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September 21st 2018

Travelling: Cambodia and Laos 2018

This summer, nineteen girls from Years 10-13 embarked on an adventure of a life time to Cambodia and Laos. Read on to hear all about the trip from PE teacher, Miss Brooks.

It was a trip the students had been preparing for over the last 18 months – from fundraising to planning their dream itinerary - and all the hard work paid off.  A rewarding and breath-taking experience with many highs, some tears (joyful ones), amazing food and the chance  to see one of the seven Wonders of the World – Angkor Wat.

We started our journey in Phnom Penh, where we spent two days for orientation, which included organising our budget, and booking accommodation, trips and travel for the expedition ahead. We visited the ornate temples, the S21 Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields. It was an emotional and heart wrenching day. However, it gave us all an insight into the sad history of the Cambodian people. The teams coped extremely well and said they were glad they visited.

We then travelled to Chi Phat by bus and boat, amid beautiful scenery, to our home stays, before trekking and sleeping in the jungle in hammocks in open area shelters. The trek was hard and extremely wet, as we had to walk through rivers, but it was great fun! We learnt very quickly how to cope with spiders, snakes, scorpions and the many leeches.

We then travelled to Siem Reap, and spent the day visiting the unique floating villages, which lined the shores of Tonlé Sap. We learnt about the unique eco-system of the lake and how the way of life is deeply intertwined with the wildlife and the cycles of rising and falling waters. We saw first-hand how the local people live, and visited a local school, which we all loved - a great day. We took the locals advice to see Angkor Wat during sunrise, as it was meant to be a spectacular sight - and they were not wrong. Beautiful and breathtaking, the reflections of the temples on the river were stunning, and the trees intertwined with the stone was incredible. We even saw the temple where Tomb Raider was filmed, a real treat for those of us who were fans. Again, another fun- packed day.

We then crossed the border into Laos, which took 12 hrs by bus. This was a grueling day, with lots of rice cakes and singing to keep our spirits up. On arrival we visited the beautiful 4,000 Islands on the Mekong River for much needed R&R, before moving on to Savannakhet to start a four day Tansoum Eco-tourism and Community Project. We were all really looking forward to this phase of our expedition and excited to get stuck into teaching English at the local school, experiencing village life and building the wall that surrounded the school. The locals taught us how to make cotton, weave cloth, harvest rice and make local dishes such as sticky rice wrapped in banana leafs. We also made hats, animals and balls out of palm leaves, and even learnt how to fish! We had a very emotional farewell celebration at the end of our stay. The whole community came to say goodbye and the school children ran after our bus waving. There were many tears from us as we said our goodbyes, to our now good friends - it will be a time that none of us will forget.

Finally, we travelled to Vientiane in order to fly back to the UK. As we did so well with budget management throughout the expedition, we were able to spend our final night in a 4* hotel (extreme luxury for us!) with a pool. Our last supper on the expedition was a well-earned three course meal together to celebrate and recount memories of our amazing trip together. It was the perfect night to end on.

Written by Mrs L Brooks, PE

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