'For Adventures of a lifetime'

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

We'll be coming round the mountain...

30th July After waking up early to the sound of the rain hammering on the metal roofs we gathered downstairs to have rice soup, bringing back memories of breakfasts at Makak. Once we all piled onto the mini-buses we headed to Mae sot waiting to see the chaos the flood had caused. When we arrived the devastation seemed like nothing just a few puddles! We all huddled in the bus station while we met Mr. Omph, our trek provider. After stopping for lunch at numerous 7 11, we started our climb up the mountain in tuk-tuk trucks. After several hours of riding the winding, bumpy roads we had a break much to the joy of the people suffering from car sickness and gave the chance to stretch our legs before another two hours in the truck. Once we arrived in Umphang we made ourselves at home in our wooden cabins and introduced ourselves to all the creepy crawlies also staying the night with us. After making ourselves at home, we gathered round a table outside out wooden huts to talk about our trek. We discussed where we would be trekking, where we will camp and what we should bring that would last us the whole duration of the trek. We each made a note of what to pack; such as three pairs of underwear, a wet set of clothes and a dry set of clothes. Later that evening we came together for dinner around a large wooden table as our host prepared our three course meal. The meal consisted of a chicken broth, followed by rice with chicken and vegetables, and ended with watermelon. We all thoroughly enjoyed the meal and were glad to say that we were very full by the end of it. Around the table there were a mixture of smells; ranging from the river smell to the chilly sauce that was provided at diner. Even though we had a full belly, we each helped ourselves to either a cup of Yellow Label Tea or a cup of hot chocolate which smelt very sweet. Mr Omph brought out a big map painted on wood to show us exactly where we would be going. He showed us there we would start out trek by being on boats going down the speedy river. After being shown the map, we each headed back to our rooms to start packing and to get ready for bed. There was the calming noise of the river flowing and the occasional sound of a cricket chirping outside as we rested our heads on the pillows to get a good night’s sleep. Hattie Shaw

Homeless in Thailand

29th July After another early 6am start, we were picked up by minibuses to take us to the main bus station in Bangkok, which looked more like an airport rather than a bus station. Food managers, Susie and Beth, bought us all croissants and biscuits the night before so we all tucked into these on the bus. We then all piled on the main bus to take us to Mae Sot which was meant to take us around 8 hours. Some people read their books whilst others tried to sleep most of the way. The bus stopped a few times for us to buy snacks and go to the loo so instead of having lunch, most of us just snacked all the way on cereal and biscuits. Cliff got a phone call from Sawang, our in country agent, telling us that it was unsafe for us to go to Mae Sot as our accommodation was completely flooded. He told us to get off at Tak, 80km before we would reach Mae Sot. The bus driver dropped us all off at the bus station in Tak, leaving us stranded with no accommodation for the next 3 hours. Trying to ask the local people where any guesthouses were was an impossible task. Some people stayed lying on top of all our bags whilst small parties went out to search for places to stay. Miss Wentworth spoke to a local woman who owned a hotel. They wanted our business so they gave us quite a discount, although it was still quite over budget. At this point we didn’t have many choices of places to stay and we didn’t want to have to camp in the bus station so decided to go with the hotel. The hotel picked us all up in a truck. One truck had all of us in and the other had all of our bags. When we arrived at the hotel spirits rised as this hotel seemed amazing compared to the last place we stayed at. Once we had all had showers and seen our rooms, we met in the lobby and the hotel manager took us all out to a restaurant. We had different traditional dishes which we shared between all of us. These included rice, a spicy chicken curry and some sort of pork soup with seaweed. We then all had banana pancakes afterwards which we all thought were amazing! (Ed.Often a crisis turns in our favour....'Fortune follows the brave...' Maddie Barr

