Ivanhoe Grammar School Cambodia Service Project 2023 – Day Eleven Students’ Reflections
To continue from Day Ten Reflection blogging of the Ivanhoe Grammar School Cambodia Service Project 2023, this article reposting the reflections from the assigned students on their Day ELEVEN experiences and impressions:
Day 11, Team 1
Team One’s day was adventurous to say the least. With an early start of leaving the hotel at 7am for the long day of cycling ahead. The aim for the day was to cycle around to see three temples (Bayon temple, Ta prohm temple and Angkor Wat ) within a total of 25km bike journey.
The first section made up 15km bike ride to Bayon temple complex, the trail was occasionally bordering on mountain biking but it added to the experience surrounding the country side we cycled along. We saw many fields, dogs and cows throughout. When we arrived we were all taken back by the amazing scenery.
All the temples we saw were built around the 12th century, and then in the 16th century were abandoned. Until the 1800s when slowly these temples were discovered again through the jungle by the French at the time.
The next part of our journey was a 5km ride; with a couple times we got lost but all managed to end up at the hidden Ta Prohm temple. This temple consisted of trees growing inside the walls of it with tree roots taking up many of the remaining structure. A fun fact we found out was that this temple was used in Tomb Raider 2001 movie. We then headed back on our bikes for 4km and inbetween a quick stop for lunch, then eventually made it to Angkor Wat. We took the tour slightly backwards by starting at the back of the temple and making our way through the front. We ventured up many flights of stairs to the top level of 65m high. It was definitely interesting to question what would have happened if we never had uncovered these temples ? Would nature continued to take over ?!
Ultimately the day ended with us feeling a little sore, but it’s somewhere I would most definitely like to visit again !!
Day 11, Team 2. Bike tour of Bayon temple, Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat
Following on from the exciting soccer match yesterday, today was filled with even more joy; riding bikes through the jungle, a village lunch and learning about the temples and knowledge they hold, including Angkor Wat. It was incredibly special to be able to see these historical monuments so close, cycling around and through some temples and then finally setting foot in Angkor Wat. Our tour guide added even more enthusiasm to the experience, giving our group lots of valuable knowledge including the varying religions in each temple and how that has influenced the design and intricate details over time. Overall it was an excellent day, finishing off with a relaxed dinner in the hotel that everyone appreciated.
Today was one of the days I was most looking forward to because of the bike ride and temple tour. Leaving bright and early at 7am, our tour guide got us excited for the day ahead. We all hopped on a bike and rode to the first temple. Although everyone was hot and tired, it was hard not to enjoy and admire the intricate story told through each individual stone carving and imagine those who carved them almost one thousand years before. Then getting back on the bikes we rode to the Ta Prong temple which had giant trees growing out of nearly every rooftop. The highlight was a large tree that was overtaken by a parasite tree hundreds of years before and displayed a unique entanglement of roots and branches that were truly amazing. After a nice lunch we biked the final stretch to Angkor Wat. The giant temple bared no uncarved stone and the carvings told a incredible story of the people who built the temple by hand. The day was a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget.
One word for today is ‘sweat’. We rode around Angkor, touring the different locations, including Angkor Wat, one of the seven wonders of the world. We started off strong with breakfast at 6.30am with many people still feeling sick, me included. We caught a bus to get our picture taken for our tour pass; however, the photos showed us chinless with square faces, but they got many laughs. I personally think our tour guide (Wanee) was the reason all of us got through the day. From his animated laugh and infectious enthusiasm to the compass tattoo on his hand and strip of writing behind the ear, all of us loved him. He guided us with great knowledge through the day despite many complaints about the heat. As we made our way finally to Angkor Wat, I can say that all of us were shocked at the sheer size and grandeur of the temple. This experience has introduced us to Cambodia’s ancient history and I personally feel so honoured to have learned about this rich and beautiful culture.
Team Three Monday 26th Alana and Gus
After a well earnt sleep in this morning after a big day yesterday at the soccer tournament, we all joined to indulge in our delicious buffet breakfast this morning at around 8am. The favourites from this morning’s breakfast were the mango, fried rice, and the various pastries that we could choose from. Then at 9am, we all gathered in the foyer, ready to board the bus and head off to the Tonle Sap Floating Villages in Siem Reap.
On the bus we listened to our tour guide, Sudai, who gave us a brief history of the floating villages, and a general gist of the way of life of the people that live there. Upon arrival, we boarded the river boat and took our seats, ready for our adventure. We were pleasantly treated with massages courtesy of our new friends who live on the floating villages. As the village came into sight, we were greeted with the amazing sight of dozens of floating houses, shops, and other residencies, that opened our eyes to a completely unique way of living, different to both the village life and city life that we had already been accustomed to.
In the heart of the village, we stopped off at a floating market and were greeted with a pleasant but shocking surprise; within the decking of the platform lay a pit of at least 10 crocodiles who at first, we thought were statues, but after a minute we soon came to realise that they were in fact real! Similarly, to our very own markets near the hotel, many of use took the chance to barter with the store owners in hopes of purchasing one of the many delicacies, such as the paintings, clothing, crocodile hide and many other unique souvenirs. Many of us also took the chance to indulge in a fresh coconut or a soft drink to quench our thirsts, and on the way out, we had lots of fun feeding the catfish.
On the way home, we embraced the opportunity to sit on the roof of the boat and had the time of our lives. The view was amazing from above, and we can be sure that Foxy took some amazing photos of us! Upon returning, we took a short bus ride to a quaint restaurant suspended over the water, where we enjoyed a meal of fish, chicken, vegie soup, and of course our favourite, rice. Then we hopped back on the bus to see the Angkor Artisans workshop, where we learnt about and took part in the process of carving traditional wooden and stone Cambodian artifacts, and after, were able to shop for souvenirs at the gift shop. One of the highlights was being able to try carving our names into the stone. Although it was extremely difficult, some of us got lucky and excelled by being able to carve more than just one letter down.
Although many of us were tired, our love for the markets enticed us to go on another adventure after arriving back at the hotel. Many of us had successful purchases, and special shout out to Señor Galvez for allowing us to develop our batering skills through watching and learning from his expertise. Lots of us took the time once we got home to sit back and relax at the pool or to have a nap, ready for our eat-in dinner at the hotel. To say the least, we knew we were eating well after indulging in the most popular drink of the night – the Mango Caramel smoothie of which at least half of us ordered, and after the delicious four course meal, we were fully satisfied and ready to have an early night before an early wake up tomorrow morning.
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