After a quick turn around we were back on tuk tuks. The tuk tuks in Cambodia are small carriages pulled by mopeds. We were heading to a school called “New Hope“. The first stop was the old grounds the school originated from. It was in a very poor area with terrible roads. Despite all the poverty children were smiling and waving at us as we bounced up and down in the tuk tuks. We had a local guide with us who was a former student of the school. He walked us around the old grounds which where very small and had now been turned into a shelter for homeless families. The school had started with a small number of students but it had grown over the years to the point that the original buildings were to small. The school moved to their current grounds which was bigger and had modern buildings. The school wants to help anyone in the community with there education. They have luau gage classes for anyone who would like to learn English. There is a restaurant in the new school which they use to train people who would like to be a chef. We ate at the restaurant the food was delicious and presented well. Some people even dared to try a cricket. We did have the opportunity to sit in on the end of a English lesson with the children. When we entered the classroom all the children stood up and asked us in sync ” how are you today?” The classrooms had paint coming off the wall and pictures stuck over. There was a big white board at the front with a grammar lesson written on it. After the class had ended we had a few minutes to talk to the children. I spoke to a 16 year old boy. He supported Man United and wanted to grow up and have a office job his English was very impressive. Out side the classroom was a massive pile of huge bags of rice which are given to families that are struggling so long as there children attend school. There was also a health centre on the grounds were people could visit and get aid. Towards the end of the visit we watched a short video which showed all the work the school and health centre had provided to there community. They work from donations and volunteers from around the world. Show your support…http://www.newhopecambodia.com
This is possibly the longest day I have had so far on my trip. It started at 5AM on a bus going to Angkor Wat. First you collect your ticket which they print your picture on. After you are parked up you walk to Angkor Wat Temple with all the other tourists. You feel like you are in a race with everyone to get there first. You all gather around the pond just in front of the temple and wait for the sun to come up. As you are waiting for the sun or trying to get a picture without arms,heads and cameras in there are Cambodian children constantly trying to sell you souvenirs. I’ve been told to ignore the children because if you do buy from them it encourages this behaviour which Cambodia is desperately trying to get away from. The sunrise came and it was beautiful you can’t describe it but you can with a photo. I had a couple of hours break before heading back to Angkor Wat. I came downstairs to the lobby of the hotel were I met a young Cambodian man. I was waiting for the guide and group so I started to talk to him. He was 20 years old and worked in the hotel for $80 a month. On top of working 6 days a week he was studying mandarin on a evening and teaching children English in a temple one hour a week. He wanted to work in business and asked if he could add me on Facebook as he would like to see my traveling pictures. He was such a lovely guy and I wish him well for his future. The rest of the morning was exploring Angkor Wat and two other temples ( tomb raider temple) with a guide. The temples are amazing and the best way to describe them to you is yet again through pictures.
After a long day at the temples we returned to the hotel for some down time. I had decided to try quad biking. I got picked up in a tuk tuk and taken to the quad biking centre. I got a short lesson by our guide on how to use the bikes then drove one around a field with a worker on the back. The guide led you through the main roads on to a more rural path. On the rural paths we passed fields, cows, children waving, villages and scooters. We rode one section on a open grass plain which was fun we got to get the quad up to a decent speed. We pulled in to watch the sun set over the fields. The sun went down and then it was time for night riding. We rode back to the centre in the dark which was fun as well. Our guide wanted to take us out for dinner so after the quads I had a quick shower as I was covered in mud from going through puddles in the quad. That night we ate on pub street. After the meal we decided as a group we needed some drinks and headed back up pub street to find a bar. We spent most of the night at the Angkor Wat? Bar. It is covered in graffiti and UV paint. We sampled the buckets, danced on seats and tables, took many photos which will not reach Facebook and got in around 2:30.
The next day we travelled from San Riep to Phon Phem the capital city. It was on a public bus. It took about 8 hours and it was on the bumpiest road I have ever experienced. The hotel in Phon Phen was called Queens Lodge it was nice it had a roof top pool which was a funny colour. The first night I had a early night due to buckets from the night before.
Most of the group had decided to take Tuk Tuks to S21 Prison and the killing fields. We went to S21 first which was where they tortued people before burying them in the killing fields. The buildings are now a photo exhibit with one or two rooms still having the bed that someone had been chained to. The exhibit explains everything that happened and is very gruesome in some parts. I felt like I shouldn’t have been there especially as it only ended 1980. There are stains on the steps which you can only think must be blood. After making our way through the prison we headed to the killing fields. We had paid $20 for the tuk tuk all day. Our driver told us he was a survivor of the genocide he was 10 years old when it happened. The killing fields was not what I had expected. It was very green and beautiful which I know sounds weird as it is such a tragic place. I did feel very strange looking at the tree which they used to beat babies on and the monument in the middle which houses skulls of the victims. After a long emotional day we met up with everyone to go to the food market for tea. It was a square outlined with food stalls and the centre was covered in big mats which you sat on to have your food with everyone. Once the food had gone down we headed round the market next door and I tried Bubble Tea. It’s tea with jelly init I had tapiyakka in coffee… It was horrible. A few drinks were needed to wash the bubble tea down. We went to the Riverside Rooftop Terrace for some jugs of Angkor Wat before bed.
It was a 4 hour bus ride to the beach town. It was very nice to see the sea again. The tour booked us into Nice Beach Hotel. Quick change into beach wear and we were all heading to the beach for a afternoon of sun sea and harassment. When laying on the beach there are children and adults constantly coming up to you trying to sell you something or give you a massage. Oh and we had westerners flyer dropping for bars as well. Thrift is really bad on this beach we got lockers on the beach as the chi,drew steal them. That evening we booked to go on a boat trip to the a island for the next day. We ate at Angkor Wat Bar and enjoyed there sea food BBQ on the beach. Whilst we were having dinner we purchased a lantern to set off which of course nearly caused a small fire. The table next to us purchased fire works and set them off right next to us. I don’t think I’ve ever been that close to fireworks. We did have a look for some night life but the beach clubs were empty so we headed back.
Our last day was spent on a long tail boat at sea. The first stop was just off gold deer island were we did some snorkelling. The sea was not as clear as Thailand but it was still full of coral and fish. After some snorkelling we docked on a beautiful island were we had the sand to ourselves and the sea to play in. After a few games of frisbee in the sea our lunch was ready. Sat on the beach we tucked into chicken or fish then had pineapple later. Once our food had settled we then got back on the boat for one more stop of snorkelling. Snorkelling was short lived as we spent most of the time jumping off the boat. The day was very long and tiring especially after being in the sun that long. In the evening I went for tea at a restaurant called Chez Claude it was a 5 minute Tuk Tuk ride from the beach. The restaurant is at the top of a hill. You have to take a wooden cable cart powered by a man on a tractor to reach the top. The views at the top were amazing it looked over the town and a very nice resort. The food was lovely I had a omelette with pork and noodles.
Our last day in Cambodia was spent traveling to the Vietnamese border it took only 4 hours. Immigration for Cambodia went very quick then we had to walk along a road to the Vietnamese immigration. You have to put a dollar in your passport so you are not sat there for hours waiting for one stamp. Once we had walked into Vietnam we got back onto the bus and drove 40 mins for a quick lunch then on I to the country side for a home visit.