Monday, 29 July 2013

Lost in Bangkok

28th July Wake up was at a reasonable time of 7am as we needed to finish packing have breakfast and be ready to be picked up from the River Raft Guesthouse at 9 am. The buses were on time ready to take us on our 2 hour journey back to Bangkok. Following the uneventful journey, there was much confusion when we arrived, as we were meant to be staying in the Merry V Guesthouse however there were two Merry V Guesthouses the old one and the new one. So after spending ½ an hour in one, we soon realised we had booked into the other. (Ed. these things are sent to try us :-)) We had a group meeting and decided that as it was almost lunch time people could go off and get lunch and have free time for the rest of the afternoon and we would then re group at 5 for another meeting. Everyone went their separate ways for lunch some finding street food, others really widening their tastes with MacDonalds (Ed. Arh good old traditional World Challenge food). We all then spent the rest of the afternoon shopping on the Kohsan Road, many items of clothing were purchased to replace old smelly ones. It would be thought that 5 hours of shopping is too much and we would all get bored but no, time flew by as there was such a lot to look at and soon enough it was time to meet again back at the hostel for our meeting. All 14 girls were ready and waiting in the lobby but no Cliff or teachers, 5:15 came and went ... so did 5:30. (After previously being asked to be on time to meetings we knew they weren’t doing it on purpose.) We left notes under their door saying when we were meeting for dinner and all went to shower. Eventually they arrived back, with 14 curious faces all wanting a decent excuse or explanation, which fortunately they did have! The staff had been on a boat trip after a visit to the grand palace, and had gone to get on the boat at 4, after asking 3 people and everyone confirming it was the boat to the pier opposite the hostel they got on. However as the boat left the dock it went further away from where they wanted to go so got off at the next stop possible and got a taxi back. (Ed. it was an epic journey folks lol) We all met again at 7 for dinner and walked around to find a restaurant which ended up being the same place as last time we were in Bangkok. Many people had western food for dinner as they knew this wasn’t going to be possible while on trek. Following our final meeting of the day we all went to our rooms to pack our bags...we are slowly becoming experts at this skill :-). We are all looking forward to the next phase of our trip and continue with our ‘Adventure of a lifetime’. Jaime Urquhart

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Fools in the Pools

27th July

Today was our second ‘acclimatisation trek’ at the Erawan national park. The park consisted of 7 waterfalls, which were different levels ascending up the mountain. Before we went to the waterfalls we had to make a stop off at a phone shop to buy a new phone which worked in Thailand. The shop keeper seemed surprised that we wanted the cheapest phone he had and that we didn’t mind it being a brick with only black and white (Ed. Oh how I miss those days!). After a little bit of confusion as the shop keeper was trying to make conversation about the birth of the royal baby and us taking a couple of minutes to try and understand what he was trying to say, we made a successful purchase and we made our way to the waterfalls in the taxis.

We began the trek at 11 and began our trip up the slippery slopes surrounded by jungle canopy. We made it to the top by 1 after some steep slopes and steps and stopped for a well deserved lunch break of jam and honey sandwiches, crisps and apples. Then we went for a dip in the first pool when we soon realised that we were not alone in the pool but we were sharing with lots of fish, who every few seconds would nibble on our legs which would be followed by a squeal and lots of splashing to try and scare away the fish, (especially from Gini;)) (Ed. C’mon girls they were ‘man eaters’ after all ;-)). After drying off and lacing our boots back on we started back down the slopes with a little more energy from the lunch but a little more nervous due to the slanting slippery wooden steps and rocks down. But there was no need to worry as Cliff guided us down the mountain and we all, I’m glad to say made it safely down.

On the way down we stopped off at two of the other waterfalls and pools where we jumped off the rocks into the pools and down natural slides in the rocks, which we all enjoyed thoroughly and agreed it was one of the best days so far! On returning from the trip we had a ‘World Challenge Lockdown’ planning session, where we made sure all our accommodation, transport and activities for the near future was sorted as we soon are to be going in to the jungle where it could not be done. Once the planning was done, all the girls went out for a group dinner at the Jolly Frog restaurant and then had a wonder round the shops to buy ice creams and bracelets. Overall everybody had a really good day and is looking forward to tomorrow.

Georgia Willows

Friday, 26 July 2013

Hellfire Pass

26th July - Photos to follow...

