To continue from Day THREE Reflection blogging of the Ivanhoe Grammar School Cambodia Service Project 2023, this article reposting the reflections from the assigned students on their Day FOUR experience and impressions:
Day 4 Team 1 – Natalia and Rosa
Today we travelled all day. We left at about 8 for a 6.5 hour bus ride across Cambodia to Siem Reap. Along the way, we made various stops where we were able to gain a better understanding of Cambodian culture. For example, we stopped at a silversmith where we had the opportunity to watch the craftsmen moulding and creating silver pieces and many of us were lucky enough to purchase a souvenir. The second stop was a small fruit market but it was not just a regular fruit market. The instant we stepped off the bus there were large spiders placed on us causing excitement but fear in some. Personally I was terrified but it was so interesting to see everyone eating fried spider or cricket. Lastly, we made a quick stop at a restaurant on the river for lunch where we were able to catch up with members of other teams before arriving in Siem Reap. Overall, the bus ride went by very quickly as we enjoyed the stops but also were fascinated by the countryside and rural areas and townships which we passed. It offered a great insight into Cambodian culture outside of the major cities which we will explore further in the village.
Compared to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap is a more green, touristy city with less high rises and traffic.
Day 4, Team 2. Travel day to Siem Reap.
After we left our hotel in Phnom Penh at around 8am, we met our new guide, Veasna Sum, who accompanied us on the bus ride to Siem Reap. The six hour journey began with Veasna telling us his life story including his experience with the Khmer Rouge. Veasna told us how the Khmer Rouge took his father away when he was a child to never be seen again. There was not a dry eye on the bus. His story was truely confronting and it made the atrocities we learnt about yesterday, during our trip to S21 and the Killing Fields tangible. Veasna’s story was easily the most impactful experience for me on this trip since it was so up close and personal and highlighted the true evil that must have possesed people during the Cambodian genocide.
About three hours into our journey to Siem Reap from Phnom Pehn, we were confronted with the infamous spiders, crickets and crunchy bugs that we heard so fondly of before coming on this trip. As soon as we came off the bus, we were greeted by live (defanged) tarantulas placed on our arms and backs triggering a few screams, and then we were sent off to eat the forbidden protein. The bugs were very enjoyable with a scary crunch and a few unfamiliar aftertastes, washed down with some sugar cane juice and local fruit.
UPDATE: the morning after eating insects was not an enjoyable experience for team 2.
To start our long journey of the day, we began with a lengthy six-and-a-half hour bus trip from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. Along the way were some notable stops, such as the silver jewellers, spider and bug markets as well as lunch at the river inside the floating huts. To pass the time, our group played games, chatted, slept, blasted music and slept some more. Looking out the window, I noticed that no matter where we were, Cambodia still offered an array of markets, buildings, farms and rich culture. Never have I seen such a continous stream and mix of vegetation and people this long. So far, I have deeply enjoyed my time in Cambodia and it has only been 4 days.
Team 3 Monday June 19th by Sarah and Georgia
After the strenuous night of thoroughly packing the night before, we enjoyed a peaceful morning as we deported from Phnom Penh with no stress. The 6.5-hour bus ride for some seemed both dull and never ending, and for others was an opportunity to catch up on some much-needed rest for the tiring past few days.
As we got on the bus, we felt bittersweet about leaving as we had many new friends, yet still excited for our journey ahead. The many new friends, memories, and experiences we made in Phnom Penh will forever be cherished as we hold them dear to our heart.
On the first stop during the bus trip, we stopped at a silver market where we were given the opportunity to buy silver trinkets, jewellery and more. At the market, we bought elephant bracelets, and others were able to buy cat figurines (Mrs. Patterson).
Following this stop, we spent another hour or so on the bus before we stopped at a small shopping area. It was at this stop where we could hold tarantulas. Some students were game to hold the tarantulas enjoying the way the small creatures crawled along our bodies, while others screamed in fear, jumping at the mere thought of them. This stop also had two restaurants where we bought some drinks and other little snacks.
After a quick stop for lunch and a few more hours of driving, we reached our destination of Siem Reap. Although the process was long and gruelling, we finally checked in. On the way to dinner, we used Took-Tooks to arrive at the restaurant, where we enjoyed many popular local dishes.
Although the day initially did not appear as interesting as others we had, it was stilled filled with lots of fun. We made many interesting memories in Phnom Penh, and we are excited for the new ones to come in Siem Reap.
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