Journey to Ancient Asian Cultures
We enjoyed a full day taking advantage of Phnom Penh on our last day in Cambodia. After a bountiful breakfast at the hotel, we traveled about twenty minutes away to the Genocide Museum. The property was a school until the Khmer Rouge converted it into a prison.
With heavy hearts, we walked through the classrooms converted into cells and torture chambers, taking in photographs of the many prisoners brought through the camp. We even had the opportunity to talk with some of the camp’s survivors, who had been children during their imprisonment. It was difficult subject matter, but the boys handled it well, and many remarked on the impressions walking through the building made on them.
Some of the group headed back to the hotel to process the morning, while others continued on to the National Museum. The red, distinctly architectural building housed artifacts from several eras of Cambodian history, including statues, tools, ceramics, and larger items like weaving looms and a boat cabin.
Mid afternoon, we reconvened and headed to our cooking lesson at La Table Khmer. the instructors guided us through three courses, beginning with traditional Cambodian curry with the choice of fish, chicken, or tofu. This dish was particularly unique in that we created our own steaming vessels out of banana leaves. Our second course was green mango and carrot salad. The big hit of the night was coconut mango sticky rice for dessert. Once we had finished preparing our dishes, we sat down in the dining room to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Pictures from today are updated under the Photos tab. Tomorrow we say goodbye to Cambodia and journey back to the States. Thank you all for following along on this blog. We hope you have enjoyed hearing from your students and seeing them in action. We appreciate all you have done to make this trip possible, and we thank Forman for making opportunities like these for our kids possible.
~Erika and Patrick
By Lex Gardner
Today we had to wake up early in order to travel to Phnom Penh, which is the capital of Cambodia. At 8 we got on a lavish bus and began the long journey to Phnom Penh. Along the way, we stopped many times to get snacks and use the bathrooms. I bought many different types of food from the locals including ground nuts, a pork bun, mango, and sugar cane. The trip took nearly 7 hours. Along the way I noticed that there was a lot of poverty in the small village. I also realized that their main source of income was farming due to the vast field in between the villages. This is very different from the city economy that was based on tourism and selling goods. As we got closer to Phnom Penh the buildings turned from shacks to more modern buildings. Once we got to the heart of the city it was clear that this was the most modern and wealthy city we visited on our trip. After a restful nap, we set out on to eat dinner and go to the local markets and resistant. At the market, I bought a nice watch for 15$. Then we went back to the hotel and had a restful night of sleep.
Today we had the opportunity to visit the floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake and explore the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary. During the half hour drive from the hotel to the lake, our guide, Billy, explained how the lake and river flood during the rainy season, how one of the floating villages moves every few weeks with the changing water levels, and who the different ethnic groups making up the villages are.
At the lake, we road in a boat to the other side, where we encountered our second floating village of the morning before switching into two smaller boats. In the sanctuary, we drove slowly through the river while Billy pointed out the different species that came into view. Some of the birds we saw today included spotted billed pelicans, painted storks, ibis, purple herrings, and gray-headed fish eagles.
A lat lunch took place on a 1927 river boat converted into a restaurant. After fueling up, we reversed our journey to the hotel to rest, later reconvening for dinner at Jungle Burger. We made a final visit to Pub Street and the Night Market for any final Siem Reap souvenirs, then returned home to get ready for bed.
Tomorrow morning we will drive to our final WInterim 2019 stop, Phnom Penh.
By Joseph Podolsky
Today we started off the day with a nice breakfast buffet. After breakfast we traveled to a famous water fall that had multiple levels. We were able to to swim in the water that was considered to be holy. After that we went to see a famous statue of a Buddha that was carved into a huge bolder. After lunch we went to the mine museum to see all the research and weapons that Cambodia has found and it was very interesting to actually see the bombs and mines used because seeing these things in person show much more than in a picture. To end the day off we went to a nice dinner with a performance showing the culture.
Pictures from the last two days have been updated!
Hello families and friends!
Today was truly incredible. In the early part of the day, we visited Angkor Wat and two other prominent temples. Our guide, San, was very well informed and taught us the history of these places and spoke about his own life. He was a teen away for school during the Pol Pot regime when his family was killed. He spent three years of his life as a monk, and later worked with the UN clearing landmines across Cambodia.
In the evening, we attended the highly-recommended Phare Circus, which we can now vouch to be a can't-miss experience. After dinner at the Red Piano, the boys had time to explore the famous Pub Street and Night Market. We returned to the hotel and got ready for bed at nine.
Be on the lookout for a full recap of the day from one of our students soon. Uploading to the photos page is currently proving difficult, but there will soon be many great shots of our kids from the day under that tab!
By Levon DeGennaro
The gang woke up bright and early on our 4th full day. We all traveled to the airport by bus, checked our baggage, went through security and boarded our first flight. Our first flight was to Bangkok where we went through many layers of security. After we landed in Siem Reap we took a ten minute van ride to our hotel. We were given plenty of time to relax and find our barings in the even more humid climate. After a healthy chill sesh the gang reconvened and we all went to a fancy dinner at the building next to our residence. After an amazing dinner experience the crew decided to turn in early and get some much needed rest. Tomorrow we will explore some of the city's most famous attractions.
