Friday, 4 December 2015

The sights and sounds of magnificent Cambodia

COUNTRY: Cambodia
PROJECT: Teaching and Health Science
WRITTEN BY: Sarah Mengel

On arriving in Phnom Penh you are immediately faced with the obstacles of crossing a road, driving on the opposite side or simply creating your own rules to get to where you need to go. The incessant honk honk from Tuk Tuks and other vehicles as they approach someone going more slowly is a constant reminder that you are no longer in Australia. So is seeing an entire family riding a moped built for one. However, this is all part of the magnificent package that is Cambodia.

A little about our crew, there’s a total of nine Antipodeans volunteers, including myself. Due to the water festival celebrations that occur each year around this time throughout Cambodia, our placement officially commences on Monday (December 30), which gave us the week to learn more about the history of Phnom Penh and travel up to Siem Reap by bus.

During our first week we met our amazing travel guide, who in the first two days took us through many things. He showed us the killing fields and prison S-21, where he gave recounts of his own personal experiences as a survivor through the Khmer Rouge regime, which was responsible for the Cambodian genocide. He also taught us how to speak some Khmer that we have slowly been practising on our local outings. As well as general words we also learnt some words to help us on placement like hut prahn for exercise and lum nun for balance.

However, the highlight of my trip so far was the morning workouts at Olympic Park Stadium where you can join in the aerobic classes that start at 5am, followed by some stair runs (of course). The class slowly grows to 40+ people and there’s approximately three to four classes being conducted around the stadium. You can try faster and more upbeat with lots of arm movements or slower with more footwork. All in all the locals make it look easy (most of them are also easily over 50 – kudos to them!).

We arrived in Siem Reap by bus yesterday and shall tackle the Angkor Wat temples tomorrow at the crack of dawn.

Till then, lie hey (bye).

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