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I'm in Capba Island just off Halong Bay for the night and tonight's hotel is minus internet access, woe is me! It's meant venturing into the local internet cafe. Instead of being packed out with tourists which I would have sworn during the day made up the population, I am completely surrounded by local kids. The noise level is horrendous and the ones not using a computer keep standing right behind me and my roommate, practically leaning against our shoulders.

So with little room to move I can't do my picture post. Instead I will tell you what my Vietnamese fortune teller saw for me:

The very first thing she said was that I Would marry a -straight- man in two years time (she was very fierce and firm about that!). He's going to be two years older and I am going to meet him in eight months time. It did creep me out that she said he would be American because I will be in America in 10 months time at the absolute latest. Erm I'll have two kids and live a long happy life.

Mine was a bit bog standard but out of a group of ten, mine was the only one that didn't have something ominous in it.
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I've been dreading going to see s21 and the Killing Fields ever since I came to Cambodia but I also knew it was something I needed to face and remember.

I guess I should toss a little history in here, I'm skirting around war and things here because O really can't face reading details right now. . In the 1970s the Khmer Rouge came to power in Cambodia. They wanted a Communist state and rounded up all politicians, teachers, policeman, lawyers who worked under the former government, any one really who weren't farmers or workers, to be put to death so no one could protest the changes.

Warning the details are upsetting )
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On the way to the beach I visited an NGO that works with kids. They teach them to paint and sell their pictures for them. The kids get half the money the picture is sold for directly, and the other half is given to the centre to ensure the money is spent correctly on the kids. I bought a painting and five postcards. I'm willing to send four of those so drop a comment if you want one, I think I have most everyone's addresses now!

A usual throng of kids joined us as soon as we set foot on the beach today, along with two adults who were there to do threading on us (I had under arms and eyebrows done but sidetracking here). The girl who wants to be a tour guide was there and I gave in and got a funky little hairband from her and she pressed another free bracelet on me.

The kids seemed to multiply as the older kids noticed there was a group and herded the younger ones towards a likely source of money. Result, very crowded sun beds and plenty of giggles. Everyone else bought one thing off them during the course of the afternoon but there was a real sense of connection when we ordered a pizza for lunch.

We started on the pizza and looked at the kids. They didn't even seem interested in staring at our food. So we tentatively offered a couple of slices of pizza for them to share. My favourite was the first to make a move and she said with a puzzled smile,

'thank you but we don't know how to eat it'

Kids who have never had pizza. Well we set that to rights, showing them to use their hands and where we start on a slice of pizza. They broke three slices up among them. I'm never going to forget their faces as they took their first bites. Some smiled, some looked cautious and some pulled faces. Over all they decided it was different but not really for them.

When I can upload pictures, I will share three of the kids with you.

When I left the beach I braved two things - I left my ipod in for new songs to be uploaded and got my hair cut.

The ipod place said they could upload songs without deleting old songs (as long as there was space of course). They had a huge book of music, tv and films and I waded my way through it for close to an hour. I opted to try 13 albums all really recent to make sure it worked. It cost me $12. When I picked my ipod up an hour later all the songs were there complete with album art work and so was my old music. So happy with the result, and they've even installed in the ipod how to transfer the music to my computer without losing it. I was most impressed. I think I will get more added tomorrow.

The hair cut was fun and cheap. It cost me $5. It is all trimmed into a neat shape and straightened. After 5 weeks of no hair dryer and straighteners it feels amazingly good. Now if only hair cuts where cheap like this every where.
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Meet the current bane of my life as much as I pity them. As soon as you set foot on the beach they swarm around you, trying to get you to buy bracelets and fruit. Now ignoring them doesn't get them to go away they keep pawing at you, saying how much they need the money. The worst bit is you can't really buy from them, if you buy one thing from one, then all the others demand that you buy something from them. And while one dollar isn't a lot of money, fifteen dollars is!

It does tug at the heart strings though. There was one lovely fifteen year old who wants to be a tour guide and from her height and bone structure she barely looked twelve to me. She sells all day long and goes to school for four hours in the evening. School costs 25 dollars a month and a good day of selling only gets her $5-10. Apparently she is lucky if this happens two days a week and any money she makes also needs to help support her family. I felt so sorry for her and yet there was nothing I could really do to help.

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