By Kesha Wootton
Today we went zip lining and it was really really scary because when we first went there we were showed safety instructions and then were sent on the zip lines. Zip lining has such high heights, which scared me because it was such an experience when you look down. It was almost better than any roller coaster because once you went off you would have about a 200 foot drop below you. We went on several zip lines and each one was just as crazy as the last. The only thing that scared me and truly scared me was when we had to go down trees on a rope. To propeller ourselves we had someone let rope through a device so we could get lowered. The first time they Let me down the tree it scared me because I forgot to say slow down and they plummeted me about 50 to 60 feet down below. Then we went on more zip lines which were super fun.
Another thing that I thought was cool was that it was in the middle of nowhere and from one place to another it was like a mini fortress that they had built up. The coolest thing about zip lining was that you felt so free every single time you went off of it. You were over an immense height that you knew you weren’t going to fall. At the same time there is always that doubt in the back of your head that if you fell how high you were up. Then at the very end we had to go down about a seven story tree through the roping process. That was terrifying to me because I’m afraid of heights and I felt like I was going to fall seven stories. Then we had lunch at the restaurant down below and we had black rice, chicken coconut soup with mushrooms, and chicken in it as well as fresh fruit such as watermelon and pineapple. Overall that the zip lining experience was really really fun.
Today's post comes in two parts from two authors. Enjoy reading about our adventures below!
Doi Inthanon National Park--By John Blake
The day started off with a semi early 7:30 breakfast. Shortly after we boarded the van and began the two hour drive to the area we where going to be in for the day. We started off with going to a waterfall. Myself jack and keen traveled to the top of the waterfall to find nothing but a parking lot. Nevertheless, we still had a good time observing the waterfall and then shortly after we went to go get lunch. During lunch there was a political protest going on right out side. After lunch we traveled a short distance to a new area where we went on a about a 30 minute hike through the woods where we saw small statues honoring certain people along with the different types nature surrounding it. Finally we traveled to our last destination where we saw two massive temples. At the top of both of them there where rooms that had sculptures in side of it but in order to enter you had to take you shoes off. There was also pretty seniory surrounding the temples and when we where done with them we board the van once more and started our way back to the hotel.
The Night Market--By Peter Bonczek
The markets were amazing there was so much going on. There were a lot of different types of people there and also shops going on. There were a lot going on and also so many different types of things to buy. There were a lot of different smells from all the different foods being cooked. I heard a lot of different people speak different languages .
We have two new sets of pictures on the 'photos' tab--additional shots from yesterday from the tour company, and pictures from today.
By Matt Stanley
Today has been an experience I will never forget it as there is no way anything else could ever compare to how we were able to interact with the elephants. After a relatively early morning following a long day of travel, we were all able to get fed and moving on the road for the ride out into Thailand’s backcountry. When we finally got to our destination, it was not after we got out of the van that we saw the elephants taking refuge in the shade of the trees. As we approached the site where we would spend most of our day, the pack emerged from their hiding spot in the jungle as they knew food would be on its way shortly. We were quickly debriefed on how to feed to animals before being handed baskets of sugarcane and bananas along with the addition to watch out for “the naughty girl”. As we entered the pen that was meant to prevent any of the 1-ton giants charging us for food, we found out where the young three-month-old elephant got her nickname as “the naughty girl” from when she decided she was going to split the group and come inside the pen with us. After she managed to find her way out of our enclosure, the four elephants managed to stuff themselves with all ten baskets of snacks in what felt like no time at all. We then took them for a walk up into the woods which was soon accompanied by them giving out hugs and some kisses on the neck for the camera. After the short hike, we devoured our lunch as the elephants got a second meal of some branches and coconuts. Then, after changing into swimsuits, we proceeded to follow the elephants into a pit of mud and give them a mud bath. This did not last long before evolving into a scene of mud and water being thrown about resulting in everyone leaving with a layer of mud covering their body. The elephants knew what was next though as they soon proceed to make their way down a muddy trail to a river tucked away in the trees. More splashing followed as we washed both the elephants and ourselves of the mud coating our skin. That wrapped up our day at the park as we cleaned ourselves up and packed into the van. After the two-hour car ride back, everybody was ready to crash as it was a relaxing evening at the hotel.
*Note from Miss Prince: Check out the 'Photos' for some shots from today! Pictures will be added daily.
We have successfully reached the end of our first day in Thailand. After powering through our JFK to Hong Kong flight, we had a quick three hour jaunt over to Chiang Mai. We were collected from the airport and brought to our lodgings for the next few days, the Bodhi Serene Hotel. Everyone took an hour to refresh and unpack before meeting back up for dinner at the hotel restaurant. Once fed, the boys were all eager to get to bed.
We have our first adventure leaving at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Check back in to hear how things went from one of out students!