Monday, April 25, 2011

Back and forth and back and forth.

…is how the next few months will play out it seems. And my feelings about the whole thing

Currently I am writing from my site. I have been here for about a week since returning from Sumatra and now I’m planning on leaving again. Going – literally – across the country to attend a Peace Corps volunteer’s wedding to a Cambodian man. I really can’t wait:) It will be a bit difficult in the end considering that when I return next week and I will then need to help my GLOW girls host a workshop on leadership on the 5th and then -nearly immediately after-hold my 50th Anniversary “Clean-Up-The-Library” project on the 7th. Whew.

I will then attend our Close of Service conference from the 17th until the 20th. After that I will only need to teach until I start my externship at CCPCR (The Cambodian Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights) on May 30th. I will live and work there, in the provincial town for about a month. In July I will come back to site and say my goodbyes and then it will be off to Phnom Penh to meet my friends and finish all my paperwork. My Close of Service (COS) date is July 12th.

When I think about how much (or how little) time I have left I start to get very anxious and so I’m trying to take it all in stride…. And not really think about it. When I do I’m happy because I’ll be going home! But then I’m sad because I will be leaving Cambodia. But then I’m happy because I’ll have a washing machine and Starbucks. But then I’m sad because I don’t know if I’ll be able to find a job and the winter in PNW is very depressing in itself without being unemployed.

Anyways…....About Sumatraa!!!!!!

It is beautiful. And completely devoid of all those gap year kids and backpackers that crowd the nice places on mainland SE Asia.

When I initially bought my plane tickets to this (very large) Indonesian island I had no idea what to expect. What I knew about Indonesia could be summarized in less than ten words - them being - Muslim, tsunami, Bali, Barack Obama, rain forests, coffee, and Palm oil. Air Asia being awesome (although a huge pain in buying the tickets themselves) I was able to score round-trip tickets from Phnom Penh to Medan, Indonesia, for $130. And any plane ticket less than $75 each way is as good incentive as any for a vacation (also there were seven of us going on this trip so - no matter what - it would be a good time).

It was a whirl-wind trip. I still can't believe I was there for two weeks - it felt more like three days. So as to not bore you with the details, here are a few of the places we went and things we did/saw:

Medan: NOT A TOURIST town and could very well be the worst place I've ever traveled to... ever. It has the only airport in Northern Sumatra, so there was no escaping it's banality. It somewhat redeems itself in my eyes by having a Starbucks... but that is pretty much it.

Bukit Lawang: AWESOME. We stayed at the Ecolodge Hotel the first and last night and on the second went into the jungle. We trekked for the entire day - only stopping occasionally to eat and drink some water. Sometimes the trekking got a bit frightening as some parts of the hike were so steep I would say we were doing more rope climbing (although in this case the ropes were tree roots) than hiking. We hiked until we got to the campsite, a small place on the river, and refreshed ourselves by going swimming. That night it really POURED on us and, of course, my sleeping spot under the makeshift tarp tent had a hole in it. Eventually I was able to get some sleep and the next day we all did some more trekking along a ridge near our campsite. In the afternoon we packed up our (mostly wet) things and rafted back to town.

Berestagi: The next day we were off to see Berastagi and hike up a volcano! On our way there our helpful, and somewhat clingy, trek guide from Bukit Luwang came with us and so we wnded up stopping at a Crocodile Farm when we passed through Medan. It was a very sad place. The crocodiles had no room to move and were literally living stackee\d upon each other. There was a pond in the back of the place where some of the crocodiles were allowed to swim. One of my fellow Peace Corps volunteers paid to feed a crocodile a live duck. Still am on the fence about how I feel about the whole thing. A crocodile has to eat... right??

Finally we got to our hotel, the International, and called it a night. The next day we were up and out early to hike up the volcano and hit up the hot springs. It was a really nice hike and mush less tiring than the trekking. The place smelled like sulfur, but we were all able to get a few good pictures out of the whole deal.

Lake Toba: The bonus about traveling in a group of 7 (or one of them) is that you get to take private transportation everywhere. So, after we gloriously triumphed in Berastagi, we piled in our third rented van and headed to Lake Toba, the largest crater lake in the world. We were actually going to stay on an island, Samosir Island, on the lake ( an island on an island...).

This was our most relaxing leg of our trip and nearly me favorite. We biked around the island a lot, swam, and played tons of Scrabble. We also discovered a place called Tabo that has beautiful bungalows, a bakery, and I really good buffet breakfast. We didn't stay there (we stayed at Carolina) but we did partake of their delicious baked goods and home roasted (and grown!) coffee.

On the 14th I was back in Cambodia and dreaming of Sumatra. If another chance comes up, I will definitely go back :)

If you want to read more about our Sumatra trip my friends were a bit more thorough... AND posted pictures... on their blogs.

Jen and Nathan's blog
Jacq's at
Kristin's at
and Jeremy's at

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