Sunday, 6 November 2011

Cambodia Take One - the people of Beng Mealea

Cambodia is the most amazing place I have ever experienced. It was made all the more interesting by having a fascinating story teller of a guide show us the sights, sounds and culture: Bun Lay.
Here he is getting us to tuck into some local cuising (and beer!), in Siem Reap's busy Pub Street.

I was incredibly lucky to get to go on this trip for free, so I wanted to make the most of every second, every experience and taste! I travelled as part of the Teacher Recce group for a longer expedition that takes place next summer, on which we will be joined by pupils from three schools who have all raised £3,450 each for the priveledge! I am sooooo lucky that I get to go both times for free, as a teacher travelling with those kids. The trip has been organised, run, planned and developed by a company called Camps International. Our leader for the recce was Anth, who took very good care of us for the week (and provided much hilarity, although he was far too modest to admit to being so funny).

We will be doing valuable project work within a rural community outside Siem Reap called Beng Mealea.We will be working on a school and other projects within the villages, for example: a new kitchen is needed in the school as the current one is too small and ill equipped to deal with the volume of food required on a daily basis. This is the 'kitchen' at present!

The local kids look so smart in their uniforms, amazing when you think they probably have no running water, electricity or sanitation in their homes.

In the village of Beng Mealea the locals found us just as interesting as we found them. We had this weird 'stand-off', checking eachother out...old and young.

Local housing may look very pretty, but is incredibly basic to say the least. With chickens living under your house and water collected in a large pot from rainfall on the roof.

Some local 'dudes', probably the hotties of the village!

Everyone wanted to say 'hello', in fact they can all say hello, goodbye and a handful of English words. Bun Lay told us all kids learn some English in school.

 The friendly faces asking us for 'candy'...cheeky wotsits!

Children have many chores to complete during their day to help with the running of the home. Most children only go to school for a few hours each day, either in the morning or afternoon as there are not enough school places for everyone to go all day.

 All villages grow produce for their own consumption: banana trees here.

I was so impressed by these people, how welcoming and friendly they were to us as total stranger and weird looking foreigners. It made me think about home, and how hostile things would feel if they came to a village by me and just walked around looking and saying 'Hi'. We may feel like we have a lot of freedoms in England, but I felt a strong sense of it from the people that seemed more real, genuine and more like something that I want to experience. I guess it comes from the fact they they provide for themselves, and can support themselves in their basic standard of living. They don't have cars, Sky TV, or Christmas to worry about....
Does that make them more free? I did also struggle with the question of: should we help them then, if they are happy and self supporting at this level, is it right or wrong to intervene? In the end I decided it is right to help, as in helping we have a mutual relationship, and people like me get to learn these amazing lessons from their ways and culture. The help that we will provide is assistance that is guided my the village elders and chiefs, the school Headteacher, as well as Camps International's own employed locals, like our Camp Manager and local legend: Han.

There are many more photo sets to come. Love me x


  1. I was just reading your outfit post and this was recommended as You Might Also Like, and oh my goodness! I do like, rather a lot. What a fabulous trip! Some of the people at my school got the chance to go to Namibia, and I was jealous that I didn't get to go! I'd love to have the chance to experience a culture so different to my own! -am off to quietly read your other Cambodia posts- Axx

    1. Ah so you found the Cambodia blogs...
      It was only one week but seriously changed my life. I am so lucky to be going back for 4 delicious weeks in the summer. Can-not-wait! Obviously I will be posting you something nice from there too :) x N x


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