Cambodian Adventure by Samantha Graham
Last year I travelled to Cambodia and was lucky enough to call it my home while I worked as a kindergarten teacher in Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh was a great place to be based as it has easy transport links to the rest of the country. Phnom Penh is a beautiful (but very busy!) city, where even crossing the road can be an adventure.
A must see in Phnom Penh is the Killing Fields and S21 Museum, a heart-breaking reminder of their recent history under the Khmer Rouge. Despite its tragic past, Cambodia is now such a welcoming country, where everybody is wearing a smile.
After a week of teaching, I spent my weekends exploring. One of my favourite trips was to the Mondulkiri Project, an elephant sanctuary in Saen Monourom. The sanctuary cares for three elephants in a huge area of the jungle, just for them.
Our day started with a short jungle trek, loaded with hundreds of bananas, to find the elephants. We were able to get right up close to spend time feeding them and watching them enjoy their surroundings. We later found the elephants playing in the waterfall, where we got in to wash them and feed them even more bananas. It was a real once in a lifetime experience to spend the day with these amazing animals.
Another huge tick off my bucket list was to visit the temples of Angkor Wat. We hired a tuk tuk driver for the day and chose to do the short tour. We arrived to Angkor Wat in darkness and waited for the sun to rise, and it was breath-taking!
After exploring Angkor Wat we continued on to Ta Prohm and Bayan temple. Each temple is different, but just as stunning as the last. Ta Prohm has giant trees and roots growing around and through the walls, and Bayan temple has huge faces carved into every pillar. We spent the whole day in amazement at how beautiful this place is, no wonder it has been named the 8th wonder of the world!
Khmer New Year took place during my trip, in April. New Year is the biggest celebration in Cambodia and lasts three days. At school at the teachers threw a party, and the students taught us traditional songs and games. After school finished for the holidays I travelled to Siem Reap to celebrate with the locals. Water fights are a big part of the celebrations, and children lined the streets with their water guns. At night Pub Street turned into the biggest water fight I have ever seen, with baby powder being thrown everywhere. The night ended covered in gloopy baby powder, but we had the best time!
We ended our time in Cambodia with a trip to Sihanoukville, where there are perfect white sand, blue sea beaches. A great end to a jam-packed trip!
Happy Khmer New Year!