For the past two and a half weeks we have been based in Cambodia. We left the busy streets of Bangkok in the early hours to catch a 7 hour train ride and a 15 minute tuk tuk ride to the Thailand and Cambodian border. Once we passed the border we caught a share taxi to Siem Reap with two guys, one from Czech Republic and the other from England, who we became good friends with. We instantly fell in love with Cambodia. We could see the blue sky! In Bangkok we could never see the sky. It was just smog. We hired bicycles on our second day and every time we passed a Cambodian they would always smile, they are such lovey people! After 3 days of getting our bearings around Siem Reap we set off to the country side where we would call home for the next 3 weeks.
One of the reasons we came to Cambodia was to volunteer at place called C.E.S.H.E.O (Cambodia English School of Higher Education NGO). A place where people all over the world come to teach English to students ranging from 2 – 25 years old. We both knew what we were in for in terms of living but I don’t think we prepared ourselves enough haha. The place that we stay at is a two story house, which is owned by the founder of C.E.S.H.E.O. Down stairs is the private rooms and upstairs is the dorm room where up to 15 people can stay. We had booked the dorm, and I wish you could have seen the expressions on our faces when we were shown “the dorm”. Thin mattresses on the ground with a mosquito net, spider webs everywhere, geckos crawling on the walls and it is ridiculously hot up there. I would compare it to an attic. I was really excited to be honest, Eb though.… haha. But we were willing to stick it out, with the sole purpose of teaching the kids.
First day of school was awesome. Eb and I were pretty fortunate to have this class. We have about 15 – 25 kids that range from 2 – 14 years old. Some of the other CESHEO schools have only 4 or 5 students. They are the best kids! Their smiles are the best thing about them. They are always so happy. A log book is used by the volunteers to record what each teacher has previously taught the class. For the first week we had been revising what the teacher before us taught them which were clothes in the mornings, and in the afternoon we would teach them pronunciation and then we’d play games with them. They struggle a lot with pronouncing their words. We have 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon with them.
In the evenings we have shower which is in this tiny cubicle with the toilet also. When we shower there’s geckos and frogs that are in the cubicle with you which is uncomfortable but quite funny because you have these things watching you shower! Getting to sleep is close to impossible! You have geckos that make this really loud noise like frogs, neighbours that play loud music till the early morning, dogs that howl and bark (it sounds like a million dogs barking), and if you’re lucky, around 3:00am you’ll hear a recording of a prayer that goes on almost all day. It’s awesome…
At the moment C.E.S.H.E.O have about 22 volunteers and 10 or so staff members that help with the volunteers rides to and from school, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and general maintenance. We are having a great time here but we feel very fortunate and grateful to have hot showers, comfy beds, education, health, internet and to be brought up in a country where we have FRESH tap water (don’t ever buy water back in Australia, why pay for water when it’s already fresh in your household!). We have one more week here in Siem Reap then we head to Phnom Penh and Koh Rong for a couple of days. Then on to Vietnam! We’ll keep you posted when we can!