A Travellerspoint blog


I love Saturday mornings in Cambodia.. we have the whole day ahead of us to do anything we want! I slept in this morning and laid in bed to check facebook only to be summoned out to the kitchen by the rest of the girls eager to go and get breakfast in town! So I dutifully reported for breakfast and we headed into the Le Crepierie where I had yet another delicious meal! We then came home to get ready to go to the Angkor National Museum and Wat Thmey. Our tuk tuk driver took us to a local travel agent so we could pre-purchase our tickets, Tara was very skeptical and wondered if we were being ripped off but when we arrived we found it was the same price. I also ordered a headset so I could be educated as we went around.
The museum is so well set out with different aspects of Khmer culture and religion represented with some amazing artifacts. I am a museum buff so I loved it and I found it fascinating.
After the museum we got back in our tuk tuks and went to Wat Thmey. The Wat Thmey Temple is notable for being an area that served as one of the killing fields during the Khmer Rouge regime in the country. The Wat Thmey Temple is notable for being an area that served as one of the killing fields during the Khmer Rouge regime in the country. It was a very sobering reminder of all that this country has been through and how far they have come in a relatively short time.
We visited the monastary next door where they had a stunning buddha and some beautiful paintings that reminded me of India.
Tara and I had booked into a guesthouse up the road from us as we were both needing some me time.. my roommate Kristie is wonderful but I just wanted time to myself so when we got home we packed our port and went up the road where I spent the afternoon watching a movie and catching up with people back home on Facebook. I went downstairs to organise breakfast and as i was talking to the security guard, Kristie, Ashlee and Lauren were walking past on their way to dinner.. so I decided to join them for a cocktail.
The cocktail was lovely and then I ate a banana split and went back to my room.. watched another movie and fell asleep.

Posted by sonya13 22:54 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Cricket and Karaoke

Yet another fabulous day in Cambodia, we got to school a bit earlier than we needed to as the Kurata girls had to start earlier than us and so Ashlee and Lauren decided to ride to school with Lisa on their pushbikes I was not going to attempt it but have since decided to give it a go next Friday (god help me!) I got a lift in our bus and spent the morning ruling up pages for the grade 6 projects and trying to help Sraal and Hoy set up the new printer at the school.. they were so excited to try it. When Kaann and I walked in to the library we noticed Kurata's yellow table sitting in the middle with the librarian set up on it.. uh oh a bit awkward but we had to tell her it wasn't for this school but the other one!
When school started we headed to the outdoor classroom nicknamed the Pavillion and set up the first activity. Lauren asked the children to draw a picture of their family and home and we encouraged them to label the picture with English words and then write a sentence about their picture - it was a fun and easy activity that they were still learning English words so everybody had fun with it.
After sitting still for so long we thought we would show the kids how to play cricket.. with the help of Kaann our translator we explained the rules.. we then encouraged the children to count their runs and to give each other instructions in English.. they really enjoyed it and I laughed so much at how competitive they all got! After cricket Ashlee showed the kids how to do a relay race and we then did a three legged race before calling it a day. It was such a fun morning and I think the kids really enjoyed it.
After lunch we had the next group and I did an activity on the days of the week. The first part of the activity I gave the kids 7 pieces of paper with the days of the week on it and split them into groups they then had to put all the days in the correct order. They all nailed that pretty easily which made me realise they knew their days of the week so I decided to try and teach them the concept of before and after.. which was very very hard and even though a few got after and they were all a bit more confident with that concept.. before was almost impossible for them to grasp.. but I think if it was repeated enough times in different ways they would eventually get it. We played the game where we had all the days of the week on the board in random order and they had to find the correct word when I read it out or the correct day before or after. The first person from each team got to write an X or an O in a naughts and crosses game. It was lots of fun but very exhausting to teach as it was a brand new concept in a second language.. one of those nice juicy challenges. After I finished my activity Lauren did her draw your family activity and it again was a great success.. I love this type of play based learning and really hope it helps the kids.
While we were waiting for Group 2 we went next door to visit the family as we had been eyeing off these brand new puppies all week and wanted to have a play. We were very disappointed as they were completely terrified of us and just ran away and hid! I have never seen puppies do that so they must not be handled very much here. The man who lived at the house grabbed a puppy and handed it to me and he was so frightened he peed on me much to their amusement and the girls.
We finished a bit earlier but had to wait for the Kurata girls so sat around talking about our plans for the night to take the teachers out on the town.. we are very excited to get to know them a bit better outside of work and to say thank you for everything they have done :)
We got home and sat around the table drinking a beer and listening to music to get ready for our big karaoke night. We then got dressed and found a couple of tuk tuks to take us all the way to the Crystal restaurant which was quite a hike!
Turns out the trip was worth it.. hands down the best dinner I have had since coming here.. it was a set menu that was delicious. Antipodeans Abroad covered the cost of the dinner and we all paid for the drinks. The restaraunt had traditional dancers and music and it was a lovely place with great atmosphere. The teachers were all laughing and having a good time while we compared our cultures and teased each other and talked about how teachers are here and in Australia. It was truly a lovely and friendly evening.
After dinner we headed into town for Karaoke and went to this place called The Blue Sands. This is when things got a bit weird.. we pull up at this place and there is a type of red carpet entrance with a couple of guys in suits and a line of skimpily glad good looking cambodian women.. I am not sure why they are there and don't really want to know.. we are then led upstairs to a series of rooms where there is a karaoke machine, a pool table and a big long line of couches. The Karooke playlist is in English, Khmer, Thai or Japanese. I started to play a bit of pool but they play differently over here and it got too confusing so I gave up haha. We then got into the singing where we discovered some great Cambodian music and some truly awful English songs that they love but we had never heard of! For drinks they brought up a hot carton of Angkor beer, a couple of buckets of ice and some straws!!! Needless to say I only had one beer!
I loved the night though and everyone seemed to have a great time and that was what it was all about. At the end the teachers put on Right here waitin by Richard Marx and announced that they would be right here waitin for us to come back and visit them again.. it was very sweet!

