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We are in Battambong (sp?), Cambodia's 2ndlargest city. We left Phnom Penh sometime last week. I am not exactly sure when, because time does not seem to matter in this country. No one is on a schedule or in a hurry to do anything. The first city we stopped in after leaving Phnom Penh was Pursat Province, where wearrived with a literal bang, duing a large thunderstorm. Pursat is the main headquarters of Sustainable Cambodia, a government organization that teaches Cambodian villagers how to sustain themselves off of what they already have. They do this from the ground up. Starting with having Pre-School for the small children. So from a early age they are taught basic in Khmer and English. The villages were very neat, but my favorite part was visiting the school. In addition to going to state school some students choose to learn english and other vocational skills at the Sustainable Cambodia School. We met with the older more advanced english students. There english was excellent we were able to play games and carry on normal conversations to find out more about each other and their customs and culture. It was an amazing expierence that I will never forget. The hardest part was leaving. Although, I had been there only a day I felt connected to the place.

After a day and a half in Pursat we felt it was time to move on again. We loaded our things and were off. Not sure where we were going. We stopped in a town that was 10 Km off of the main road. We first had to ask the village chief if it was okay if we stayed the night in his village. He welcomed us. We stayed in a Pagoda, that was connected with the Wat (temple) for the villages. It was quite a unique place the pagoda was positionted at the foot of the only mountain for miles. It was a very speacial place.

Today we traveled by Bamboo train, which is basically a bamboo cart with a motor on the back. It was not the most comfortable expierence, but it was great to see the countryside and the small villages that lined the track were very unique.

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Back in the City

Matt Moore,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

We are in Battambong (sp?), Cambodia’s 2ndlargest city. We left Phnom Penh sometime last week. I am not exactly sure when, because time does not seem to matter in this country. No one is on a schedule or in a hurry to do anything. The first city we stopped in after leaving Phnom Penh was […]

Posted On

07/6/08

Author

Matt Moore

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Hello everyone!!!

This has been such an incredible and lifechanging experience for me as well as the other group members. I have already discovered so much about myself and my personal beliefs and it has only been a little over a week. It is truly amazing what happens when you get an outgoing group of people together with three great leaders and send them packing.

I cant wait for what is in store for us in the next five weeks here.

much love!

ashton

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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CAMBODIA!!

Ashton LeCraw,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

Hello everyone!!! This has been such an incredible and lifechanging experience for me as well as the other group members. I have already discovered so much about myself and my personal beliefs and it has only been a little over a week. It is truly amazing what happens when you get an outgoing group of […]

Posted On

07/6/08

Author

Ashton LeCraw

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We woke up early the next morning and I arranged some Tuk Tuks to take us to get a pickup truck. Although they took us to a bus first, we eventually convinced them that, regardless of the fact that there were twelve of us (Sam and Luisa had dehydrated themselves badly and had to go to SOS), we wanted to squeeze into a pickup truck. We reached the market where they again tried to convince me (I was in charge of transportation for the first four days) that we wanted to travel a different way. I think everyone genuinely enjoyed the pickup truck ride. We sang songs and got pelted by freezing rain for a little while (the freezing rain was non-persistent) before pulling over for a short rest. I, having been a wee bit on the sick side, decided to take a ride in the much less bumpy cab. When we arrived at Porsat we went to the same guest-house we stayed at last year and found some rooms for the night. The next morning we headed out to see Sustainable Cambodia, a NGO, which deals helps with bottom up development in rural communities. They help build rice banks so that villages don't have to sell their rice dirt cheap at the harvest, but instead can save it and sell it when rice is at a premium. They build pre-schools for the younger children because many mothers stay inside to take care of their young children when they could be planting or harvesting their rice. This increases the yield (because they can gather more during the time when the rice is best) and makes the work less time consuming. Among their many endeavors, their high school and middle school is the most impressive. In Porsat (sorry for the wrong spelling last time) town they have a school staffed by both paid staff and volunteers (two of which will be past Dragon's students) to teach the children a variety of subjects. We visited some of the villages to see the preschool and we saw the rice bank, but the gem of the day was when we played games with the older kids at the school.


There doesn't seem to be a day that I am not on a time restriction! Alas, I have to go. More to follow!

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Sustaining Cambodia

Ben Wilsker,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

We woke up early the next morning and I arranged some Tuk Tuks to take us to get a pickup truck. Although they took us to a bus first, we eventually convinced them that, regardless of the fact that there were twelve of us (Sam and Luisa had dehydrated themselves badly and had to go […]

Posted On

07/6/08

Author

Ben Wilsker

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The last24 hours have been one of the most experiences of my life. We woke up in our town in Pursat yesterday morning with the intention of catching the 1:00 pm train to Battambang. However, after a language lesson with our leader Mara, we learned that infact the train was broken and because the train only runs once a week, the train was out of the picture. Instead, we piled into the back of a pickup and headed North. We eventually got to a little village the Mara knew about but had never been to. We learned as we pulled into the village that we were to spend the night in a pagoda (public temple) if the leader of the town granted us permission. We were the first group of Barang (literally meaning French, but used as a generic term for white people) to stay in this town since at least French colonization (if not the first ever). The leader granted us permission and we made our way up the hill to the monastery. It was truly amazing. The monastary was so beautiful. The main temple sat up on top ofa mountain alone overlooking the entire province and beyond. The monks accepted us and we payed our respects to Buddha.

