Category Archives: travel

Fundraiser Run

Day 208: Still going ahead with plans for the running festival, and setting up a donation page to use it to raise funds for Cambodia kids – New Hope Cambodia is the charity. Training still going to plan, day on day off, with roughly 30min run/walks over 3-4km.

This is a photo from Cambodia, straight out of camera.  This is true life for these kids, shanti houses, dirt roads, not much food.  Please help and donate to a good cause.

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Cambodia Night

Day 171: Tonight I’m catching up with the group of girlfriends I went to Cambodia with. We are having a photo night to compare and reminisce. We are having traditional Cambodian food – Amok, fish cakes, and I’m making a curry in my trusty slow cooker today. The smell is filling the whole house with a delicious sweet curry smell. Can’t wait to see all the girls.  No doubt there will be mojito’s as well.   My photo today is a manipulation on one of the temple photo’s I took, trying to make photo art!

The Compassionate Camera

Day 152:  I’ve been meaning to look up this amazing photographer since I got back from Cambodia.  It’s a collection of photographs to help charity, by photographer Deborah Groves, amazing shots of the temples and monks, local kids. Check out her website www.grovesphotography.com I bought one of her shots and brought it home to remind me of my travels (my photo’s never seem to make it to print these days, all just on the computer).  This is one of my photos – not as good in comparison, but still good all the same.

Full circle

Day 130: Check out of hotel and Cambodia. Can’t believe I’ve done it. Feel empowered to do more of my own stuff, no more drifting! Two weeks has flown by.  I can’t wait to see the family now, but it will be the next morning by the time the flight gets back to Sydney.  Two hour flight to Singapore with a 5 hour lay over there.  Then a seven hour flight to Sydney – a few more movies, food and a sleep should make this time fly (ha ha -fly).  I have no photo’s for this day as everything is packed and taking photo’s in airports seems to get security attention these days.  So, I’ve recycled a photo collage of some of my favourite bits of the trip.

Gratitude for today, I’m thankful for the experience of coming to Cambodia, I’m thankful I could maybe make a difference to one of these kids lives, I’m thankful I get to go home where I don’t want for anything (other than selfish desires as every normal person).  And I’m making a new resolution – to try not to be tempted into consumerism.  Only buy what is needed. And in traditional Cambodian style when you say good bye to them, you wish them good luck, so “good luck to you and your family”.

Monk Meeting

Day 129: This is my last full day in Cambodia, as tomorrow morning we head back to the airport to fly home.  After the rice drop yesterday we decide to have a chill day by the pool.  We have a wander into town and decide to stop by the monastery that we pass every day on the tuk tuk.  To our great surprise there is a monk there at the gates.  We’ve read up about monks in the Lonely Planet guide (bible) and have been aware you shouldn’t speak to a monk, especially a woman, unless he addresses you first.  Yes we’ve seen lots of monks over the last two weeks, but this was the first time face to face.  What should we do?  I walk to him and bow as you’re supposed to and he speaks first (phew) and welcomes us to the temple.  I ask him if it’s okay to take his photo and he says yes, almost proudly, adjusting his orange sari -sarong, he beams for us with a bright happy face.  We ask him if we’re allowed to look through the temple and he says yes.  We wander through reverently and soon we are joined by him again.  He is not that old and soon I engage him in conversation again (was it me or did he speak first – oh no I can’t remember).  I find out he is 28 years old and has been a monk for 9 years.  He has just taken an interest in learning English and enjoys practising with the tourists.  His English is very good and we tell him we’ve been volunteer teaching kids English in the village.  This  brings a smile to his face as he wants to practise more of his English with us.  I am chuffed.  Here I am talking with a monk!  We say our goodbyes, bow,  and leave donations of cash in the boxes around the temple.  We head back into town for refreshments before heading back to the pool, feeling very satisfied.  I’ve included the photo manipulation of the monk here.  I’ve been working more on creating photoart.  Tell me what you think?

Our last night in town and we go for something tradition and go to watch the Khmer Traditional Dancers at Temple Bar.  They are very beautiful girls, angelic faces, and the costumes are amazing.  They move with such grace and I don’t know how they bend their hands back like they do.  They make great Amok here too, a traditional Cambodian curry dish, with either chicken or fish.

Rice Drop Day

Day 128:  We have finished teaching at the school, but the remaining three of us go back to assist with the rice distribution to the local village families.  It is here they receive their rations for a month.  There are sponsored families, who receive 50kg bag of rice, spices and oil to cook with.  Then it goes down to other unsponsored families receiving smaller rations of  30kg or 10kg rice bags.  This was an amazing sight.  The families all waited patiently until it was their turn.  These families have no cars and so a lot of people were managing their rice bags on push bikes or motor bike taxi to take it back home. The people were so thankful, bowing and thanking us as they rode home.  To sponsor a family go to New Hope Cambodia link.  You can see where you money goes, direct into food for these people.

New Year School Party

Day 127:  A quick tour this morning of the day markets on the look out for decorations to take to school for the New Year Party.

When we arrive at school, there are tarpolines put up and the chairs from classrooms are all outside.  The kids are dressed up in their best clothes (some of which we have given to them).  They are so excited.  Each class has a turn in front of the school to play a game,  sing or dance.  The local women have been preparing the party food all morning, which is Cambodian curry and bread.  After all the classes have had their turn, it is time to eat.  We hand out bowls of curry and bread to be shared by the kids.  One bowl of curry to every four kids.  We are surprised at their patience, no one eats, until everyone has a bowl of food in their group.  The sight of these kids eating brings tears to your eyes.  They are so hungry and no one is complaining about what “type” of food they are eating (as I hear many times from my own children) they are just thankful to have food.  Most bowls are emptied pretty fast and some are even tipping the food into plastic bags to take home for their families – a very sobering sight.

After the food it is time for dancing and all the kids drag all the teachers up to dance. We have a wonderful time dancing with them all, and some of them can really dance.  There was a bit of hip hop and break dancing happening.  We also learnt a traditional khmer hand dance, which involves you walking around in a circle.   The day is winding down and it’s time to say goodbyes to the kids.  I didn’t think I would become so attached to them, and it truely breaks my heart to say goodbyes.  I’m so sad that I’m leaving them and it doesn’t feel like I’ve done or given enough.  How can two weeks of me being their teacher impact or help change their life.   It feels so miniscule that you waltz in, teach them, but eventually leave them behind and return to your life.

One of the older boys, who we’ve all become attached to, has written us all a note, and hands it out to us individually.  Here is what it said:

May you beautiful be in spring

May you meet spring for always

I wish you good luck

May good luck be always with you

I wish you good health

May I wish you every success

from …………

You very good teacher. I like you so much.

(I’ve kept his identity to myself  – the girls know who he is)

I cry in the tuk tuk all the way back to town, the kids have touched me deeply.

Tonight is our last night, all six girlfriends together.  Three are heading to Vietnam before heading home.  We go out for dinner and celebrate our friendship, our adventure here to Cambodia and the experience of volunteering.

We decide to give this fish bath a try on our way home.  (This isn’t my foot, because I was too busy squealing like a kid. This is my brave friend, you know who you are).  The fish eat the dead skin off your feet.  I didn’t like the feel at all.