Well we arrived safely and are now really enjoying looking around and seeing how different everything is to back at home! The drive from the airport to the hotel was crazy!!! They do not have any rules on the road at all over here and the amount of motorbikes and scooters around is unbelievable! There is lots of overtaking and very few road markings…(People seem to use their horn for the sake of it – lol)
It is very hot and humid at the moment and it is quarter past 9 at night!!! We are at the hotel and having an early night! We won’t grumble about the heat but it’s just so different from the cold back in London. It’s also very busy and we’ve seen a huge group doing exercises in the square…which looked like fun!
People have been very friendly and welcoming so far so we are both looking forward to meeting everyone else at the volunteering house tomorrow.
Right off to bed….for an early start!
CAMBODIA BLOG DAY TWO: 20th May 2013
We had our 1st day at the orphanage today.. It was an amazing experience to finally meet all the kids! They made us very welcome and we were both very surprised how independent they all are – they just get on with things, making up their own games and playing with each other. It’s like one massive family. They were all pleased to meet us, coming straight up to us eager to find out more about us, where we come from and how we got to Cambodia etc…
If we do not lose weight with the amount of bike riding we’ll be doing I will be very shocked, and a little disappointed. The journey to the orphanage is very interesting. There is lots to see.
We hope the pictures reflect the warm welcome we received and also give you an idea about the location of the orphanage.
Off back to the hostel now and another bike ride….Will let you know how tomorrow goes.
Will and Charlotte
CAMBODIA BLOG DAY THREE: 21st May 2013
I had my 1st lesson teaching English today.. I was the only volunteer to go to a little private village school with a teacher… The age ranges were from about 4 to 13.. The older kids have already gained a really excellent level of English which they seem to talk and write really well every day. We have done several exercises in the class. Helping the children with their questions has been very rewarding.
They have a lovely teacher who is trying really hard with all of them. I worked with the teacher today to help with their English. It has been an amazing day so far. It was fun but quite challenging at times as not everyone can understand you fully so when you’re asking the children to read something to you, they get confused and just look at their teacher.
Off on the bike ride back now. Lets see what tomorrow brings.
Using a bike in Cambodia
Travelling on bikes every day has been ok if you get a bike that works! The first day we travelled about a mile up the road and my tyre literally blew off . Will had to carry it all the way back in the heat bless him.. So it’s fine when you get one that works! It’s quite strange riding on the other side of the road.. Takes a bit of getting used to but the big problem is there are literally no rules on the road, so people just constantly honk their horn and overtake you.
However, despite the journey the day you have with the kids is wonderful. So trying not to think of the journey back and concentrate on what to have for dinner instead. We had a really fantastic fish curry last night so hoping for something as delicious as that.
CAMBODIA BLOG DAY FOUR: 22nd May 2013
Today started off with a trip to the market to purchase some paint for the orphanage.. The girls and I are planning to create a collage of flags for the kids and paint them on a white wall.. Attached are “before photos” of our task.. We had to remove all of the sticks/wood with nails on away from the wall so we could start painting.. It was covered with ants that bite so was quite painful at times!
We then went to visit the monks.. There wasn’t any teaching today as they were throwing a party for another volunteer who’s leaving tomorrow – she has been teaching them for 2 months so they were quite upset to see her leave!
On our way to the orphanage we came across an elephant casually walking down the street… It was amazing to see one up close.. Even the local people were taking photos and happy to see it.
We now have 3 days off due to public holidays, so myself, Will and a few other volunteers are planning to take a trip up to Siem Reap (a 7 hour journey to see Angkor Wat) So we will try and update you as much as we can about this amazing opportunity if there is Wi-Fi!
Every day so far we have been caught at the house as soon as it gets dark… The dogs turn really territorial at night so if you are riding past them on your bike they will bark and chase you. We have had some interesting experiences with them that we will update you on soon.
CAMBODIA BLOG DAY FIVE: 23rd May 2013
We’ve settled in really well now. I have a resident Gecko that keeps me up at night croaking!
All the volunteers are working really well together. On Tuesday Andrew (another Pod volunteer) and I started rebuilding one of the playhouse roofs at the orphanage, it’s fun as we only have bamboo, wire for binding, nails, a hammer and a machete; Got some serious sunburn!
We got a Tuk Tuk (motorbike with a carriage attached) to a school called Little Po. I take a class of around 14-20 children, it’s a beautiful school as its based around a gorgeous temple that you can’t see until you’re deep in the village. Things hit home when the kids are so appreciative of what we are doing and there’s such a quick bond, they’re absolutely fantastic, so happy and well mannered…
In other news, yesterday I took a late night bicycle journey to the local lakeside market of food stalls. Little did I know the dogs are vicious and territorial at night – I got chased by a pack of 4 and my bike was broken, buckled and rusty – very scary and only just got away. It’s sets into reality how careful you have to be. Fortunately Andrew and I have been given access to a motorbike, which is lovely to drive around as long as I remember to keep to the right!
There was a power cut in half of Cambodia and we were told it was due to Vietnam cutting their supply, so it makes you appreciate what we have back home and how independent we can be as a country.
This evening another bicycle broke on me on the way home from the orphanage and I had to lift it on my shoulders while balancing on the back of a motorbike to get back, it wasn’t too much fun.
I’ve attached photos of a Tuk Tuk, the orphanage, our bamboo roof project and my resident gecko that keeps me up at night with his croaking.
