It was day 4. We got up early to head over to the nearby market in Takeo Province. The main food team, which consisted of only myself, Mrs Hoo and Kim, Tuk-Tuk over to the market. Powered with our shopping lists and cold hard cash, we stormed the market, buying what we can for the finale dinner. The menu was - Chicken Rice, Onion Omelette, Vegetable Fritters.
At the market, we encountered many different types of vegetables, poultry and spices. These ingredients include powdered curry leaves, eggs sold in bags, and fly infested raw chicken. Walking around, one could feel the hype and the many 'aromas' coming from the raw meat and spices 'rojak' at every corner of the market. Apart from raw food, the market also sold household goods, hygiene goods and snacks. Prices wise, it was more affordable than expected, a chicken less than 10kg costs a mere US$5?
Soon, we were almost done and went out to grab a cup of sugar cane (US$1) before heading back to get more ingredients.
Before long, we're back to the orphanage to start preparing the food for the finale dinner. As a team, we prepared the vegetables together as our Cambodian friends help prepare the meat. A few hours later, cooking begun and I started to prepare the vegetable fritters, mixing them by hand.
I then went to help out in the frying of the egg. As rural as it may seems, it was difficult in controlling the heat from the fire as the wok was placed on a charcoal pit. Thus, frying was done systematically. First, oil was added. As the wok wasn't those non stick kind we had at home, more oil had to be added. Secondly, the
egg mixture was added. The egg mixture had been mixed with caramelised onions and some seasoning to create what we call, the Onion Omelette.
After cooking for awhile, I went out to rest and consumed lots of water. Immediately I felt nauseous and thought it was just another stomach issue. As the minutes passed, it got worse and I found myself back at bunk trying to mitigate the situation by resting. About an hour later, I got up, drank some chicken soup and went out to vomit. Eeeeewwww 🤢
Disgusted, I vomited like how the merlion did. Our first aider, Jeremy Nonis administered first aid on me by giving me some anti acid pills and got me to rest more. I felt so bad messing up the orphanage's Garden and porch :(
Then for some forsaken reason, I was rushed to the hospital with a few others. Still half asleep and drowsy, I was placed into a pickup and drove to Takeo Provincial Referral Hospital for treatment. Together with me included people that had similar conditions as me.
Once reaching, we were seated and waited for the doctors to begin their proceedings. The hospital looked slightly modern but wasn't properly sanitised nor had staff in proper attire. A little more run-down and it'll look like Old Changi Hospital. Doctors (were they even doctors? ) went around in shorts and their white coat.
I was attended after about 15 mins simply just for the doctors consultation. Then asked to wait. During this period, I went to the rest room to vomit my lunch out. Eeeeewwww disgusting 🤢The doctor attended me and I was given some medication (US$3) and was told to consume some coconut water. Next, I visited my team mates and saw them rested at the hospital's rooms. They seem well and I was taken back to the orphanage to be with the rest.
Once back, I took a shower and immediately went to rest. At 5am, my alarm rang and I saw myself heading out to the toilet and back to consume more of my medication. Well, I thought I was a-ok - what happen next, remains in my mind till this very day. The 'skies' turned grey and I saw myself vo-merlioning out the Coconut I drank earlier and the rest of my medicine. Disgusting indeed. And guess what, I vomited on my best buds face and yeap, all was bad. I was weak and fearful of another relapse of vomiting.
I was then attended to, by my dear Cambodian friend Chenda, he washed me with a towel, cooked and fed me meals and kept me feeling comfortable. I was touched indeed, and no one else could match up with him. Well if you're reading this, I'd like to express my gratitude and thanks for being a great brother in scouting despite our language barrier.
It carried on for about the rest of the day up till the closing ceremony, where I missed the entire days worth of activities as I was resting in the bunk. Walking out of the orphanage, a sense of happiness rested with me as I boarded the bus. However, another feeling of sadness that overcomes shortly after when our fellow friends that we had spent over 4 days with are going to be missing us.
Through the 4 days in Takeo Province, I've experienced and learnt that we cannot take our living spaces granted - that poverty does not exist simply because one compares their state of living to another, but it is simply the way of life at that country. It is just a social taboo and culture that is prevalent in the entire nation. From experiencing the locals way of life, I've seen that Cambodians are detailed and honor their work. As such, they take time to finely tune their work and only give the best, especially if you are a guest.
Next up, the city of Phnom Penh
Project Sunshine is a Goodwill Cultural Exchange & Community Service Learning Project organised by the Scouts (17-26 years old) of Singapore Scouts Association and Cambodia Scouts
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22-29 March 2017
Enfant D'Asie Orphanage at Takeo Province, Cambodia