For many of our teachers this is the first Christmas that they’ve spent in Asia. Although Christmas is not a public holiday in Cambodia the school does close for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Our volunteers Jay, Matt and Sam describe how they spent the festive break.
Cycling Siem Reap
Teaching has been a great experience so far. I’ve managed the waking up at 5AM and I have a lot of banter with my students. Christmas away from home was also so much fun, getting to explore somewhere new in the heat.
With three other volunteers, Jenny, Laura and Stephanie I travelled to Siem Reap to visit the temples. We had a blast exploring the temples by day and spending the evenings eating, partying and getting lost in the various markets dotted around the town.
The trip to Angkor Archaeological Park was the perfect Christmas gift from my parents. In the few days I was there I cycled 60km plus around the park. I visited Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm and Banteay Kpai . They are incredible temples and sites, words can’t justify how extraordinary it is. The brickwork is intensely detailed and when cycling to the sites it was just so picturesque. My favourite site was Ta Prohm. The power of the trees growing on and around the fallen bricks was breath-taking. The roots and stance of the trees made you feel weak. I just sat for a while; it was an experience I will never forget.
By Jay Gotham http://journals.worldnomads.com/jaygotham/#axzz2qNDju2T9
Relaxing on Koh Kong
At first, the prospect of being in a foreign country for Christmas was a little daunting. However the few days we spent on Koh Kong turned out to be one of the most interesting Christmas’ we had ever had. The holiday not only introduced us to the gritty reality of life in a Cambodian province but we also experienced fine dining and exploratory trips.
We discovered the best place to eat, Café Laurent, on the first day. Built around water the restaurant was a serene place to enjoy varied food, ranging from delicious Western meals to amazing Khmer cuisine. Needless to say, we dined there for most of our meals.
Two days of our trip were spent relaxing on Koh Kong beach, at a place called the ‘Crab Shack’. We all agreed that this place was the most relaxing environment on earth, offering us flawless hospitality, soft white sand, and a gorgeous sunset. Our relaxation levels were at an all-time high. It seemed strange to think that at exactly the same time our friends and family were eating turkey, hiding from the cold, frantically buying last minute gifts, and sitting around a Christmas tree.
On Christmas Eve, we spent the day on Koh Kong Island. Here, we were treated to a delicious fish barbeque, drinks in abundance and great company. We met other Westerners who exchanged their travel stories with us, expanding our cultural understanding. We then visited the Mangrove Forest, which was a unique eco-tourist experience, allowing us to venture further into yet another unknown natural environment. Spending the day in such tranquil surroundings demonstrated all the natural beauty that Cambodia has to offer.
Koh Kong may be a bit out of the way, but escaping the hustle and bustle of the city combined with the experiences on offer there made this a wonderful place to spend our Christmas holiday.
In Koh Kong, nothing can Koh Wrong!
By Matt Nicholls and Sam Cross. Images copyright of Jay Gotham and Nadine Kolz.