AndrewJones' Travel Journals

AndrewJones

  • From United Kingdom
  • Currently in Cambodia

Living & Volunteering in Siem Reap

I gave up my job at the end of March 2015 and in a few weeks time I'm Cambodia bound, volunteering for 12 weeks for a community project in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Either I've taken leave of my senses or I'm following a path to...er....enlightenment? Or somewhere between the two? This journal is about my trip

Volunteering in Siem Reap

Cambodia Siem Reap, Cambodia  |  Aug 01, 2015
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 I now have a newer bicycle - with 3 gears! 

It's about a month since I last wrote a journal entry and since then I've settled into a routine during the week of rising at about 6.45am (well, make that 6.50am creeping towards 7am) and then leaving my hotel at about 8.10am to cycle across Siem Reap so that I arrive at Salariin Kampuchea, the school where I'm volunteering, for 8.30am.

And I have waved goodbye to my old bicycle, which I did have a soft spot for but it did have a habit of letting me down on a regular basis - punctures, chain coming loose, that kind of thing. Nothing that couldn't be fixed, and I am now on very friendly terms with the bicycle repair guy just down the road from the school. In fact, I'm on first name terms not only with Meantrey, but also his father in law Kuerun and their friend Saran. We've had a few beers together and they have been kind enough to invite me for a meal.

So in some ways I'm sort of hoping my new(er) bicycle won't be too reliable..............

There's excitement in the air at the moment at the school because next Thursday is the final of the Spelling Bee competition, when selected students from each class represent their classes to compete to become the school's top word spellers and general all-round English students. I'm picking up on the excitement myself!

And everyone has been helping out to put together and fit a bamboo interwoven suspended ceiling for one of the classrooms. Most of the hard work was done by the older students and Puth, who is the school's assistant English teacher. I just made sure I looked like I knew what I was doing. Except I don't think I was very convincing, especially when it came to hammering a nail into my finger.

Next week we also say goodbye to my fellow volunteer Marianna from Australia, who has been doing teacher training at the school, and the staff had a goodbye meal for her at the Peace Cafe (a cool looking venue) in Siem Reap on Friday.

And the director Ravy and I are in regular correspondence (plus meetings every few weeks) with the school's fundraising consultant David, one of my role's being to submit funding bids and assist Ravy in order to try and put the school on a more sustainable footing when it comes to future funding. We've also got plans to overhaul the monitoring, evaluation and reporting processes.

Ravy and I had a very short deadline for submitting one funding bid, which went to the eleventh hour and involved a hurried meeting in a petrol station shop/kiosk to sort out a recurring IT problem. It really would take too long to explain just how and why that came about......................

I now know Siem Reap pretty well, including the cafes, bars and restaurants. It's very much geared up to tourism, principally because of the Angkor Wat Temples, which really are epic in their splendour, but in my humble opinion they have competition in the form of the Phare, which is the Cambodian Circus. There are shows each evening in Siem Reap starting at 8pm and they are amazing! Don't imagine a conventional circus with animals and all that. There's none of that. Except for a big tent. The Phare is all about performance art with a story behind the acrobatics, juggling and gymnastics, a story with a social message. And my understanding is that many of the young and talented performers have troubled and moving personal stories, having come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

That's about it for now. I'm hoping that I've uploaded a few photos, including some of butterflies from the Banteay Srei Butterfly Centre, plus Angkor Wat and Siem Reap.

A bientot mes amis!

Andrew

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