Saturday, November 2, 2013

cambodia trip 2013

This is going to be long. So many pictures. I tried to narrow it down but there was just so much to see!

Aaron's company, Vivint does a service trip every year. The sales guys donate commission from their sales (plus extra for their wives!) and then Vivint matches that donation to send us off for volunteer work. This year they teamed up with Globe Aware and Cambodia was the destination =) 

Here we are on our plane, without a care in the world, because we are KID FREE. Had we not been able to watch movies nonstop, those flights would have been miserable. We drove our kids to Seattle (Yakima actually), then flew back to SLC, then flew to LA, then to Seoul, South Korea, then to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Long day.

We got to our hotel/hostel, and out our buddies' window was this scene:
A for-real crocodile farm.
Sharing a wall with crocodiles.. Of course.

For the whole trip, we were divided into groups that the guys sold with this past summer. So we hopped in a van with all of them, which took us about this far.. where the water covered the road, and we had to get out and tromp through it. (Cambodia floods a lot)

Then we hopped into boats that took us to the Floating Villages
I'm fascinated by this. 6 months of the year, it's dry season and they can walk on dry land. The other 6 months, it rains a ton and floods, so their houses are up on stilts, and they get around by boats!

All our Vivint group took water filters to the families in the Floating Villages. 
Tons of mothers with babies were there to get their water source for the next year or so.
Here, we also met our Globe Aware coordinators, Philip and Chom. The coolest kids ever. 
 We had our first Cambodian meal at a floating restaurant. SO TASTY. Very similar to Thai food, which is scrumptious. I didn't think it'd be possible to get sick of curry but alas, after rice & curry with every meal, it soon got old.

These pictures pretty much tell it. Gross. Yup we did it. $1 for fish to eat and tickle your feet.

Wat Thmei
The Killing Fields.
This place was a memorial for the genocide in the 70's- The Khmer Rouge
Sad, sad. 

Cambodia is cute. Many men make their living driving tourists around in tuk-tuks.
And with our big group, we were transported to our projects, all stuffed into a van.
PS we had the coolest group. I had only met a few of these guys who sold with Aaron last summer, but it was cool to get to know them better. We were pretty much together ALL day for a whole week but they are fun and hard workers =) It was a blast.

Aaron's facial hair underwent several changes during this trip...

Our first real project: We combined with a couple of other teams and had to shovel out dirt and get it ready to be paved at a drug rehab facility. It was SO. HOT. 
I was soooo glad Crystal came! We were the only girls in our group!

Nightlife: we spent just about every night shopping around the markets for super cheap souvenirs, and got hour massages for $5! The boys learned very quick that those little Cambodian women giving massages are grabby.. and they would happily accept money for being extra grabby if you know what I mean.. ! It was decided that me and Aaron would always remain in the same room ;)

These guys. So funny. They bought fried bugs off the street. And ate them.
I think they enjoyed them too

Dinner with our team.. the boys ordered crocodile pizza. Me and Aaron are too old and unadventurous so we didn't care to try it ;)
But they also had frog legs, kangaroo, I can't even remember what else... It was crazy.

My favorite project during the trip was actually taking supplies, food, and school things to a poor village. Tons of moms and kids just kept trickling in and they were so sweet. It was a struggle for me, really, to see families being raised in such poverty. We took so much food, it seemed, but we knew it was not going to last long. The people were so grateful and kind, but asked if we would please build a school so their children could learn English. I could not hold back the tears! Of anything, knowing English was what could solidify a better future for their kids. I hope that volunteer groups after us can coordinate that.
And check out that precious baby. I wanted to squeeze him! I sure missed my own babies that day too..
The project from hell....
Ughhh this one was hard. 
First off,  we were sent to an artisan shop that wanted us to make a giant puppet (???) for display to attract more tourists. And they wanted it in the shape of an animal we had never heard of.. We had no idea what to do, so they sent us to this school that is run by a kind man who is a landmine victim, and lost his leg. 
The "school" was half-house, half-school, and in reality is just a hut with a leaky thatched roof. They asked us to take off the roof, which needed to be replaced. No problem, we tackled that in the afternoon pouring rain.
It was infested with SPIDERS. I about died. Then more groups came to help, and they wanted us to take down the entire hut, plus a kids house right next to it, which was not only infested with spiders, but most likely fleas and diseases, as he was living literally on garbage. 
It was really sad. But also very gross. 
We knocked it all down, cleaned it all up, and subsequent Vivint groups headed back to build a new one!

Another morning, we were taken to a larger school for some sort of boring meeting. The kids were squirmy, as were we. When it finally ended, some music turned on, the kids took out all the chairs, and suddenly it turned into a dance party! 
Some of those kids could get down!!

Next project:
We headed to a rehab place for the handicapped (most landmine victims), and had to level out a whole walkway, prep it and then pave it with pavers! THAT was a project. Took us 2 whole days, and we couldn't even finish.
 Here's our assembly line of passing the tiles down. (No equipment made these projects very difficult).

Aaron hard at work!

Pounding in the pavers. We had lots of difficulties.. they really wanted perfection and well, we are not construction workers :/ 
But it ended up looking so nice when it was finished! And now the landmine victims have a paved sidewalk to roll on with their wheelchairs that we built them =)

Awesome picture of our group
Our last day was actually assembling the wheelchairs. We found it humorous that they are built from a plastic lawn chair and bike tires, but those things work so well! 

We got a day off to go see the ancient Buddhist temples!
It was so amazing.

The ruins had trees growing all through them- it was amazing!
We had a blast with the Holkers... us married folk have to stick together =)

The decoration and detail was unreal. It boggles my mind that they could build this with such limited resources, so long ago.

If you've ever seen old King and I with Yul Brenner, you might recognize these costumes =)
Traditional Cambodian clothing

Where's Waldo? Haha

Elephants! I wanted to ride em so bad... but they were all reserved =( boo

Monkeys! They were hilarious, and feisty.

Our final night, all of the Vivint group had a fancy dinner together. Aaron and Stevie enjoyed sporting their matching mustaches hehe
A last picture with our awesome Globe Aware guides. They were so fun. We just wanted to pack em up with us and bring them home. Their English was awesome.. they have good futures ahead of them
We ended up getting another coordinator the final day, Rata. She was really sweet. And with that, we took off to the airport for a long trip home!

Such an amazing trip. It was so neat to see a part of Asia and to be introduced to a new culture and language and people. Cambodians are amazing.
 photo stephanie-sig_zpse9faeb59.jpg

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