At this point we were starving, so we made our way down to the small village market. We definately were quite a spectacle. Here were 14 massive white people walking around their remote village eating at the little cafe and stores. I ate adish in village I had been meaning to try since I heard about it in LAX international airport: steamed duck fetus (in egg).After a lunch/dinner in town we retuirned up to the monastary where we meditated and relaxed, taking in the fresh air and beautiful surroundings. We did some basic meditation and jounaling, and then fell asleep in the temple.

The next morning we woke up at 5:00 am. and hiked up the hill to the big temple on the hill. We sat down, meditated, and looked over the beautiful country from in front of the temple. It was one of the most relaxing and beautiful places I have ever been in my 16 years of life. The birds were chirping, the sun was just cracking the endless horizon. Palm trees, shrubbery, and rice paddies as far as the eye could see. We payed our respects to Buddha, the monks, and the village elders, and walked out, just as we had comeless than 24hours earlier.

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Battambang

Nikhil Mehra,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

The last24 hours have been one of the most experiences of my life. We woke up in our town in Pursat yesterday morning with the intention of catching the 1:00 pm train to Battambang. However, after a language lesson with our leader Mara, we learned that infact the train was broken and because the train […]

Posted On

07/6/08

Author

Nikhil Mehra

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Jun-riep sua!

I am currently posting from Battambang andI would like to share a quick list of some of the more...interesting foods we have came across (and eaten!)

Cricket: We indulged in this crunchy (and suprisingly tasty) snack on the first night. In order to consume this, you have to rip off the wings, legs and head prior to popping it into your mouth. I found that although the small ones were tasty and crunchy, the larger ones were less crunchy and had a slightlyunpleasant taste. I'd rate the taste a 6/10 and the texture a 8/10. All around, a good snack to try.

Duck fetus: This is by a long shot the wierdest thing I have eaten so far. It is essentially a fertilized duck egg which you crack open, revealing a duck! The bones were relatively undeveloped (only the legs were crunchy) so you eat it more or less whole. Wierdest part?It tasted FANTASTIC. The taste is somewhere between egg and duck (not terribly suprising) and the texture was interestingly soft yet pleasant. I'd rate the taste a 10/10 and the texture a 7/10. Filling, but very good.

Cow Brain: The brain is notorious for harboring many diseases (especially in cows) and thus I was VERY displeased when I found out that this was what I was eating.I purchased beef noodle soup for breakfast in Phnom Penh and the meat seemed a little strange. I asked the waitress what it was and she pointed at her calf. I shrugged and assumed it was simply low quality meat...then she said that "normally meat not so good, but for you very good!" and her friends laughed. The folds in the meat made the alarm go off in my head. I'd rate the taste a 6/10 and the texture a 5/10...Just make sure you know you are eating brain.

I have documented all of these findings on film and will later be posting them on Youtube.com. Thanks for reading! Jun-riep-lai!

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Crazy Food!

Oliver Scher,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

Jun-riep sua! I am currently posting from Battambang andI would like to share a quick list of some of the more…interesting foods we have came across (and eaten!) Cricket: We indulged in this crunchy (and suprisingly tasty) snack on the first night. In order to consume this, you have to rip off the wings, legs […]

Posted On

07/6/08

Author

Oliver Scher

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So we're right now in Battambang after having spent two amazing days in Pursat and a small mountain village. Last night we slept in a small wat (Bhuddist temple) in a village where we were the first foreigners ever to visit. It was an amazing experience and we were welcomed with open arms by the monks, the village chief, and the rest of the community. For the last two days we were in Pursat visiting an NGO called Sustainable Cambodia where we visited a school, two pre-schools, and other projects such as biofilters for clean water and a nutrition programme for children. It was a great experience as everyone at Sustainable Cambodia speaks excellent English and we were able to get some insight into the many problems that plague Cambodia.

Tonight and tomorrow we are staying in Battambang and then we are going to Pailin on the Thai border. We will yak-yak as much as we can.

