After a weekend of thinking that we're tourists, it's back to real work in Phnom Phen, sort of. David and Louise have returned from the Building Trust International fundraiser in Singapore which was apparently a huge success. After our breakfast of boiling hot noodle soup, hot tea and hot Khmer coffee (to make sure our insides are the same temp as the outside) we met up with David and joined him in Thom's tuk tuk to head out to the site.
Despite our excited anticipation of the previous day's progress, upon arrival we were once again met with a locked shipping container and no real sign of progress. The 10 columns are in, but the side walls were still firmly in place. After an hour or so of enjoying a coconut with Thom, some of the crew showed up, but the language barrier made even the simplest conversations a challenge. We were able to manage to set up a 5:30pm meeting with William, the contractor, back at BTI's office, but that is the extent of today's known progress. Hopefully tomorrow proves us wrong.
Back in the office, we worked on putting together a few more details of the clinic, designing a roof, and creating graphics for the glass walls. William arrived and we went over our concerns regarding the timeline and quality of the work. Most items were met with "Yes, OK" or "that will be very expensive", so almost exactly like a contractor back home, but with less adherence to any of the original contract.
After a bit of an unproductive day, we retreated to the A/C of our hotel room to put all the structural information into one drawing. The air conditioned environment meant that our routine of eating boiling hot food to match the outside air temperature was slightly confused - so we ventured off to remedy the situation. If you haven't guessed by our breakfasts, we are not staying in the tourist area of town, so the language barrier at the local restaurants can sometimes and often does prove challenging. Tonight we found what is best described as hot pot, with a small single burner stove in the center of our table and multiple items to cook in the broth that they provided. The three of us sat there with a staff of at least five trying to figure out what we were asking for. Despite wanting noodles and beef, and believing that we know the words for those two items, it proved incredibly difficult.
Attempt #1. The stove on the table was turned on and the water began its rolling boil, as if it wasn't hot enough already. Five red trays arrive on the table with a variety of items in it, most noticeably none that resembled beef. The first tray was a very nice soft shell crab, second was five prawns and third was what we believe to be squid. All looked delicious but not what we were looking for and JD has an allergy to shellfish. JD, as the staff appeared to perceive it, rudely sent those items back.
Attempt #2. Three trays of beef arrive. We are still trying to google allergic in Khmer so they don't think we are rude, it doesn't seem to translate. The hot pot ended up being delicious and our staff remainded by our side through the whole meal, they must have known we were special people.
So after breaking into a nice strong sweat over dinner we have retreated to the A/C of the hotel to continue our drawings over a beer. We hope tomorrow proves more productive.