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.
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.