Waking up by the riverside (Mekong River) and starting the day with a morning run by the river in Kanchanaburi made a nice change to the normal morning rush. After a yummy breakfast where some embraced their adventurous side by daring to order fruit! We then headed off to the train station where once we had navigated our way across the rails we got on a train heading for Nam Tok station for our first acclimatisation trek in Hellfire Pass. It’s fair to say it was no south west trains but the stunning views soon made up for the sore butts from the wooden seats. Overall the train journey was stunning, passing countless misty mountains and massive jungle rivers.

Once off the train we got onto what we can only call a Truck Tuk (half truck, half Tuk Tuk). We were dropped off at the Hellfire Pass museum where we got audio guides and started to look around the museum. This helped the group to understand the story behind the hellfire pass and made the actual trek a lot more meaningful. It was quite emotional as one film we saw showed the Allied troops just as they were captured looking healthy and fit...however, at the end they looked like stick insects, malnutrition, exhaustion and disease killed many (over 100,000...very sad!).

Lunch today gave us a welcome taste of home –Jam sandwichs. Many of us agreed a jam sandwich had never tasted so good! We then could avoid it no longer the trekking now had to begin! Steps is probably the best way to describe the next few hours. Down the steep rocky sides of the cutting into the rock proved quite easy but going back up them a few hours later proved slightly more challenging and caused us to get our sweat on. But Cliff spurred us on playing a game which he said would be fun called trains where the poor person at the back of the group had to somehow navigate their way to the front of the group when they were ‘chosen’ by Cliff ( a game which became slightly more challenging while ascending the steep steps at the end of the trek). The acclimatisation trek was a really good taste of our 6 day trek that is getting rapidly closer and helped us adjust and accept the fact that a permanent state of sweating awaits us. The trek was really rewarding and the whole group felt like we had achieved something which boosted team morale. How those guys managed to cut and prepare 420 km of track in 20 months is beyond belief.

We had a really nice evening where we met up with the other Royal School world challenge team who we had surprisingly bumped into the previous day. Our excitement was added to when we found out we had a $3 budget for dinner (a rare treat)! (Ed. Wooohoooo!!!!) Some even had their meals served to them with pineapples for plates! All together it was a really good, interesting day and we all learnt a lot and were grateful for our bed at the end of the night.

We’re all well (no illnesses at all) and happy to having an amazing experience...We miss you guys. Try not to worry.

Rhiannon Brown

Thursday, 25 July 2013


25th July - And at last folks we're up to date!! Yeeha!

After a long day of travelling the previous day we decided to give ourselves a lie in and met for breakfast at 10 o’clock which suited us all much better! We had a quick breakfast in the hostel that we were staying at (New Joe’s Guesthouse), packed up our belongings and all checked out by 12 o’clock. All eager to experience as much of the Bangkok atmosphere as possible, we set off out into the city in groups to make the most of the time we had there.

After experiencing the vibrancy of the city the previous night, some of us almost expected the day time in Bangkok to be a bit of an anti-climax, but we were proven wrong. There were still just as many crazy tuk tuk drivers, bustling markets and bars booming out loud music as before, so much that you would probably never get bored in a place like this! We continued looking around the markets, checking out possible accommodation for our next visit to Bangkok in a couple of weeks time and trying out the local street food (Ed. some of the best street food in the world...and no one feeling ill effects). The time we had flew by and by 2.30 it was time to meet back at the hostel and jump on a bus to take us to our next destination, Kanchanaburi.

We had a 2 hour bus journey which seemed relatively short compared to the whole day in the bus we had spent the previous day! We arrived late afternoon and straight away were impressed with the location of our hostel with jungle and mountain views overlooking the river, some of us even lucky enough to have rooms floating on the river! (Ed. all risk assessed of course :-). However, not everyone was pleased with their rooms and justifiably so..The infestation of ants, which I’m sure is common out here, certainly gave those concerned a little bit of a blow....Funny though Ginni and Sophie were wanting to stay in a ‘grotty’ room just for the experience...Who says we don’t try our best to meet everyone’s needs) We settled in quickly, made arrangements for our outings for the next day and headed out into the town to find somewhere to have dinner. Once we found a place to eat in Kanchanaburi we were waiting for our orders when on the other side of the street we saw the other Royal School world challenge group (Ed. not the best group of course ;-))! We were all excited to see each other and lots of stories to tell and tips to give.

