We had an early 4am start in Bali on the 21st. Our flight for Siem Reap left at 7am, with a 3 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur and we arrived around 3pm. The boys were great though. We’ve had a few super early mornings on the trip and they’ve settled in to the possibility that some days we sleep in and some days we’re up before the sun.
Leaving an airport or bus station over here and finding your way to where you want to go can sometimes be a real headache. No...all the time. The moment you’re through the gates with your luggage, you’re swarmed by the masses of taxi, bus, motorbike drivers looking to take you anywhere you want to go. And for you, they all have a special deal. For me? Really? I make sure Max & Sully stay close and try to have as much fun with it as possible. This time however, I had pre-arranged a driver with the guest house we were staying at and Hong was there, smiling and waiting for us. It was a nice change. Boys were convinced we were VIP since he had a ‘Welcome Jason Pearson’ sign. But once we got outside I slightly regretted booking the driver. Tuk-Tuks (basically a motorbike with a carriage on the back) are everywhere here and it would have been fun to take one into the city. (But, we’ve been in lots since!)
On the drive into the Siem Reap, the streets were an eclectic mix of old, new and old trying to be new again. There are huge hotels situated next to tiny shacks and convenience stores (but not the 7/11 kind - all open air and selling the same thing). There were still lots of motorbikes, not as many cars as Bali, and of course Tuk-Tuks. With many children in them waving to us with huge smiles on their faces
Everyone we’ve met on the trip has mentioned that we would love Cambodia and they all wished they had stayed longer. So far, it hasn’t let us down.
Besides spending a few days visiting the Angkor temples, the boys were content hanging around the Guest house and playing with the children that live there. Different variations of hide and seek, man hunt and Uno were constantly on the go. There are also some schools that the Guest house is associated with and the boys spent time volunteering to help organize and distribute school supplies that had been donated by a charity. They loved it. Later in our stay, we were invited out of the city to where the children have their weekly chess club tournaments. I spent the afternoon watching Sully and Max play chess and other games with some of the local kids at their school. I was just a fly on the wall, but it was so very cool to watch. A bit of a language barrier, but it didn’t matter much.
At night we've ventured out to the Made in Cambodia market or the tourist laden Old Market area (Phsar Chas). The old market area was a little depressing as we tended to see more people effected by the extreme poverty here. Kids Max's age walking around, sniffing glue, begging. You want to give them money but we were told not to as it's just given to their 'handlers'. Tough. But we also got to taste great food...look at some and NOT eat it (see picture!) and of course barter. Boys are always bartering!
Oh, and finally 3 pictures. This one was taken at the Made in Cambodia market. I actually said nothing this entire meal. NOTH-ING. I stayed quiet on purpose and they didn't even realize it. The only time I was spoken to was when Sully asked if he could order some more food! Imagination Nation was in full effect. Completely engaged in whatever game or scenario they were creating. It had everything to do with the Angkor Wat temples and nothing to do with me.
And this one. I have woken up to this the past few mornings. Yes! Max has been sucked into Harry Potter's world. He just finished book 3, The Prisoner of Azkaban and has moved onto The Goblet of Fire.
Finally it has started! All of Max & Sully's friends back home (as well as Camilla ;) can rest assured that they are actually doing some school work! This was an intense Math session taking place on our rooftop balcony. Shirts are optional at our school. Extracurriculars are being taken away as of tomorrow. Probably won't do reports either. ;)