We have had the warmest introduction to Cambodia over the last week, both figuratively and literally. The people here are so peaceful and friendly, and the hottest weather we have had yet. During the last week, we have had the great privilege of becoming more involved with the Cambodian community through multiple service projects. We began our Cambodia experience at a lovely couple’s and long time friends of Pacific Discovery, Supen and Mach’s, beautiful home stay. While there, we split up into groups to construct a toilet one day while the other group taught English to the an afterschool program called Hope for Happiness. The toilet construction turned out to be quite rewarding, even if I wasn’t the most useful builder. We got to play with the family’s kids and managed to communicate with them with the help of cameras, creative motions, and bursts of laughter. The after school program turned out to be just a continuation of these laughter and games, but with much easier conversation since most of the teenage students had been taught very well. It was great to exchange stories and engage in fluent conversation with local teens. Mach and Supen also gave us some in depth lessons over their vivid Khmer Rouge experiences that took place only 30 short years ago…quite chilling.
Monthly Archives: March 2013
Our next destination led us to Rabbit Island off the coast of Kep, Cambodia, where we spent a movie-esk afternoon basking in the rays on a gorgeous white sand beach and soaking in the warmest ocean water I have ever experienced! Not spending too long in the sun, we reached our camp-style river bungalows in Kampot that night. Picture summer camp on a huge river, altogether with docks, kayaks, slides, and volleyball court, and you will have a pretty accurate idea of this place. Naturally, we spent some time reliving our camp days swimming in the river, stargazing, and playing some competitive ping pong, but all play was short lived as we were put back to “work” for the next few days helping teach English to a local school and build an entire thatched-roof hut for a struggling community member. It’s amazing what a lil bit of sweat and hard work can do for your spirit when doing it for another.
Time moves so fast. We have been in Vietnam nearly a week now, and I feel like a month of adventure has passed. Directly after we flew into Hanoi, we took an overnight train up to Sa Pa, which is really close to the Chinese border. We were in awe at the striking mountain formations jutting out of the valleys and layers upon layers of rice fields built into the steep sides. We spent a foggy few days hiking through these beautiful mountains and staying at a charming little home that reminded me more of a private bed and breakfast than homestay with their amazing meals and accommodations. Our hilarious little women guides Sue and Mai shoes us around the village one day, giving us a thorough overview of the history and cultural background of the integrated minorities throughout the village.
After our quick trip north, we backtracked by train through Hanoi and took a bus to Halong Bay. I did not have much of an idea of what to expect here, but words cannot begin to express the beauty of this place. More so, for our house boat I was picturing a tiny wooden thing that would basically fit us to sleep and eat in the same space, but man was I wrong again. We had a fantastic little antique ship that looked broken down from the outside, but had a classical restored inside with separate bedrooms, a magnificent dining room, and even a roof to lounge on in our free time! We spent three memorable days eating fresh exquisite seafood meals, exploring caves and beaches, swimming, jumping from the boat, and learning about the intriguing history of this enchanting place. what an incredible few day with one hilarious crew that we got to bond and dance party with the last night we were there!