Annie Pope

24th July

The normal 7am wake up for school is beginning to seem like a lie in as today was our third consecutive day of an early rise in order to get a 9 hour bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok. We were on the coach by 730 am and had reached the Cambodian border by 1230. We jumped off the coach and got in the queue for customs. Following this the whole group walked about 500m through ‘no man’s land’ and in to our new country. Once in Thailand we waited for our second bus to Bangkok. To say the minibuses were tight-squeezing would be a bit of an understatement however 5 and a half hours later we arrived in Bangkok.

Arriving in Bangkok at 7pm meant that the city was buzzing with atmosphere. The city was lit up and the streets were packed full of stall sellers who were selling all sorts of things from clothes to cooked grasshoppers and spiders. The whole team was eager to eat out in one of the many restaurants that were alive with music. The favourite meal of the evening amongst the team seemed to be Pad Thai. During dinner Cliff and the teachers decided to have some fun by setting each member of the team their own personal challenge. For those amongst you who imagine that these challenges are to be self reflective and meaningful I’m sorry to say that the challenges stretch from going up to another world challenge group and doing a ginger justice rap to doing ballet in the middle of the hostel lobby and of course a typical thing to do in Thailand, eat a scorpion! Whether these personal challenges are meant to be meaningful or just public embarrassment and the teachers own personal enjoyment is still being debated. (Ed. Hmmmm??? Lol)

After dinner we were all very tired after our long day so we made our way back to the hostel in order to get a good night’s sleep and a lie-in in the morning Yeeha!

Bethan Lance

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The sun that never rose

23rd July

4am. That’s how early we had to get up on our penultimate day in Cambodia so that we would be at Angkor Wat by sunrise. As we made our way to the temple the clouds in the sky were becoming more and more prominent. After a much needed breakfast we stood prepared to watch the sunrise over the iconic landmark, but it never did. Due to the mass of dense cloud in the sky the sun wasn’t visible and the sky simply became slightly brighter. A huge disappointment after the incredibly early start. (Ed. but we were standing in front of one of the world’s most amazing religious buildings :-))

We then had the opportunity to look around the temple itself. Both the beautifully detailed architecture and the gorgeous views from the top of the building were something to admire and be amazed by. We then proceeded to visit two more temples Bayon and Ta Prohm. The first temple had large faces carved into the rock which were both amazing and a little bit creepy. You felt like you were being stared at the entire time. The last temple we visited was the one where tomb raider was shot. It was amazing with plants and roots of trees breaking through the rock making the temple even more mesmerising.

We then returned to the hostel and relaxed until the evening when we made our way to the night markets. We split off into groups to explore and some even went to see a Cambodian circus. The markets we so pretty with all the light shining and stalls selling beautiful clothes and gifts. Money was spent not only on memories of Cambodia for ourselves but gifts for those back home. Making the most of the time we had left in Cambodia, when we reached the hostel most stayed up to play cards or chat about our time in the country before getting some sleep before we left the next day.

Georgia Stratford

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Arrival at Siem Reap - Luxury

22nd July

Today was out last day at Makak Village. After expecting porridge for breakfast we quickly learnt that this wasn't to be the case as Wan had cooked traditional Cambodian curry complete with noodles and chicken - there was no denying that it was a tasty dish but most of the team's (Ed. Not me :-)) appetite had subsided a little from the previous four days of rice and noodles plus the fact that it was six thirty in the morning didn't really help.

We then headed to the school for a final farewell and during our journey discovered that the local children decided to graffiti it with a triangle before the cement had set - this was less aggressive than graffiti back home but was painful for Gini to see :'( (Ed. look up ‘The Youth of Today’ quotation by Socrates) We left the school with a heartfelt goodbye from the headteacher and gave promises of future support to the project - excellently spoken by our leader of the day Georgia W ;).

