Bye Vietnam – Hello Cambodia
A lot of wow factor in today’s events with students leaving possibly their first international visit and entering another country – all in one school camp- wow.
We were woken up at 4: 25 am so we could all have our bags packed and down at reception by 5. All but a group of the senior boys managed it. Breakfast was a lot simpler than some of the previous hotels but still nourishing- fried eggs the top choice.
The humidity is the highest we have had and some of the students with sensitive stomachs are feeling the heat.
Mai was fondly farewelled and we boarded a smallish thirty seater boat travelling quite fast along the Mighty Mekong.
We travelled upstream from Chou Doc for over an hour. Pulled up at a jetty, deboated for a few minutes, reboarded, travelled for another 3 minutes, deboated and collected passports with visa applications and were signed into Cambodia.
Got back on the boat for the arduous river travelling ahead. Several students sitting on top and on the bow having great conversations on what they’d seen so far. Others inside sleeping off unwell tummies or getting up too early for teenagers. Spirits are buoyed along with expectations and the thought of spending more money at the markets is high on the list though for some the visit to the outreach centre today is will be exciting.
We had a sad moment when we said goodbye to our guide Mai. We sang her a special rendition of Home among the Gum Trees which she taped so she can learn the words. We also taught her “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree” and ‘I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice-cream’. She is always working on her English and general knowledge. She has been a real treasure and excellent at her job. She is a contractor guide not attached to any one company and is helping her two younger sisters by supporting them through university.
We landed at Phnom Penh and met our new guide Kim. She has quite a back ground. After a coffee at Gloria Jean’s we headed off to see some of Cambodia. Lunch was great with some real Cambodian food yum! Then off to Banteay Prieb. It took a long time to get there as the roads are so bad. The speed limit on highways is 50km an hour but the roads are so bad that you trundle along at 20 or 30. Banteay Prieb was impressive. Indon welcomed us and explained the way the centre worked and took us on a tour. The centre teaches people skills like sewing, mechanics, electronics, shoe making sculpture, fashion and agriculture.
They then take these skills back to their homes. Most of the teachers were ex-students. Indon showed us the spot where one student sacrificed himself to save the life of others by falling on a grenade. It was a healing place and had a wonderful atmosphere. We held a little ceremony and handed over a little more cash the students were really happy to have seen the place that we had heard so much about.
We travelled back to the city and booked into the hotel followed by dinner again great food, then home to bed.