Filling in the blanks

My name is Tom and I am with the SeeBeyondBorders group for June/July. Our group consists of past, present and future teachers from Glenwood Public School. I will refer to them from time to time in the blog so for the record they are Anne, Jenny, Karen, Peter and Simone.

Here are some of the notes I have made so far. Pardon any typos as I tend to write without thinking too hard about it!

June 27

After several hours and despite the immaculate airline service, an idea for a SOLE lesson springs to mind: How would you invent a matter transporter? Long time sitting for Sydney to Phnom Penh.

2:48 Singapore time: Karen sits on the terminal floor and busks by demonstrating how to make a towel from a lozenge. No kidding, this is real thing. Just add water.

3:57 at the gate. Peter can’t help but come up with lines for songs: “We’re in the line for the line to make the penultimate trip.”


June 28

Woke to a brain smashing headache and tectonic stomach heaving (reaction to malaria medication? Climate change?), but all was well with the consumption of meal called “Smart Toast.”

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Off to the bike ride, the length of which seemed to expand in our imaginations in direct proportion to the rising temperature and humidity. A nice start in a cool mini-bus kitted out like one of the shuttles of the starship Enterprise. Course laid in for the ferry, warp five. Make it so! Not that she meant to, but Karen managed to seek out strange new life forms in the shape of a small green grasshoppery thing. Though she named it Gerald and was sad for it not being able to find any green to hide in on the ferry, she was nevertheless happy to have it flung off her sleeve.

Amazing cycling through the riverbank small rural holdings. Frequently very quiet and with a relaxing stillness punctuated by disarming “hellos!” from the small children along the way.

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The first (and mega-welcome) break came at the Heng Naysim Khmer tradition silk weavers. Very generous hosts (despite not expecting us) who shared their fine skills and their fine hospitality. Silk goes from a thick, wiry, scratchy stuff to – well, silk! The transition is amazing! There was a dog sitting in the yard whose head was drowsily nodding on the edge of sleep.

Wonderful lunch on an outdoor setting of concrete shaped like logs. More Dragon Fruit, which some had already discovered in the “Good Start” breakfast. Dragon Fruit sounds like something they’d eat on Game of Thrones, looks like something they’d eat on Star Trek and tastes like something they’d eat in Michelle’s patisserie. Among its more medicinal properties, it was determined by one of us, was a potential treatment for a life long aversion to fruit. And that was just one of the marvels on the table. So many varieties of sweetness and colour. Willy Wonka eat your heart out.

I think Ed Shuttleworth made them happy with a potential order for two-hundred SeeBeyondBorders silk scarves!

Back on the road. Someone took a spill. A school kid we saw took a tumble too. Each took it in good humour. We’re all human and not evolved for bicycles so any time spent on them is a triumph in itself.

Quite a lot of mud and hard to avoid. “Rooster tail” was an expression I learned on this ride.

More children lining the street with waves, high fives and greetings, just like the royals get. Except maybe for the high-fives.

Sometimes the string of cyclists got so stretched out that the lines of communication broke down. I followed Peter who followed someone else and we all cycled right past our turn-off to the ferry. To get to the ferry it was swing left into the temple compound, around the old temple, past the kids playing in the neglected out-buildings, along the wall and left down the track to the place where the farmers wash their equines. Have a go at that, Siri.

I think we were all pretty okay until with came to the Tractionless Sands of Unforgiveness. Really hard to steer and keep an even keel. Time to get off and push.

Extraordinary to reflect later that the dappled ride through quiet farms and holdings might be lost to the high rises slowly spreading along the bank.

Swapping stories of the fuel and unkind collateral of travel. But Peter puts us right when he says, “For every time you get ripped off, someone else does something kind for you.”

“Don’t eat fruit that looks like eyeballs or that you have to eat in the bath.” Karen 5:32 pm

Local traffic occasionally uses lane markers as an optional navigational aid. Drive-through is uber-handy. Just set your franchise up in the middle of one of the lanes. Everyone else steers around, no worries.

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