There had been some heavy rain the night and the road (made out of mud) we had to travel on had some pretty deep potholes - almost doubling the size of Farnham Lane's! (Ed. I’ll take your word for that one ladies) Unbelievable, yes but true. So after a fun yet terrifying drive to Siem Reap we were faced with a dilemma - we were booked into the wrong guest house which was next door. The situation was quickly resolved by Cliff, Sarath (our in country advisor) and our super duper dynamic accommodation team ( woop woop :P) (Ed. I wanted ‘woop woops too :-(). We finally checked in, grabbed some insane fruit shakes and had a quick dip in the pool followed by an hour or so of sunbathing.

Afterwards we headed off to view the sunset over Angkor Wat temple - the largest religious building in the world. Unfortunately after a steep walk up a set of hills and Miss Mac having to use Hatty's cut off trouser bottoms as sleeves we were told "no sunset today" as a result of predicted torrential rain which then greeted us on our way down to our tuk tuk's. After feeling a bit down we were ravenous for dinner and were expecting all our meals to be prepared as we had booked them in advance. Our belly's were eventually satisfied two and a half hours later - the team was not happy. After some complaining (Ed. tactful negotiations) by Annie and Jaime, they managed to get our meal with 40% off which soothed the tense atmosphere. After chatting with another world challenge team staying in the same guest house we headed off to bed for an early 4am wake up to see the sunrise over Ankgor Wat. Despite having a few setbacks in one day the team tried as hard as they could to have an optimistic outlook for the days ahead. (Ed. all sent to challenge us! :-))

Susie Kelly

Monday, 22 July 2013

Sad to be Leaving

Sorry folks...we had a problem with Saturday 20th's blog...not mentioning any names but (Helaina!!! lol) forgot to save the word document in which Ginni had written it.  We'll see if we can get something out later...

Sunday 21st July
Today was our last day in Mkak village, so after having our porridge and condensed milk, which we were all begginng to enjoy... IT WASN'T RICE!!

We gathered the things we would need for the day and started to walk to the school. However, as it was a Sunday we were worried that there were not going to be any children at school, but as they spotted us walking up to school they ran over and followed us with their beaming faces, excited to spend another day with us.

When we got to the school we set up a rounders pitch and taught the children how to play, however, not sure how much they understood of what was actually going on, but they soon got the idea of hitting the ball and running. The main thing was seeing the smiles and the enjoyment they got out of it as it was obviously something they have never played before.

After playing rounders for a good few hours we decided to continue with construction as we also found this very rewarding once we completed a certain stage. We worked as hard today as we had for the whole week today to ensure that all the cement work and the wall we were asked to complete for the new classroom was finished. We were all so determined and wanted to make a difference to our short time which we had stayed in Mkak, and we all know how lucky we are back at home to have things like education given to us on a plate!! (Ed. and parents running around for us??? :-))

After having another filling lunch cooked by Wun, our cook, we headed back again to the school to finish the final bit of the construction. We put the school’s logo and name on the wall, with help from Gini (Ed. our resident artist) engraving (using a nail) it into the wall, it looked so good next to all the other sections of the wall!!

We then packed up all our belongings ready to leave early the next morning. Some of us felt particularly sad to leave the children, but knew we could always come back in the future!

Helaina Thomas

Friday, 19 July 2013

All's Well out in Rural Cambodia

(Ed. (Cliff) Hi Everyone..Well I've just come away from the village where our community project is located to get this blog out to you all...This took a little effort as the village, first off, has no electricity and this 'town' where I am right now is 13 km away.  The journey was actually a little perilous as it is completely along a mud track...and following yesterdays and last nights rain a bit slippery. Just to reasure parents, ALL the girs are doing well and already overcoming fears....mainly related to toilets and food(as you're about to read about :-))...Enjoy and will be back on in two days time when we get to Siem Reap.)

17th July – Buses, rats and squeaky shoes

Today we were woken up at 7, a little early for some peoples liking, then had to pack away all our things before breakfast as it was time to say goodbye to Phnom Penh and the 11 happy backpackers. It was sad to leave such friendly staff and we soon realized although the rooms weren't amazing it would be some of the last luxuries we would have until we are back in more built up areas. So we said goodbye to toilets and hello to squatters.