Posted by sonya13 18:33 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Late, late, late!

No school on Thursdays which means we get to sleep in yay! We woke up and had a leisurely breakfast where we got to eat vegemite on toast woot woot. We then started to make plans for the day. Billy was coming for a visit at 11 and so Ashley, Lauren and I thought we could quickly duck off to the hairdressers to get our hair washed before he got there.. of course we were 15 minutes late which set the tone for the rest of the day! The water is so iffy here and hot water tends to run out before you can finish washing your hair and our shower is a hand held one and it is quite painful to hold it and wash your hair so for $3 it is so much easier to get someoone to do it for you and they do an amazing job.. I am thinking of going back and getting my hair coloured there next week :) It is a small Cambodian owned salon called Angkor Salon and Spa and they don't speak any English but are so lovely and with lots of hand signals and a bit of English we get across what we need :)
We had a lovely catch up with Billy and discussed our time here so far and our plans for dinner tomorrow night that we have organised to say thank you to our teachers and translators. We then went to this groovy little place with fake grass and hammocks where we all had BLT's for lunch before meeting Kaann for our shopping trip for the school.
Before going shopping I was supposed to meet Kaann at the guesthouse at 1.30pm and of course I was late from lunch.. (I hate being late!!) Kaann and I went up to meet Lisa as poor Ashlee had tried to get money out of the ATM and the machine took her money out of the account but didn't give it to her so she had to ring Suncorp to sort it out.. we are all sending good vibes the money is back in her account tomorrow!
Lisa, Kaann and I then went on a mission to figure out how to get these kids books printed and what a pain it has been.. we have not been able to come up with a cost effective option so if anyone has any ideas on how to print a 35 page photo book cheaply let me know! At this stage we might make two full books for each school and leave that in the library and make little books up for the children in the photo book project so they have a keepsake.
We then went to meet Sraal to buy the printers and have a look at some furniture for the school. Of course we were running late again... arrrgh! We purchased two printers for the two schools HP printers with scanner and photocopier for $265 for both.. ink is only $6 to refill so they should be sustainable for future use. Sraal was very happy with his printers and we were happy to purchase them for him.. thank you to all our friends who made it possible. We then had a look at some of the furniture but couldn't decide which would be the best bookcase to buy so we took photos and will show the librarian and administrator and they can decide. They were cheaper than we expected and were only $85-115 we are very excited that we might be able to buy everything on the list.. again thanks to everyone's generosity.
We bought a low table for the Kurata school library as they have no furniture at all.. it was very cool and we will buy all the stationary on the weekend and if money is leftover we might be able to optomistic and happy about how this is going to help the school out.
We sat around talking about what we had done and eating snacks before I decided to clean my room and organise the mountain of paperwork I had accumulated for lessons and our fundraising budget! While I was doing that Kristie and Tara came in to watch a movie - it was called "Some Girls" and it was truly the worst movie I have seen in ages.. don't watch it!
After that had finished we finally got to the little restaurant up the road called Star Rise where we had been told by the lovely Lisa that they made the best crepes and after trying them I had to agree! After dinner Kristie, Sophie and I headed into the night markets for our nightly foot massage... the best $3 I spend each day. The staff there are used to us now and chat to us and practice their English.. they are all lovely.

