Friday, June 22, 2012

Animals in Siem Reap....and a picture of me sweating

I stopped by a client's office to grab some pictures of their van running biodiesel and couldn't help snapping their awesome dog

There are animals crawling all over Siem Reap. During the five hour van ride that originally took me from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, I had to keep myself awake somehow to avoid drifting off onto the shoulder of the van's driver or the large Japanese man I was wedged in between on the front bench. What struck me the most was the sight of so many beautiful stray dogs running around countryside roads and hanging out at each rest stop we visited. It's no different here in town. Dogs are everywhere, and they're really, really adorable. We don't get a lot of stray dogs about in New York City or the United States in general: safety laws, humane societies and the police snatch up untagged dogs, perform PSAs about spaying and neutering and amazing rescue agencies run websites that have hogged many internet browsing hours for me.

The story is a bit different here. I've seen pregnant dogs running about, and tragically, a few dead dogs on the street. I shouldn't leave out all the skinny kittens roaming about, either. My perception of stray dogs has changed--if you see a homeless dog on the streets at home, it's likely dirty and unattractive. I keep waxing on about how gorgeous the dogs are here and how I'm sure they could command a decent price at home. I'd take one! After some research, I've learned that there is a problem with diseases here among strays, so I'm happy that some NGOs are working specifically on this issue. I've cautiously held my hand back from petting them, it's not easy!

I volunteered for a day as a "mycologist," stuffing these bags full of mushroom spores to grow. The cat was a my company.

Not one of the wild macaques. He's in rehab at the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity

And wait, there's more. There are monkeys! Biking around the temples in Angkor Wat produces sensory overload: there are striking, ancient works of architectural wonder and..macaques! I nearly crashed my bike into a tuk tuk when I saw my first macaque, the pesky monkeys living in Angkor Wat begging for food from tourists. Tim shrugged them off as an annoyance, "they're not even monkeys. A lot of them can't climb trees anymore." But, they're monkeys! They're really close to me! Apparently, these guys are big troublemakers. In all seriousness, I read a story in the Phnom Penh post just this morning about a police intervention to find an escaped "thief" monkey that caused a serious amount of havoc.

I don't know, I still love monkeys!
At the ACCB...sweating after a surprise hike up to the top of a mountain, wearing a skirt and the wrong shoes!