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Monday, January 10, 2011

Burmese Food, Basketball, BBQ and the Beginning of the Soccer Season

Howdy everybody.  Wanted to give a quick update on what we have been up to the past few days and the beginning of the soccer season here in Siem Reap.  First off we went out for lunch last week at a Burmese restaurant and were endlessly impressed with the food.  They had a long list of curry similar to an Indian restaurant with chicken, beef, and mutton options with varying other ingredients - i.e. potatos, split peas, pickled mango.  I had a beef and beef and split pea curry and Gabe had mutton and potatos.  Each dish was accompanied by rice, roti, and a light soup (broth and onions).  I highly recommend that given the chance everyone gives Burmese food a shot - not quite like anything youve tried before but if you are a fan of Indian food you will be delighted by Burmese.

Second off we have started playing basketball again.  For those of you who don't know we have been joining a pickup game that is played every day at 4 or 430.  This week, three of us (with Jordan and his jumpshot in tow) we teamed up with two Korean kids and won three games straight (beating mixed teams of Khmer and Philippinos).  Our friend and fellow expat Tyler, who is from Maine but living here teaching English, showed up and with a team of fast Khmer kids beat us in an exhausting battle.  We are finally getting used to little aspects of the game that make it different from pickup ball we've all played at home.  For one, there is ALWAYS a player streaking to the basket as soon as a basket is made on his hoop or when he sees a turnover.  The hail-mary passes that make those cuts worthwhile are difficult to make, but we are often caught off guard in this way.  Second we are getting used to players who play the same position every point - one player in particular is an approximately fifty-five year old man who sits at the top of the right side of the three point line non-chalantly waiting for the ball.  He rains threes on us constantly - launching the ball with his entire body in the seemingly least athletic way possible. Wet. He has gained our respect quickly although we knew he was a legend the second he stepped onto the court - taking one last drag of his cigarette, stubbing it out on the bottom of his worn basketball shoes, and tossing it to the side.

Next up to share is our visit to a local all you can eat barbecue joint.  For three dollars you are given a grill at each table and a buffet of every meat you can imagine and some you can't.  Beef, pork, chicken - and two un-identifiable ones of similar color.  Squid, crab stick, clams and an assortment of fish cakes.  In addition there is tofu, rice and yellow noodles, rice, and vegetables of all sorts plus spring rolls (fresh and fried).  I actually left the table worried that I would vomit between the table and the street.  I made it and somehow biked home pleasantly plump and stupidly satiated.  Prolly go back this week...

And of course our biggest news is that the Siem Reap Junior Soccer League HAS BEGUN!   Teams in the 15 and under age group took to the fields beginning at 8 am and by kick off at 9 there were easily two hundred kids and fans there.  This number only grew (to probably a total of over 300) throughout the day as more games started every half hour or so - teams play 12 minute halves with a 2 minute water break in the middle.  We have realized that the overall story to be told about the soccer league will come from getting to know people (coaches, families) and kids from all different teams in the league.  On just the first day we learned about a team of girls that walked 4 kilometers to the fields to play in the first soccer game of their lives.  We also learned about a team of international students - from Korea, France, Holland et al. who have also joined the league this year.  Most of our attention of course was on the kids we have trained with from Grace House Community Center - who came out victorious in a 4-2 battle.  We are really hoping to better get to know these kids in the coming weeks and share their stories with you - and you will best be able to determine for yourself what the addition of organized sport has provided their lives.  It was apparent Sunday and will only become so more as the season goes on.

Photos to come soon from the soccer field festivities and a few portraits of the kids from our neighborhood.  New Wassadeal stickers are being made in the next twenty four hours.  Get em while theyre hot or find them plastered over the city of Siem Reap.  Love, Peace, and deep fried tofu with ginger, bok choy, n chicken grease.  Beleedat.

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