Posted by sonya13 06:14 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

School Photo Day

So today was supposed to be an organisational day until we found out that there was no school tomorrow and so we decided to do all the class photos all day in their 10 minute breaks! These kids have never had class photos that we take for granted so much in Australia so this will be a real treat for them. The process involved getting Kaann to come with us to 2 classrooms at a time and asking the teacher to let their class know to come to the photo spot at the break. At the break we then had to organise the children very quickly to stand/sit in some semblance of order and smile while looking at the camera with a huge language barrier! Keep in mind some of these classes have 50 children in them! We were exhausted by the end of the day. We asked the English teachers to take the photos as we want this to be a sustainable project where the cameras we donated to the school will continue to be used and so if they are comfortable and confident in using the cameras they will utilise them.
We also spent the day talking to the librarian and administrators about what they would like us to purchase for the school and it was such basic stuff that it nearly broke my heart. They shouldn’t have to beg volunteers for stuff like A4 paper and glue for goodness sake! When I told Sraal that we were going to try and buy the printer tomorrow he was like a kid at Christmas he was so excited… a PRINTER!? A basic printer.. the mind boggles at how lucky we have it back home. I also quickly realised that we might not have enough money to cover everything they wanted and I really wanted to give them as much as possible so I put the word out to my facebook page and my beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful family and friends rallied and we managed to raise an additional $400 in a few hours! I am so incredibly grateful for their generosity and wish them lots of good karma! I can vouch that their money is going to a truly wonderful cause. These kids live in the most primitive conditions with barely enough to survive but for those few hours at school they are happy, learning and bettering themselves and will hopefully break that cycle of poverty.
Another great part of the day was the bus trip home from lunch where we started teaching our translators some English songs like the Backstreet boys and then Pech surprised us by knowing Robbie Williams’ Angel so we all sang it together. Great bunch of people I am working with.
After school Tara and I were on a mission to go to a market up the road which the guy from Rosie’s told us sold Vegemite! We set off and found it and it was like winning lotto .. not only did they have vegemite but they had Cadbury chocolate, Magnum iceblocks and cheese! $35 later I had stocked up on goodies :/
When I got home I had to grab Sophie and meet Lisa to go and talk to the guy about getting my tattoo over here. He was very good a French guy and his tattoo shop is called Lex Roulor Tattoo shop http://www.lexroulor.com I have decided to get a traditional Cambodian flower called the Rumdul and the quote “To travel is to live”
We then went to dinner with our beautiful hostess Davy at a great restaurant called Soria Maria Hotel for their $1 night which included a huge array of tapas and drinks for just $1 each. Such a bargain and the food and drinks were beautiful. Soria Moria is a small cheerful hotel with a special touch, located in the center of Siem Reap. The hotel was established in 2007 by a Norwegian couple with a strong interest in the sustainable development of tourism and several years of experience with living and working in Cambodia. In 2011 all employees were made partners and owners in the business, which makes Soria Moria the first employee-owned hotel in Cambodia. Check out their website to see what a great business this is http://thesoriamoria.com/about-us/
Lauren was keen to go into town and do some more shopping and I am always up for a $3 foot massage so we went to the Night Markets (again!) I bought a couple of presents for Savannah and got a ½ hour foot massage (man I am going to miss these when I get home.. Gary you might have to get skilled up!)
Another wonderful day in Cambodia and another day where I feel blessed to be alive. xx

Posted by sonya13 06:56 Comments (0)

Too early...

Wake up at 5.20am to be ready for school by 7am... sooo tired.
When we arrived at school we noticed all children cleaning the yard.. can you imagine our kids back home having to do this?
Lauren and I finished the photo project with our group of Grade 4s. They chose their favourite photo for their theme, wrote a few sentences in Khmer and English for the book and now we just have to figure out how to put it all together. Lisa was meeting with somebody today so hopefully we will have an idea of how it is going to be put together..
We finished the project fairly early so spent the extra time we had brainstorming what we were going to put in the resource book we are putting together for the school and also what should be included in the volunteers guide we are leaving for the school. The volunteers guide will have all the hints and tips we have learned as we have gone along, such as what to wear, the routines of the school etc
There was a mix up with the schedule (a bit of a recurrence at Spitler) and so our Grade 3s didn't come for their activities so we tried to make good use of our time organising ourselves for the last few weeks.
While we were waiting to take the class photos a couple of tourist buses turned up with some Americans who were being shown around with the hope they would become donors. We chatted to them for a while and and told them what we were doing and a little bit about the school.
We also started our first lot of class photos for the Kindergartners, Grade 1s and 2s. So fun organising the little ones and the photos are precious. We are going to print out a copy for each student including their teachers.. cannot wait to see their faces when they get it.
After lunch Lauren and I went into the classroom where we helped Sineth teach English which translates to watching Sineth work his magic and helping where we could. We did teach them the Hokey Cokey which was heaps of fun.
After work we finally all sat down and watched My Khmer Heart - a very controversial documentary about Geraldine Cox that has polarised some of the volunteers in Cambodia. It was quite disturbing and my conclusion is that although I think she means well as far as the actions she did in the documentary she is not doing it correctly or ethically.
For dinner we decided to go back to Rosie's bar and have burgers.. I had the chicken burger which was yummo! We then tried to find a restaurant we thought would be good for Friday night when we are shouting the translators and teachers for dinner. After walking the street feeling lost we found out from a tuk tuk driver that it had closed 6 months ago.
Ashlee went home while Tara, Lauren, Kristie and myself headed to the night markets where I bought some presents and a few other things before having the best foot massage I have ever had (sorry honey!), I wish I had got 30 mins instead of 15 but I did do 15 minutes of shoulders and back. I came home and had a night time cold tablet and slept so well.

Posted by sonya13 06:49 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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