After a mad rush to our first bus we all piled in, as we were driven to the coach which we would be cooped up in for 6 hours! We all found little things that annoyed us on the journey there like; squeaky toddler shoes, a man’s phone that received a text every two minutes and people shouting down the phone. Our first break came as a surprise as we all had a 15 minute lunch break which gave us the chance to stretch our legs and discover some of the strange food on offer. Sadly we didn't end up trying fried locusts and spiders. Before we got back on the coach Rhiannon got a last goodbye to sanitary living as she found a rat swimming in the pool of water in the squatters.

At our next stop, 4 hours later, we were all in a panic about which stop we actually had to get off at, as most of us thought that we must have gone past it! However we got back on coach and after some reassurance from our Project organizer we carried on our way with one more hour left to go. Typically when it was nearly time to get off the coach it started raining heavily causing a mad dash for cover with our rucksacks when the coach finally stopped. This caused a lot of confusion as we nearly went away with an extra rucksack. But our travelling wasn’t over yet! We now got into another bus to take us to the village; we all looked outside the windows anxiously anticipating what the village was going to be like.

After we arrived at Makak Village we were all shown our room in the homestay, which was hot but cute as we were all staying in one large room and they had given us fans as a welcome present. Unpacking and erecting the mosquito nets seemed to take up the majority of our time and before long it was time for dinner. We all sat down to a delicious meal of rice, chicken, eggs and vegetables which seemed to go down well after a lunch consisting of a nutella sandwich! We all then started to wind down preparing for bed, but before that as a group we conducted a team review, describing our best and worst thing so far. We all laughed listening to each other’s comments. Just before bed, trauma struck, above the door to the outside toilet was a giant spider causing lots of people to scream (Ed. Not me understand ;-)) and made them unable to enter alone!

We are now are going to sleep waiting to see what tomorrow will bring as we listen to dogs howling.

Its 9.00pm!!!

Emily Scott

18th July - First day on site at the Project  – Rice, Rice and Runs
Today we woke up at 7, after a long, and for some a disturbed sleep. Many were kept awake by the sound of dogs howling, Rhiannon sleep talking and Cliff snoring (ED I never heard a thing ;-)). As we got up we discovered we had an unwelcome visitor, a cat! However Miss Mac happily grabbed it by the neck and chucked it out the windows onto a metal roof, it was not happy.

We then came downstairs for a typical Cambodian breakfast; it was interesting to say the least. Rice porridge, with chicken, river fish, garlic and chives. Some took to the fast shovelling method whilst others gingerly nibbled bits of their spoons...... but for everyone (apart from Cliff) found it 'too rural too soon'. (Ed. ok so I had seconds !!!! lol)

After breakfast some people went for a run through the village whilst others took to another bucket shower. We then were met by Piseth (the project host) who took us around the village. We went to the school and discussed what had to be built over the few days we were at the village (a wall and a part of the building), and then went to look at the organic farm that is being built. Whilst walking around the village the atmosphere is nothing anyone has experienced before. Every child comes to greet you at the entrance of their homes, shouting and waving hello. They are always so happy to see you and always seem so happy, even though they have harsh living conditions. (Ed. The nearest electricity from the village is 12km away)

After our tour we headed back to our accommodation for some lunch, which again was rice! (Ed. get use to it ladies lol ). This time it was delicious with potatoes, more vegetables and curried chicken. After the little amount people ate at breakfast, we were grateful for such a yummy meal.

At 2 o’clock we headed back down to the village to start some of our project work. Some got stuck in with the building whereas others played games with the children. The language barrier was hard at first but with some dramatic actions and numerous demonstrations we played games of duck-duck goose, splat, under over and hide and seek. We also learnt some of their names and were shocked to discover one or two girls were older than some of the team, 17...They looked about 12!

