Goodbye Cambodia!

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Mar 08, 2010

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, February 26, 2010

This is our last day in Cambodia. We have a number of short items on the itinerary today before we head to the airport for our evening flight to Hanoi.

First stop, Sra Srang elementary school. This is a small school in a small village area outside of Siem Reap. It reminds me of the school I where I taught in Thailand, but this is a single story. There's a dirt front area where some of the boys are playing. They're in the typical school uniform for Asia- blue pants or skirts and white top. The building is like a motel- windows and doorways on the front and back. Open air feeling.

The group has brought pens, pencils and such to give out. We visit a 4th grade class. They show off their English for us- singing the alphabet song, and introducing themselves individually. Then they sing a couple songs in Khmer. We head next door to 1st graders who don't have English yet. We're all busy snapping pictures. I take some and show them to the kids. Mark volunteers to take some shots with me and the kids. So, I squeeze in between them and he snaps away.

Then we're off to Preah Khan. This is much like Ta Prohm, built by the same king, but this one was for his father and is in much better condition. The layout they say is the same as Ta Prohm- if it was standing. Preah Khan has some trees growing through it and fallen stones, but no where near as bad as Ta Prohm. We head back to the hotel by 10. We have a break now for us to pack up and put out our bags. They will get loaded up for the airport while we head out for lunch, which is at Indochine Cafe- owned by a Frenchman. The meal is tasty Khmer food, not french.

We drive back out to the near country side where Seth tells us was one of many killing fields that is now a temple area and memorial. The memorial stupa is filled with skulls that were found in the mass grave. It's pretty depressing and I'm happy to leave after a very short visit. Seth's father was one of the estimated 2 million who lost their lives to either the murderous Khmer Rouge, or fighting the VietNamese when they invaded, or by land mines etc.

Next stop is to the Artisans Angkor craft school. We saw ( and I bought) some of their work at the cafe outside of Angkor Wat where we had lunch the other day. I buy some more stuff for presents. And then the last stop in Cambodia to JWOC. This is a non-profit organization that Collette contributes to. They mostly give scholarships for college level students, and have classes for the community in English or other topics. They also have a well program and small business loans. They pull us into an English class and we're paired off for conversations with the students. They're mostly college level. I have two talking to me and we go through the usual TOEFL type dialogue.

Finally, 3:30 and we head for the airport. The check-in line is huge and of course I'm in the slow moving one. We make it through to the waiting area  by 5. I notice a couple of computers available by the bar and turn on the eeeepc to find a free airport wifi so I can kill some wait time. Then we load up on the plane.  Goodbye Cambodia!

What can I tell you about Cambodia? smiling beautiful people with a great deal of love for life and happiness. They are struggling to bring their home out of the darkness of their past, but they have confidence and hope and no despair. They are immensely proud of their cultural heritage that is represneted by Angkor. They recognize their need for education to improve their personal and national position. And they will persevere and I have every confidence that they will be the next little tiger of asia. But, MAN, is it hot and humid!
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