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Recent Blog Posts from Cambodia

The Killing Fields   (published in Cambodia)

October 19, 2017 by   Comments(0)

It's been a several days since my last blog-I've been a very busy bee! After my amazing weekend in Siem reap, I unfortunately became ill...I'm not going into details but I had to take a few days off my project sadly. I think I went back a little early and everything was a bit much for me. What made the week harder is the different view of hitting children here in Cambodia. To hit a child isn't seen as unacceptable and it's taken me a while to adapt to seeing children being hit. Most of the time it's just a little hit but on occasion it isn't so gentle.

This week at the nursery has been so much better and I feel like I've turned a leaf-the more I'm putting into it, the more I'm getting out. Although I did have to use the naughty chair for the first time this week which the children didn't like as much!Last weekend I decided to stay in Phnom Penh and explore the city...which ended in going to the S-21 museum and the killing fields. On 17th April 1975, the Khmer Rouge (led by Pol Pots) took control of Cambodia and set up polices to ruin human life and turned parts of Cambodia in to a graveyard of nearly 2 million people. Their aim was to turn Cambodia into a rural, classes society where there were no rich, poor or exploitation. They abolished money, free markets, schools, religion and traditional Khmer culture. Schools, shops and mosques were turned into prisons, stables and granaries. The regime didn't allow anyone to have a social life-if three people talked they could be accused of being enemies and arrested or executed. People were forbidden to show affection, humour or pity. Soon after seizing power, they arrested and killed thousands of soldiers, military officers, civil servants, intellectual people and the minorities (including people with glasses as they were ...

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The Killing Fields
The Killing Fields

My weekend away to Siem Reap   (published in Cambodia)

October 10, 2017 by   Comments(1)

Well I'm halfway through my third week here and still enjoying it.This past weekend I've been to Siem reap which was incredible. On Thursday evening I took my first night bus to Siem reap and the 6 hours went surprisingly quickly! Got to our hotel at 5:30am and just sat and had a drink. At 7:00am the pool opened so we had an early morning swim which was strange because the hotel was still so quiet! In the afternoon, we went to the floating villages on a noisy colourful boat which was amazing-we took a smaller boat directly into the village and into the groves which were so peaceful and beautiful. We rode further along the river and the water opened up. There was a wooden structure in the centre of the water where people were on boats having water fights with each other!! We even saw monks having some fun! The driver asked us if we wanted to go back to our tuk tuk or go round the structure. Obviously we wanted to go round again, but of course the people on the boats recognised us so threw water at us!! It was one of the highlights of the weekend. On the way back, we sat at the front of the boat as the sun was setting.The next day, we woke up at 4:00am to see the sunrise at the Angkor Wat temple. Unfortunately it was too cloudy to see an impressive sunrise but it was still amazing. We walked around the temple (in torrential rain) then went for breakfast which was rice...there's a lot of rice in Cambodia. We then went to Bayon Temple where on each of the towers there are different faces carved into the stone. Next was Ta Prohm Temple which was where Angelina Jolie filmed part of Tomb raider. Finally we went to Banteay Kdei which was so old and quiet which is why it was my favourite. There was nothing special about it but I think that's why I liked it the most. We went ...

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My weekend away to Siem Reap
My weekend away to Siem Reap

Getting to know Cambodia   (published in Cambodia)

September 30, 2017 by   Comments(0)

I've been in Cambodia nearly five days now and I'm starting to get used to the different way of living Cambodian people (Khmer)take. The first few days were challenging but eye-opening. My first day at the kindergarten I'm teaching at called Khor Mouy was hard since I didn't know what the routine was, nor the children. Also, I was unexpectedly asked to teach even though I hadn't planned anything...I quickly found that 3-6 year olds have a very small concentration span! I came home feeling quite useless really. However the next day, I was able to plan a lesson and the day went a lot smoother and I was actually sad to be leaving in the afternoon, not relieved like the day before. It was also challenging seeing the unfair position the children are put in. Many of them are underweight and 90% of the children either have black/rotten teeth. Part of the kindergartens role is teaching them how to wash their hands, brush their teeth and shower. I understand this seems like bread and butter to Westerners but for the children and their families, hygiene isn't educated widely throughout Cambodia. A child who is one of the youngest, had never seen a white person before, never mind one with freckles! She stood in front of me and stared at me for a while and touched my skin. The children themselves are getting used to me as well and sit on me whenever they can!Tuk Tuks are new, also the way Khmer people drive. Only 30% of the Cambodian population have a drivers license and the majority of Cambodians drive either a car or motorbike. Clearly, this results in some interesting journeys. The Khmer don't listen to traffic lights and just go when they want, they don't look when they are turning into a main road-its down to the drivers already on the main road to honk their horn to warn the ...

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Getting to know Cambodia
Getting to know Cambodia

Blog: Goodbye

Ben 57 days ago

Goodbye   (published in Cambodia)

August 25, 2017 by   Comments(0)

The time has come, tonight my plane leaves back to Belgium. After my nice time on the project, I also really enjoyed the last week here when I wasn't working anymore and therefore free to travel around. The past weekend I spent my time in and around Battambang, followed by some last days of relaxing in Phnom Penh and meeting my friends here for a last time to say goodbye (for now :)). 

After the different weekendtrips that I have made with my fellow volunteers in the past weeks, this weekend I went to Battambang on my own. Although I did miss the company from time to time, it was also nice to go out and discover the countryside around the city by myself. That was mostly what I did during my days there, because the city itself was not really special in my opinion, but the surroundings had some really interesting places to discover. I rented a scooter for two days, and on the first day I did a big tour in the south of the city, including a ride on the famous bamboo train in the morning. This was a quite fun experience, sitting on a bamboo platform on some misaligned rail tracks for a very bumpy ride of about 20 minutes one-way. It's something you can only do here! After this activity, I went on to visit the Banan temple further to the south, a relatively quiet place on the top of a long and steep stairway, before continuing my tour to Phnom Sampov. This last place is a hill, on top of which you can find a few different caves, of which one is known as the killing cave. Next to the various killing fields in Cambodia, this was another sad reminder of the dark period that the country went through a couple of decades ago. Fortunately, there were also some much nicer spots on the hill, such as a rocky platform from where you had some fantastic views over the surroundings. ...

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10 weeks already   (published in Cambodia)

August 19, 2017 by   Comments(0)

It feels like time has moved very quickly over the past months. Yesterday, I spent the final day of my 10 weeks working on the microfinance project already. Because I still have one week in Cambodia ahead of me to do some travelling, there was no need to say goodbye yet, but it did feel a little bit strange to leave the office for the last time though. 

During my last weeks on the project, we had a lot of new, potential beneficiaries that were requesting a loan from us. So we spent a lot of time going to the communities to give introductary trainings or to go over the business questionnaires with the small business owners individually. The most recent group that we visited, however, was in a quite different setting than the ones that I got used to so far. These people all lived in relatively modern and nice appartments in a group of very big appartment buildings near a community where we already had a group of beneficiaries before. The reason for this, as I heard from the local authorities, is that these people were evicted from their lands because of some new corporate developments in that area and in return they were given these new appartments to live in. From what I understood, most of the locals were actually rather satisfied with these new living circumstances, as I can imagine that their new homes are a lot more comfortable than the places where they used to live. It did feel quite strange to see the same type of people and businesses as I have seen here my entire stay in a much more modern surrounding though. But in the end, placing them in a different environment does not mean that their daily income and spending capacity for food and other basic necessities has also increased. So we could still do some useful work here. 

Apart from the daytime when ...

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10 weeks already
10 weeks already

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