CAMBODIA BLOG DAY SIX – 24th May 2013
Today we travelled to Siem Reap which is north of Cambodia, it took us 1 hour to Phomn Penh and then 6 hours to Siem Reap. We all had to share a taxi, 4 squished in the back and 1 in the front (a little more relaxed on the highway code here!).
Once we arrived we checked into a guesthouse, which was amazing and had much needed air conditioning – we then took a trip to the town and went around the night markets. It is so lively at night, it seems like absolutely everyone in the area come out. It was fun haggling with the locals and buying all of my souvenirs.
Will & Charlotte
CAMBODIA BLOG DAY SEVEN & EIGHT – 25th & 26th May 2013
We woke up at 4am on a weekend!! Yes 4am!! Today we visited Angkor Wat and the temples surrounding it. This was truly beautiful, my pictures don”t do it justice. This was a a very fun and tiring day! We had to get Tuk-Tuk rides between every temple as they were too far apart to walk. We also climbed one of the tallest temples in Cambodia! It was incredibly steep – we had to be very careful coming down as it was literally a vertical drop.
Back in Takeo now and volunteering again tomorrow. Cant wait to see the kids again…
We’ve planned in a trip to Rabbit Island on Tuesday – a beautiful island that has glow in the dark plankton in the sea!!!
CAMBODIA BLOG DAY NINE – 27th May 2013
We’re nearly at the end of our trip and it feels like it’s shot past, but at the same time it feels like I’ve been here for months. The thought of coming back to our normality seems pretty surreal.
We had a fantastic weekend, travelling to the other side of Cambodia to Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat. Siem reap was very different to south Cambodia, it’s very much more developed, lots of tourists and busy markets. Angkor Wat was absolutely incredible, we visited around 6 different temples in the day which takes it out of you when it’s 40 degrees!
On Monday we got back to our work and we all visited different schools and ran out our usual routine. It’s still very hard to take in the effect it has on the children, interaction with different people, stories from the west, the chance to learn 1st hand English, it definitely makes you feel good about yourself – were treated like heroes by the teachers and children, yet under the circumstances everyone remains humble, you kind of feel like you wish you could do more…
I’ve added some pics I taken over the last few days to show you this stunning country.
After work today a few of us went to the market and bought extra paintbrushes for our project “Flag Painting On the Wall” at the orphanage. It was fun until it started pouring down with rain so we had to have a little break. It was lucky that the paint didn’t run..
Here’s a few pictures of the stunning sunsets here and today.
CAMBODIA BLOG DAY TEN – 28th May 2013
Tuesday was a national holiday, so 6 of us took a trip south to a costal province called Kep, where we took a very unsteady longboat to an island for one night. The island was a completely different outlook on things, it didn’t feel like Cambodia; but was equally beautiful. The sea surrounding the the island was fantastically warm, and there we hammocks and restaurants around so it was very much like a retreat. It gave me time to really take everything in that’s happened on the trip.
The night took a turn for the worst, three of us have fallen very unwell. It’s quite scary as I’m so far from home and I’m running a really high temperature, makes you think the common cold we complain about back home is so insignificant. I am really hopefully to be ok by Thursday so I can see out the last two days at the Orphanage.
Unfortunately there aren’t enough funds for the rest of the materials for us to finish the roof we are repairing, which is very upsetting. If I’m well enough tomorrow I’m taking the gentleman who runs the orphanage to a market and I am going to donate the money to get the materials. It’s such an affordable donation I feel happy to be able to do it for the kids and leave a personal stamp in their minds of my two weeks out here. Hopefully they’ll remember me as much as I’ll remember them !
CAMBODIA BLOG DAY ELEVEN – 30th May 2013
Feeling better today! It’s been pretty rough but I feel good that I’ve shrugged it off in a sense, had my first full meal in two days ! Its nice to be able to get back on the motorbike to do water runs. I filled up the tank for less than TWO DOLLARS!!
We’re having a little get-together tonight which will be a nice little pre send off. Tomorrow ill be going to say goodbye to my classes and all the teachers and children at the orphanage, I can see that being pretty emotional. I’ve made some really close friends and met such good people its hard to believe I will never see most of them again.
Going to have to enjoy every minute we have left I guess!
CAMBODIA BLOG DAY TWELVE – 31st May 2013
Last volunteering day today! Unfortunately the sickness hit me again last night and I was too ill to go to say goodbye to my class at the school – I at least managed to write a letter to the pupils and the teacher. I had one last trip out to the orphanage which was fantastic – saying goodbye was so hard; didn’t really know what to say! Was quite emotional, back at the centre now so tomorrow we head to Pnomh Penh to see the killing fields then we jet off to England !
Today I went to the Little Po school for the first time with a few other volunteers.. It was so fun and nice to see how different it is from the other school Ben Mal. There are a lot more children here than there are at the other school which is why more volunteers tend to go to Little Po instead.
I took a class of about 12 kids ranging from 8 years old to 15 years old. We had 2 classes, the first one was teaching them about family and relations and the 2nd class had to be about weather and the different seasons that England and Cambodia have. Sometimes it is quite tricky to teach them as you don’t realise what they already know. There’s a large range of abilities in each class so trying to keep everyone interested is the hardest skill. They all work together and help each other though which is nice.
CAMBODIA BLOG DAY THIRTEEN – 1st June 2013
We’re delighted to say we’ve heard that our volunteers have touched down back in the UK. Will is still a little unwell but both him and Charlotte have had a fantastic time.