We took a trip to Siem Reap so that the girls from the safe shelter could see the cultural epicentre of Cambodia and to enable them to understand more of their heritage. None of the girls had ever been before and we paid for their stay using some of the money raised from Global Giving. It was clear from all their faces that they enjoyed themselves!
We arrived in Siem Reap at 3pm and checked into the two guesthouses where we were staying. Thirty-six of us went on the trip and we were all excited to discover the wonderful city. After we had settled in, we went to the Phnom Bakheng Mountain to watch the sunset and to have dinner on the hilltop.
The next morning we woke up early to visit the beautiful Phnom Kulen Mountain and waterfall. The mountain has a major symbolic importance for Cambodians, as it was the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire. The line of market stalls led to the impressive stairs heading up the mountain, with beautiful statues on either side. Once at the top there were many statues and areas of worship, it seemed very majestic especially as there were local musicians playing traditional Cambodian music. We took off our shoes and hiked up the final staircase to see the giant Buddha and spectacular views of the area. Many people lit incense and encircled the giant Buddha, to pay their respects and reached out to touch his face.
After this visit we went back down the stairs and across to the waterfall for lunch. The waterfall was lively with people splashing about and playing in the water. We ate lunch by some temple ruins and enjoyed a swim afterwards.
We then drove back down the mountain and towards Siem Reap to visit the wonderful temple of Banteay Srei. This temple is renowned for some of the most exquisite carvings of all the temples and it definitely did not disappoint. It also has a lovely hue as it was mainly formed out of red sandstone. Returning to the hostel, we prepared dinner and had a well-deserved rest. We enjoyed the facilities of the hostel, playing pool and a large game of hide-and-seek.
Bright and early on Thursday we went straight to visit Angkor Wat to take advantage of the cooler air and to beat the mid-morning rush of tourists. The temple was magnificent and we walked all around, taking in the atmosphere. We climbed right to the top for the breath-taking view and well-preserved statues. Many of the statues around the temples are headless due to periods of raids and looting. However, Angkor Wat has been preserved well and it is a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on the national flag. We enjoyed an ice-cream after the temple and got back on the bus.
We drove to the West Baray Lake to enjoy lunch in the lovely huts on the lakefront. We then went for a lovely swim with rubber rings and we could barely get the girls to leave when it was time to get back on the bus.
We then headed back to Phnom Penh with some very satisfied and sleepy customers. The trip was wonderful and incredibly successful. It would not have been possible without your support and it is definitely something the girls will not forget for a very long time.
To donate money to the girls’ safe shelter at CWDA, please follow this link: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/safe-shelter-cambodia/ to donate in dollars, or http://www.globalgiving.co.uk/projects/safe-shelter-cambodia/ to donate in pounds sterling.
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Khan Makara 7,