Monday, April 30, 2012

A Life Altering Trip to Cambodia

By Banu Priya, Year 3, Diploma in Nursing

There are certain affluent countries with people who enjoy living in luxury, but on the other hand, Cambodians are content to live simply. NYP gave students like us an opportunity to experience Cambodia through the eyes of the locals with the YEP (Youth Expedition Project).

The YEP project was held in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. We went to Phnom Penh first and stayed there for 13 days. Each day just got better due to two reasons, firstly our team became more united and secondly we were contributing to making the Andong village school a nicer place. Here’s what we did.

Reconstructing Their Playground
Illustration 1: The first step was to scrap off the old layer of paint. We wore masks and hats to protect ourselves from the dust. Scraping required some hard work from our side. But we managed to pull through as a team.
Illustration 2: After scraping off the old layer of paint we laid a foundation layer called primer paint. This was to increase the durability of the paint.

This is the picture of the playground once it was completed. The children came rushing to it and thoroughly enjoyed playing in their newly refurbished playground. All the YEP team members were extremely happy and satisfied as our hard work had paid off and the results were the smiles on the children's faces.

Foundation for flagpole
Illustration 3: Using the shovel to dig up the ground was hard work!

Illustration 4: Both students and the school children worked hand in hand to shift the sand to the flagpole area. This teamwork bonded us to the kids and made our work much more enjoyable :)

Illustration 5: This is the completed foundation of the flagpole. As much as we wanted to complete the flagpole, there wasn’t enough time for us. We had to leave the rest of the construction to Cambodian workers who would be supervised by the school.

Illustration 6: There were many times where the children clung onto us out of affection and love. There were many touching moments like these which melted our hearts. It gave us the drive to work harder to provide a better environment for these children.

Illustration 7: This picture was taken after the playground was completed. We enjoyed our remaining time playing with the kids.

Illustration 8: Apart from refurbishing their playground and constructing the foundation for their flagpole we also taught them English for an hour during the weekdays. We taught them according to their class levels, which were classified as elementary, intermediate and expert level.

Of course during our 13 days we not only worked hard but we went shopping and sight seeing as well. Here are a few popular sights in Cambodia!

Illustration 9: This is a picture of the Central Market. It’s something like Bugis Street where everything is bargainable. It’s possible to purchase popular brands at really affordable prices and that’s why this place is a popular tourist attraction.

 Illustration 10: This is the royal palace. This is where the king resides. It is really big and beautiful and there are many Buddha statues inside. Thousands of Cambodians and tourists come to see this palace and worship the Buddha. There are also certain dress code restrictions, and we weren't allowed to wear anything above the knee or wear revealing clothes.

Illustration 11: On one of the days, we went on a boat ride along Mekong river. The journey took about an hour. Along the river, we saw some fishermen, their floating houses, and much more.

Illustration 12: This is one of the floating houses along the Mekong river. It can be bought or rented for holiday purposes as it has a spectacular view of the river!

Before we left Andong village school we hosted a farewell dinner for the children and staff. We cooked local delicacies like Chicken Curry, Roti Kirai, Konyaku jelly and Jembut Jembut (made of banana). This was to give them a feel of Singapore and share with them our culture. We also showed them a video made of photos that we took with them and the great times we shared.

Teaching these kids was indeed a pleasure as they really appreciated what we had done for them. On our last day at Andong village school, many of the children that we taught gave us farewell gifts with really sweet messages inside.


Illustration 13: Children savoured our local delicacies and ate to their heart's content. It was really satisfying to see that our food was well received and some even came for second rounds, which made us happier.

This is the Centre of Peace orphanage. Over here we had a project whereby we taught the kids about personal hygiene. One of the things we taught them was how to comb out their hair lice. We played games with these kids as well to keep them entertained.

After 13 days in Phnom Penh it was time to venture to the next state - Siem Reap. In Siem Reap we volunteered at Teabanh Komrou Primary School. We helped to paint the anterior of the school. Though we spent a shorter time in this school than Andong village school, we still managed to build rapport with the children through various games. These children were more reserved and were a little hesitant to talk to us initially but we eventually broke that communication barrier.



In Siem Reap one of the biggest tourist attractions is the Angkor Wat. Built in the 12th century it is a historical site that is preserved till today. The buildings are simply spectacular and the architecture was outstanding. Here are a few pictures of Angkor Wat.

Illustration 15: This is the exact spot where Tomb Raider the movie was shot. It was a really cool experience to take a picture where Angelina Jolie had once been :)

In conclusion this YEP project taught us to appreciate what we have here in Singapore. In Cambodia water is plentiful but their water system is frequently interrupted, whereas in Singapore we get uninterrupted water supply thanks to our efficient water system.

I have also learnt to be more patient when the train in Singapore takes a little longer to arrive. This is because in many parts of Cambodia, there isn’t even a public transportation system. I have thus realised how fortunate we are to be Singaporeans.
We also learnt more about the Cambodian culture, food, heritage and so much more. I thoroughly enjoyed this 18 days and I would strongly encourage every NYPian to take up a YEP project if they have the opportunity.

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Banu Priya enjoys artwork like drawing and painting. She also likes to read and write. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and participating in SHS Academic Club activities, which give her a sense of satisfaction. She also loves to shop and travel.

1 comment:

  1. Great Blog! All the pictures are beautiful but I liked Illustration 12: the floating houses along the Mekong River the most. Enjoy stay.

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