We then left the school and came back to our rooms for the evening. We all had a much needed shower, some went for the bucket shower and some went for the outside tank, both were very cold and refreshing though! Our evening meal was yet again, more rice (we think it may become our staple diet for the next few days (Ed. yup!!!)) but with pork, beef and more vegetables, once again delicious and was a great meal after a great, yet tiring, day.
Millie Fletcher

Friday 18 July - Rice, rice go away come back another day (or not)

This morning we had to wake up early (6.00 am) in order to get to school on time (7.30). For breakfast...yup you guessed it... it was rice again... with egg, hoorah! The addition of an egg cheered everyone up a lot. We all gathered our stuff and briskly walked down the track to school. Obviously news had spread that we were in the village as there were a lot more children at school today than yesterday even though there were no teachers there. Our large world challenge group dispersed into three groups of five or six people to do either teaching, sports or construction- building the school wall.

The lessons consisted of teaching the pupils to count and write numbers up to twelve (this proved difficult!). The construction team helped build the school wall by laying the foundations. The sports team were helping the children to learn new games and to throw and catch between each other. All these tasks made the groups feel as if they are making a real difference to the community, and the work men really appreciated the extra hands from the construction group.
At ten o’clock we all left the school as the children go home for lunch due to the heat. We arrived back shattered and very excited to finally have some communal snacks – crisps, fruit, nuts and biscuits.

Lunch was really good although it was rice and chicken again. For pudding we had sweet rice which is just rice, condensed milk and bananas on top. I’ve never eaten so much rice in my life. After lunch the sky clouded over and it looked like it was going to rain. People who had been doing construction in the morning had really sore shoulders so a few people made a massage circle to try and ease the pain.

At two O’clock six people went off to do some more construction while others chilled, chatted and did some cleaning. At the school the construction people continued to build the wall until we were surrounded by children who were desperate to play any games with us and all the toys we had brought to the school – balls, skipping ropes and rackets.

Then the rain hit! We were stood in the pouring rain loving the feeling of cooling down. We were all so relieved to have some rain so we bought our soap outside and showered in the rain. We all found this so refreshing...what an experience!

We then all anxiously awaited dinner hoping it was not going to be rice again. Guess what... it was rice and chicken this time with the addition of some pineapple...The food is actually really nice and they try hard to meet our western taste. We had a good bonding session where we all played Uno, until it got too competitive. Now we are all in the toilets brushing our teeth and keeping an eye out for the rat we previously found in the toilet.

Sophie Duckworth

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Bartering and Royalty - Phnom Penh Highlights

After breakfast this morning we all walked to the market. The market was an amazing experience and we each bought fruit and some of us bought balloon pants (Ed. Baggy pants worn by the locals). The market was very busy and so we had to watch our money belts as Cliff said people can easily steal them and cut them off. (Ed. The girls did well :-))

When we came back from the market, we had lunch which was very tasty; the majority of us had toasties! After lunch, we all took tuk-tuk's to The Royal Palace of Cambodia. The Palace was very beautiful on both the outside and the inside. We were all slightly disappointed that the King didn't come out and see us (Ed. He does actually live there and apparently he fly’s ‘The Royal Flag’ when he’s at home...Perfect if anyone wanted to pop him off and didn’t want to waste time hanging around lol ). Half way through the tour, we spotted some small monkeys. Most of us were excited at seeing Cambodian monkeys apart from Georgia(Ed. and me...smelly horrible things!) who backed away extremely quickly. (Ed. Hattie is right the palace is a truly beautiful place located in the middle of chaos and poverty. The buildings surrounding it are dirty, basic and in need of repair. During the Pol Pot years, the palace was ransacked and many of the royal treasures were stolen, however, what was on display inside the buildings was impressive, including a 40 kg Buddha.)

After a tour around the Palace, we all travelled back in tuk-tuk's to the 11 Happy Backpackers.

Arriving back at the hostel, we all went back up to our rooms and got ready for supper at the hostel (Ed. The food is very good here). After supper, we sat there talking and playing cards. We all ordered tank tops and then went to have showers and get ready to sleep.

(Ed. We’re just about to set off to our project area 70km from Siem Reap, The Makak Village. I’m not sure what the WiFi or internet access will be so we may be quiet for a while...I will try my best to get information out to you but please remember...’No news is good news :-))

Hattie Shaw