Lorne

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Wat stay

Lorne Schweitzer,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

So we’re right now in Battambang after having spent two amazing days in Pursat and a small mountain village. Last night we slept in a small wat (Bhuddist temple) in a village where we were the first foreigners ever to visit. It was an amazing experience and we were welcomed with open arms by the […]

Posted On

07/6/08

Author

Lorne Schweitzer

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    [post_content] => The first few days have been quite am emergence, never have I learned so much about a place in so little time.  Before the flight I was anxious and unknowing of what was to come. We spent some time in L.A. getting to know one another so I knew I wasn't alone. When I first arrived in China I saw things as being good or bad, and I initially saw many parts of the culture in a negative light. Now I have accepted the culture as being neutrally different and in some ways better than America. The Chinese are extremely warm and try there hardest to please guests to their country. Traffic is crazy, much like being the frog in the game Frogger. When I started my homestay last night I was nervous and quite frankly terrified. Now I know the family better and have gotten used to some of they daily ways. All in all the instructors have been great in forcing us to get out and see what Kunming is like and the more I travel about and learn, the more I like the nation.
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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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First Few Days

Hayden Fownes,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

The first few days have been quite am emergence, never have I learned so much about a place in so little time. Before the flight I was anxious and unknowing of what was to come. We spent some time in L.A. getting to know one another so I knew I wasn’t alone. When I first […]

Posted On

07/2/08

Author

Hayden Fownes

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I realize that on my last Yak Yak I shortchanged myself with the "touch" experience. What I really wanted to say was that the feeling of quick-mud between my toeswhile working out ina rice field was UNBELIEVABLE.

Something about this makes me not feel like a tourist anymore.

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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One More Thing…

Adam Brooks,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

I realize that on my last Yak Yak I shortchanged myself with the "touch" experience. What I really wanted to say was that the feeling of quick-mud between my toeswhile working out ina rice field was UNBELIEVABLE. Something about this makes me not feel like a tourist anymore.

Posted On

07/2/08

Author

Adam Brooks

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First off sorry for the hundreds of spelling mistakes, I have no time to spell check. I amwriting this in aninternet cafe and I am running out of time. So I just spelled things in ways my mom will understand. :)

Upon ariving in Phnom Phen I looked immediatley for every thing that made it different from our own cities. I saw the obvious things first fromthe streets littered wih trash, to a degree seen nowhere in the States, to the rundown feelings of the buildings. It didn't even occur to me to look any deeper than that till I saw the Killing Fields yesterday and really thought about what civil war had meant for Cambodia. Today the city seemed calm and sudilties rose to the surface. I looked once again a the buildings and thought of what a paradise this city most have seemed in the sixties. Amidst the turmoil of 60's Aisa, Cambodia would have been a haven. The beautiful structures and sights of Phenom Phen confirmed this. Then it became clear; the buildings weren't just rundown, they seemed lifeless. It was as if the people livings within the city had become disjointed from the place that they inhabited. I was as though when the city was evacuated so many years ago the vibrance, warmth, and even the soul of the city had been taken away. It seems now that people don't live in their own ctiy but someone else's. They have replaced a people that were, a city that was, and a future that could have been. This new era grows upon the skelton of the deceased past. One thing, however, has survived or maybe it was recently reborn: either way it is clear that it is alive as any person around me. Its hope. Hope seems to fill the gaps of this city, it has begun to heal the wounds of a scared past. I was uncertain about whether Cambodia could hope return to its former glory, return to its gradure, or whether this new era could grow back together with its past and its city. I was wondering this when I saw a truck in front of me campaigning for the elections. When the music played the people cheered: and there it was. This new coinfedence could, I also hope, rebuild this city and heal these people.

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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The City

Julian LeCraw,Cambodia, Summer 2008

Description

First off sorry for the hundreds of spelling mistakes, I have no time to spell check. I amwriting this in aninternet cafe and I am running out of time. So I just spelled things in ways my mom will understand. 🙂 Upon ariving in Phnom Phen I looked immediatley for every thing that made it […]

Posted On

07/2/08

Author

Julian LeCraw

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Sorry, no pictures yet; I am actually posting from a guest house/internet cafe in Phnom Penh as part of a scavanger hunt, and will be brief.

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Perhaps the best way to explain my first few days here would be that I am experiencing Cambodia with all five senses, and so much more. There is sight here (the portraits of the thousands of Khmai who were held captive at prison), sound here (the blaring slogans that come out of passer-by campaign caravans for the upcoming election), taste here (do I have to explain myself? i am quickly falling in love with the cuisine of Cambodia. pictures of me eating crickets are soon to follow), smell here (Durian Fruit, whose smell is inversely repulsive to its delicious taste), and touch here (i'm quickly learning what is appropriate tactile ediquette and what is not).

However, this does not go to explain the latter part of my statement. There is something here that goes far beyond sense. I cannotexactly describeit, but I can confidently say that it is in places like this-- places that on the surface may seem uncomfortable or unfamiliar-- that I feel most comfortable saying such big things. And yes, the feeling is familiar in a way that almost brings me back to myself.

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Cambodia, Summer 2008

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The Words to Say…

Adam Brooks,Cambodia, Summer 2008

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Sorry, no pictures yet; I am actually posting from a guest house/internet cafe in Phnom Penh as part of a scavanger hunt, and will be brief. ————————————————————————- Perhaps the best way to explain my first few days here would be that I am experiencing Cambodia with all five senses, and so much more. There is […]

Posted On

07/2/08

Author

Adam Brooks

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