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The Goodheart and Whitecorn Adventures "I see my path, but I don't know where it leads. Not knowing where I'm going is what inspires me to travel it." Rosalia de Castro

Goodbye Cambodia....

CAMBODIA | Monday, 23 February 2015 | Views [356]

It’s hard to believe our time in Cambodia is almost over. We’ve spent close to a full month here and the days have really flown by. We are off to Vietnam tomorrow by way of Ha Tien and will begin our Vietnam adventure on Phu Quoc island.

 

When we last left off I believe we were about to leave Battambang. We took one of the worst bus rides we’ve ever had back to Siem Reap and stayed one night at a really awesome guesthouse (I wish we’d know about it before!) before getting picked up by a tuk tuk and transported out of the city 17 km to a remote village and plopped down in front of a school. And so it began. We started the week with 4 other new volunteers. The school sits on the property of the founder and his family- 2 sisters and 1 brother. One of his sisters was our chef the entire stay (and it was AMAZING) and the other sister housed us. We had a real homestay experience, which was fantastic!! While the squat toilets I could do without (call me spoiled) we both got used to the bucket showers pretty quickly and were walking and biking around barefoot in no time. The teaching experience was fun, and yes! Goodheart taught! There are actually 2 different school buildings where we volunteered and the one we taught at was about 3km from where we were staying so we biked every day. Classes started at 3pm and we finished around 8:30pm. Whitecorn had 3 different levels of classes and was teacher for 1 of those levels, co-teacher for 1 (2 classes total) and assistant of sorts for the other. Goodheart was assistant for all 3 levels and in 4 classes as well. Each class was an hour long. After school we would put on our headlamps and bike back from “work” in the dark. That was a fun experience in itself! We stayed 4 full days and left on Friday morning to catch a bus to Kampong Cham.

 

Kampong Cham was a bit of a sleepy little town situated on the Mekong River. We rented bikes one day and went exploring. There is a large island in the river called Koh Spean. In the dry season it is accessible by bamboo bridge only. This bridge has to be rebuilt every year because the rainy season washes it away. I have to say, that was not only some of the most difficult biking I’ve done, it was also some of the most terrifying. While I know bamboo is one of the strongest plants in the world that doesn’t stop the nerves when it starts crackling and rustling! Plus the motos zipping past you… The island is nice with lots of farms and quite a decent sized population. We had plans for going to a couple temples as well but the heat got the best of us and we decided to lay low instead.

 

After Kampong Cham we made our way up to the Mondulkiri Province and the town of Sen Monorom for what I would consider the highlight of Cambodia- the Elephant Valley Project. This is a really cool organization that everyone should check out: http://www.elephantvalleyproject.org

We were there for 3 days and 2 nights. Not only did we get tons of quality elephant time, we met some truly awesome people and did volunteer work that made us feel good and sore at the end of the day. We loved it! Now, if you don’t feel like going to their website at the moment I will tell you the EVP basically helps overworked (and often mistreated) elephants learn how to be elephants again. I have never been overly interested in elephants, but they are actually super cool animals. They each have distinct personalities and are so sweet. I think I can safely say that the best part for both of us was the vet checks. We got to go out and help check the elephants’ health and do weight checks. That gave us real hands-on experience with the eles and was made all the more hilarious by having to chase them around in order to do so. I’m thinking Whitecorn needs a vet degree now, yes?

 

We semi-reluctantly said goodbye to the eles and Sen Monorom and headed down to Kampot, which is where I write from now.  Kampot sits on the Kampot river and has a very relaxed feel. Naturally now that we’re leaving it feels like we could spend a good week here just…being. We unfortunately arrived during Chinese New Year, which as it turns out is a VERY busy time in Cambodia. Although many Khmer people are not Chinese by heritage they still get time off from work and school. Prices are hiked up at accommodations and it was almost impossible to get transportation anywhere. Lucky us. But we haven’t had too much trouble otherwise. We took a tour to Bokor, which is unfortunately pretty much done. It used to be a really cool spooky ghost town but some developer has started to turn it into a resort and there is now a massive hotel and casino on top of the mountain. Pretty sad really. We also took a sunset boat ride on the river with 3 other people from our tour which was really nice. Super quiet and peaceful. We saw all the fishermen heading out to the sea for night fishing. The next day we took a tour to Kep and on the way saw salt fields, a cave temple, a “secret” lake and a pepper plantation. The plantation was my favorite part of the day. I had no idea that’s what pepper plants looked like! We learned all about how pepper works, which is pretty interesting, and tasted some peppercorns right off the vine…SPICY! Kep, apart from the food, was very disappointing. I’m sure at other times it is very nice, but because of the aforementioned holiday it was extremely crowded. Neither of us wanted to stay at the beach and if you know us you know that is totally unlike us. Despite that it was still a nice day overall. Today we relaxed and tried to get a few things done that we’ve been meaning to do. We took a break in the afternoon and went to the movies. Yup, the movies. It was actually really fun. This noodle/dumpling place has a theater and private screening rooms where you can watch either the movie they are showing in their 35 seat theater ($2.50) or choose your own movie and pay $3.50/person (20% off on Sunday!) for your own screening room. And you can eat their great food while watching. The room was fitted with a 51” plasma screen and a platform with pillows and cushions. It felt like we were hanging out at home! If we could fit such a big TV in our home, but you know what I mean.

 

As much as I have loved Cambodia, it’s definitely time to move on and we are excited for the new country ahead! (and I’m excited for Pho) We miss and love you all.

W&G

Tags: cambodia

 

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