Sua sdei from Cambodia!
How is everyone doing!? =)
Here is my Cambodian experience:
After bribing the Vietnamese officials at the Vietnam-Cambodia border (We gave them coconut candies), we entered another splendid country including magnificient temple ruins, endless acres of rice fields, smiling orphans and beautiful skies.
On our first few days in Cambodia, we home stayed in a small town of 10,000 people in the province of Takeo with a kind-hearted Khmai family by the name of Siphen and Mach Meas. Siphen and Mach, a happily married couple with two children, opened up the door to a new way of living in the countryside of an once-very-turmoiled country. Siphen works as an English teacher and Mach is one of the assistant principals at Moy Sophea School, the local school of the town, serving 3000 students from the age of 13 to 19 years. Classes took place from 730am to 11am and 2pm to 5pm. Students go home during peak hours (the hottest times of the day). Anways, my friends and I had an amazing time at the school as we got to interact with many high school seniors and taught them how to sing American songs. We walked into their classrooms and introduced ourselves, and broke out into smaller groups to allow the students to ask us about our lifestyles in America. Shy at first, they often took a few minutes to warm up to us, but became chatterboxes as time passed by! The afternoon was spent playing basketball with the girls' basketball team of the school.
The following day, Nov 5, we drove two hours out to Kampot to work on a outdoor volunteer project with Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, an NGO that helps poor communities improve their living conditions. The 16 of us were taken into a small remote village to build a house (hut) for a mother and her child. We cut down some trees, laid some leaves for the roof, and some more for the walls of the house.. and all in all, we got half of a little hut in the end! That day, we were all dying to find out who had won the elections.. and finally, one of the NGO organizer came by on his motorbike to scratch our itch and announced the wonderful news!
The core of our education on the history of the Khmer Rouge took place in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh when we visited the Toul Sleng genocide museum (the largest detention center in the country) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, where over 17,000 women, men and children were executed from 75-79.
We also spent a day at the orphanage called KDFO (Khmer Development of Freedom Organization), an NGO that rescues children off the streets, who are often found living in the rubbish dumps and/or involved child prostitution. We each was paired up with a child as a big brother/sister, and took them out on a day of cultural development. Together, we watched a traditional Khmai show, and took part of numerous workshops on traditional Khmai music and dance, as well as learning how to carve wood.
Our Cambodian experience finished in Siem Reap where we spent 3 days exploring one of the seven wonders of the world: Angkor Wat. =)
We woke up at 5am every day to take tuk-tuk to the temples, where we would sit in silence to watch the sunrise. In the middle of the day, we would drive back to town to visit the silk farm, donate blood at the community hospital, swim at the guesthouse pool, shop at the center market, buy music from the Boom Boom Room and have some Happy Pizza. And we would then tuk-tuk back to the temples to catch the sunset!
Next destination: Scubadiving in Southern Thailand!
With lots of smile,