The Children’s Library was closed again yesterday, so I used the free time to my advantage and took a tuk-tuk to Lucky Mall, a more modern mall on the outskirts of town. Unfortunately, the craft store that I was searching for didn’t open until 10:00AM. Being that it was 8:40AM upon my arrival I called Bong Daraneth and she encouraged me to explore the mall and neighboring stores until it opened. It was such a weight off my shoulders to have about an hour of free time because I feel like we are constantly bouncing from place to place. My first stop was the grocery store on the first floor of the mall. To my surprise it resembled a Pick n Save in my hometown, but with shorter ceilings. The set up was relatively the same and they even carried a variety of Western products. My curiosity hit its peak when I started wandering down the self-hygiene aisle lined with familiar Western products like Dove or L’Oreal, but also different Korean, Japanese, and Cambodian products. To my surprise instead of self-tanners, skin-lighteners and bleachers were stocked. Completely opposite to home where tan skin is coveted, here if you tell any woman she looks tan she will take complete offense because that means she spends a lot of time outside working as opposed to being inside where she would stay pale. After my adventures in the mall, I went outside and decided to indulge in a fish massage. Basically all you do is stick your feet in a giant fish tank, and these fish eat the dead skin off the bottoms of your feet. It was WAY too ticklish for me and they fish were big enough that I could actually feel each of their individual mouths nibbling my heels. My biggest fear when jumping in a lake is that a fish will come up and bite me, so I still don’t understand why I paid a dollar for this to happen. Although it is recommended to anyone who travels to Siem Riep, I don’t think I will ever do it again. It was way too ticklish and kind of weird to think I was paying for an animal to eat me.
Unfortunately when I went back to the craft store at 10:00 AM, they didn’t have pipe cleaners, tissue paper or origami paper either. After exhausting all of my options to find these supplies I finally decided that I would be able to complete the craft of making paper flowers just using tin foil and newspaper instead of the tissue paper and pipe cleaners. I made my way back to the Wat, slightly disappointed in the lack of art supplies but optimistic that my innovations may work.
After work, a few of us at lunch at Sister Srey’s again (I can’t get enough of this place!) and we got ready for a tour of Wat Bo Lanka. We met four monks who lived there and we explained the process of becoming a monk, and their daily lives. Then we were lucky enough to receive a water blessing called prah brohm. I wish I could show pictures right now, but we don’t have them from Bong Pheng yet. It was a really incredible experience. The four monks chanted sometimes together or individually while they threw petals and water at us. It reminded me of the holy water blessings that a priest would send out into the parish of a Catholic church. We then got to witness Brandon and Hannah be blessed through a ceremony called srauv duk where they dressed in sarongs and had a monk pour water over them. This ceremony brought both of them good luck for themselves and their families. Venerable San Van then took us all to see a school that he works with and we all played volleyball with the kids for a while. It was a lot of fun, but they had way too much energy for me to keep up with. The busy day ended with a fun night eating at a Mexican restaurant with the whole group! It was a really fun night because usually we all split into mini groups to go out to eat but last night we were able to hang out and reflect on the day together. We have such an amazing group of people here. 🙂