Apologies for being so slack updating my blog lately. It’s been a busy couple of weeks so I may as well start at the beginning…
On April 17 I headed out to Mondulkiri province with KYSD. This was other of those ‘interesting experiences’ which there seems to be a lot of lately. So before sunrise on Thursday around 17 of us got into a Ute and drove for at least 14 hours, half of that being down a horrible ‘road’ which was really an ox cart path. In case this wasn’t bad enough we were driving down sections of road that were between mine fields full of unexploded ordinance left over from the US bombing. We finally arrived in Toul, a tiny village in the middle of no where with no electricity, running water, phone coverage or toilets. We spent 5 days in the village doing much the same as we had done in Kampong Chhnang. We met with the youth club, interviewed villagers, went hiking and put on an educational role play for the village. The forest surrounding the village was really beautiful and is also facing huge threats around deforestation. One of the more interesting things about the trip was a visit to a neighbouring village Preah Miah. A Chinese mining company has recently moved into the area and opened another gold mine right in the middle of the village. They are paying locals $2.50 a day to work 11 hours at a time down in these mines that regularly collapse killing many. Many of the villagers from Toul have been forced to work here because the rubber trees, which they rely on for income, are being cut down. There are some serious problems out in this province. I admit it was a difficult trip this time and I was glad to get back to Phnom Penh to meet up with mum who’s out here for two months volunteering with the Children’s Surgical Centre (CSC).
Loading up 'the beast' with supplies
Lunch stop kitchen near Snoul
Sieving the rice in the village
Workshop in the forest
Preah Miah village
Children in Toul village
On ANZAC day my Aunt Sandra come to Phnom Penh to visit for the weekend. Mum and I went to the Dawn Service at the Australian Ambassador's Residence before meeting her at the airport. We stood in this beautiful garden, holding candles in the humidity of Phnom Penh really appreciating what it means to be Australian.
Dawn Service in the 5am humidity of Phnom Penh
After the service we took a tuk tuk out to the airport and had Diary Queen for breakfast while waiting for the plane to land. This is a rarity and the only one in the country...ahh memories of the States. It was great to see a familiar face from home. We had a great weekend and kept ourselves busy with trips to the Russian Market, National Museum, Royal Palace and Wat Phnom which I haven’t been back to since we were here in 2005.
Diary Queen at Phnom Penh International Airport
Murals at the Royal Palace
Last weekend mum and I went up to Siem Reap for a long weekend. We stayed in a great place near the Old Market and spent most of the time checking out as many temples as humanly possible, shopping in town and making the most of relaxing by the pool. We saw plenty more temples we hadn’t seen on our last trip along with the favs – Ta Phrom, Bayon and Angkor Wat. We also took a trip out to the Ruolos temples which was well worth it. Make sure you check out season 13 of the Amazing Race. We were at Angkor Wat on Sunday and found the clue box! They were filming for hours and we spent half the time stalking the contestants looking for the next clue, it was hilarious! I’m sure they’ll be spending plenty of time editing us out of the background.
Crickets in Skoun, on the road to Siem Reap
Sunset over the Tonle Sap
Angkor Wat and the clue box
Angkor Association for the Disabled
'Bucket' of margaritas for $5
Now I’m back in the office…but not for long I have next week off so we are thinking about going down south for a couple days. I’m feeling the need to get away at every opportunity right now.