

Ta Prohm is a sprawling monastic complex overgrown with massive fig and silk-cotton trees. It has been intentionally left partially unrestored because of the "tree-in-temple" photo opportunities.

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Other Temples in The Siem Reap Area

We were amazed by the number of temples in the area. We visited a total of 8 temples and could easily have stayed for another three days visiting a few dozen more!! The pictures are of Pre Rup, Ta Som, and the last one is Neak Pean. The waters in the basin, which contained many animal and human water spouts, were thought to have healing powers.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

More Smiles from the "Land of Smiles"

These are pictures from Bob schools. In the first picture are three 3rd graders who constantly come over to Bob's classroom and tease him. In the second picture are some of Bob's sixth grade students during lunch. We are so lucky to be greeted with smiles and signs of respect. The students have so little, but seem to be much happier than students in the U.S. We believe that they focus on "needs" rather than "wants". The only thing they seemed to be spoiled with is love from their parents and grandparents. We believe that America has a lot to learn from other countries!

Wise Guys Retreat

This is a view from our hotel where we stayed for the "Wise Guys" Retreat. Nine of the 12 volunteers in Thailand that are over 50 attended.
Peace Corps has started a "50+ Initiative" to attract more "baby boomers" into the Peace Corps. We met with a representative from the main office in Washington DC and gave him our views on the changes Peace Corps can make to attract more "wise guys" as well as suggestions that would help adapt procedures and practices to accommodate them. Currently, only 5% of Peace Corps Volunteers are over 50, yet they represent nearly 40% of all adults in the U.S. "Baby Boomers" have a lot to offer due to their skills and experiences and are highly respected in many countries served by the Peace Corps. Peace Corps is an excellent avenue to serve humanity and the 50+ group has much to offer. Thailand is one of 10 countries that has been targeted to begin the "50+ Initiative".

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