The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own. [ or hers :) ] ~Benjamin Disraeli ~

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

College Outing

On Saturday, to celebrate their Graduation, trainees went on a day trip to Siem Reap, a tourist resort I was about to experience in a way no tourist can. Three coaches left the college at 6.00am after baguettes for everyone. At 8.00 we stopped for breakfast, I passed on this and went for a walk round a market with some of the girls. Back on the road again, we left the busy main road and I was struck by the beauty of narrower lanes lined with banana and palm trees.

Our first stop was Kbal Spean an uphill walk, some of it a bit of a scramble, through beautiful scenery in the company of so many colourful butterflies with the sound of monkeys chattering in the trees. This was my second time to visit and I was glad that the first time we had a guide to explain the significance as this time trainees were too excited to take much notice.

At the top is a natural bridge over the river and a waterfall that will be at its best in a month or two after the rains. Carved into the rocks are images of Vishnu, Shiva and various animals – a beautiful spot for a picnic.
I was amazed by the food that materialised. Trainees formed groups and sat with containers of rice, fish, meat and veg. Some had carried cool boxes with water and beer. Ung Towrett, the Technical Director made a point of looking after me throughout the day and ensured that I had plenty to eat.

On the way down we walked by the river where those little fish that nibble your feet swim freely. It was all very relaxing and a good opportunity to practice khmer.

Next stop was Angkor Wat, my first visit to the famous temple with its impressive moat. The son of one of our tutors was assigned to be my guide as he speaks some English and has visited several times before. He did a great job pointing out special Apsaras (carvings of goddesses) and explaining what he could remember about the architecture. The heat of the afternoon was not the best time to be climbing steps and exploring but trainees were so happy and excited that I felt honoured to be sharing the experience with them.

Before heading back, it was planned that everyone would cool off with a swim in a lake but as we arrived thunder and lightning started and the heavens opened so unfortunately we missed that. It didn't kill the spirits of our trainees, they had more fun planned. Karaoke and dancing on the coach. Only one stop on the way back – at a village where they make cakes. Everyone bought big bags of the sweet, biscuit-like delicacies to take home.

 Exhausted yet exhilarated by the day, I was able to join other volunteers for a drink in the evening as Alison was having her leaving party. It felt good to be able to talk in English!

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