Time for a Little Fun and Debrief
Our work in Battambang came to an end too quickly. I know for those of you back home reading this blog it probably feels like we’ve been gone forever. Of course we missed our family and friends back home. But we are just starting new friendships and building on old ones, for those on the team that have been before. It’s sad for us to say goodbye to our new and old friends here. Friendship is different in Cambodia. You meet, grab someone’s hand and you are instant friends. There is an instant connection that is hard to describe. The good news is that everyone is on Facebook, even people in Cambodia who are living on very little manage to have cell phones and Internet access. We will keep in touch online!
We took a short two hour bus ride to Siem Reap to start our mini “vacation” and trip debrief. It was well deserved. This trip had been one of the most challenging we’ve ever experienced. The days were packed full and the team did an amazing job of making every child we met (over 1,000 of them) feel special and loved!
We started by checking into our guesthouse (hotel) called My Home Villa. Many of our teams have stayed here over the years so we already knew what to expect. The only surprise was the room leaders Sarah and Kari were assigned to had a major Mosquito infestation. After killing at least 50 mosquitoes we decided to get a new room! Overall, the rooms were amazing and the hospitality delightful. If you ever visit Siem Reap, we highly recommend it.
We started the afternoon with some lunch at a place called, The Sun, where most people had pizza or pasta. It was then time for a return to the guesthouse pool. A few leaders enjoyed a poolside massage for $6 an hour while the kids played water games and drank smoothies. Later that evening we went to the night market which is one of the big attractions in Siem Reap. Imagine the night life of Las Vegas mixed with hundreds of little stores, lots of loud music, and a ton of tourists and you get the idea. Our biggest concern of course was the safety of our team. We broke into groups, each with a leader and gave everyone $10 for dinner and a time to meet up. We got to shop and negotiate for all kinds of treasures, have dinner, and even get $3 foot massages (1/2 hour) or have fish suck the dead skin off our feet.
The next day was packed with more fun. We started it by going to the Zip Lines at Flight of the Gibbons (www.treetopasia.com/cambodia-holiday/angkor) . It included 10 different zip lines, the biggest being between a couple of the tallest trees in Cambodia and 300 meters long. We were way up there! We were above the rainforest and saw some very interesting critters including termites that were crawling in a long line up the 100 foot tree, little ants that ganged up and killed a giant ant, and huge spiders in their webs. We never did see the Gibbons, which are monkeys, but there are three that live there – mom, dad and baby. This was the first time zip lining for many of us. We were all a bit nervous as we put on our gear. Once we did the first “baby” line that was the introduction one, there was no turning back. We just kept climbing higher and higher and there was no where to go but on the next line. By about the 3rd line, we had all settled in and were letting go and flying like a Gibbon!
We ate an authentic Cambodian lunch near Angkor Wat and then broke into groups for the afternoon. One group spent the afternoon exploring Angkor Tom, one of the temples at Angkor Wat, one of the original seven wonders of the world. Another group went back to the hotel for more pool time. The third group went to “The Great Escape” – (http://greatescapecambodia.com), a new kind of attraction where you have one hour to find clues that give you a key to get out of a locked room. Unfortunately Eddie took too long putting batteries into our flashlight and that’s the reason we missed the last clue by seconds. (That’s an inside joke for Eddie :)).
We had another chance to visit the market and then we were off to a Cambodia ‘Asparah’ dance and dinner show. It was buffet style and had a combination of Cambodia and western food. The dancing told a story of a girl and a boy in a fishing village and their love story. The food was good and we got to try a lot of things we had never tried before.
The next morning we got on the bus and drove 8 hours from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh on a very bumpy, sometimes concrete sometime dirt road. On the way, we made a very special stop for our trip tradition. We stopped to hold live tarantulas and for Eddie to buy some snacks! We have a great video of Chris when he thought a tarantula crawled down his back. Must see, you won’t be disappointed!
The snacks were larva, crickets, tarantulas, cockroaches and baby frogs. They are fried and seasoned and you eat them like a bag of chips or popcorn. Yum! About 15 minutes after Lauren tried everything without hesitation, I heard her asking for floss. “I’ve got bug legs stuck in my teeth!”
We ate Dominoes Pizza for dinner and then packed and weighed our totes and suitcases. Once we had completed our packing for the return home in the morning, we met as a team and debriefed by discussing our experiences and takeaways from our time in Cambodia. We also received a visit from Sam Schweingruber, Eddie and Kari’s original YWAM DTS Leader to Cambodia in 2005, and his son Jayme.
Sam is the original founder of the SALT Academy (www.saltacademy.net) and the Mighty Girls program. He currently coaches the professional Cambodia team here called the Phnom Penh Crown (www.ppcfc.com), similar to our Seattle Sounders back home. The team is currently the defending champions and favored to repeat. It’s always a pleasure to see Sam because the Carter’s consider him family and a few our older girl leaders have known him since the original trip.
Following our debrief we presented this years team shirt, along with some fun gifts to our leaders to say thank you. We are now all tucked into bed and will be heading to the airport in the morning.
Thanks for following along with our trip and we will see you all soon! (Jum-Rip-Leah / Goodbye)
Cambodia Team 2015!
Olivia, Reimi, Sam, Winter, Lauren, Carter, Jessaca, Madeleine, Emily, Sarah N., Sydney, Emma C., Emma F., Natalie, Taryn, Liz, Chris, Sarah S., Kari and Eddie