My name is Victoria Brett and I was awarded a grant from the Holywood Trust which aided greatly towards funding for my trip to Cambodia.
The team flew out on the 3rd July 2018; after 19 hours travelling and covering 6,198 miles we arrived safely in Cambodia. During my visit, I had an incredible experience, where I was able to embrace and learn about a culture far different from my own in Scotland.
The main reason for travelling to Cambodia was to partake in a service project working in a school located in a small village called Treak, situated outside Siam Reap, which we cycled 4 miles to and from each day. The school was not state funded and was created to provide children from the lowest income families the opportunity to learn English. This was a truly eye-opening experience where I was given the opportunity to be a teaching assistant in 3 classrooms, running a variety of activities. Our Girl Guide team also put on a Scottish day where we were able to run highland dancing, highland games activities, songs and arts & crafts. I was amazed to see how grateful the children were for simple things we take for granted each day. We also left them many donations including arts supplies, tooth brushes, reward stickers, paper, glue sticks, pens etc. to assist in their education and understanding of English.
We also met with the Girl Guiding Association of Cambodia where we were welcomed with open arms and given the chance to learn about their girl guiding movement. We played some of their local games and taught them some of our games from Scottish culture. The interaction between the two guiding associations enhanced our understanding of the Buddhist culture and values, such as taking your shoes of when entering a building. Cambodian culture is based on the Buddhist monasticism religion, when greeted by a Cambodian they always place their hands together and bow their heads this is known as the Namaste gesture, these are just some of the cultural references we saw.
On our days off we were able to enjoy a few typical tourist activities, visiting the Angkor Wat temple and seeing the magical experience of an amazing sun rise. There were many remarkable buildings to see which we could enjoy from the comfort of our tuk-tuk.
We also visited a local floating village built on stilts to overcome the effects which could occur due to extreme rain fall that they can encounter in Cambodia. This village ran on the old traditions of barter and trade due to the extreme poverty within the village. In one of the pictures you will notice power lines, but due to the impending presidential election during the time we were there, for propaganda reasons, the power was turned off and this had been the case for an incredible 8 months.
Furthermore, one of the last highlights from our time in Cambodia was taking a visit to the Mondulkiri Project, it is an elephant sanctuary which gives 5 elephants the right to walk freely around the forest. After travelling on a cockroach infested night bus and breaking down on route for 4 hours, we eventually arrived in Mondulkiri where we then headed to the heart of the jungle for what proved to be a once in a life time adventure; feeding 5 beautiful elephants, sleeping in hammocks and eating from bamboo which was food that was prepared, cooked and dished out all from a large bamboo stick.