CAMBODIA

Welcome to the Kingdom of Cambodia.

this is the first kingdom I have ever been in.

I will keep updating on Cambodia so please scroll down to see the newest updates as I post them every few days. This page will look the same when you log on but scroll down to see when I added more. 

Cambodia is a small South East Asia Country bordering Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The Capitol is Phnom Penh. Before going to the place where Mom will be teaching English we wanted to explore the Capitol.  I got to visit the Royal Palace.

Fun Fact: The Royal Palace, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is a complex of buildings which serves as the royal residence of the king of Cambodia

imageimageThe Royal  palace was very impressive with its amazing architucture.  Unlike the palaces you see in the movies this one had a bunch of different buildings.  Each building served a different purpose.  Some are for meeting and shows and others are for living and eating, some are for displaying things, some for burial of ashes .  I did not get to see the building where the Royal Famliy lives because that is private.  The roofs of all the buildings were very pointy.

image  One room I liked had a bunch of statues.  The statues were carved from the ancient people of Cambodia.  I found it cool that they were made from SOLID GOLD, silver and jade.  There must of been about 200 statues in this room.  There were statues of mostly Buddah.  A lot of the statues had diamonds in them, there were over 6000 diamonds and one 25 karet diamond.  Some if the statues were bigger then me and others were the size if my hand.  We were not allowed to take pictures in this room.  By the way the WHOLE floor of this room was made of pure silver tiles.  I wonder how long it took to build this, and where did they get all this gold , silver and jade from?   The Royal Palace was cool, I wonder how the Royal kids like living there? I personally wouldn’t like it. imageBuddist Monks are boys that go to school to learn about religion and enlightenment.  They wear orange robes.  The monks have a lot of rules that they have to follow while they are in the monestary. I researched the rules..  image

RULES OF THE MONKS

Only boys are allowed. Most boys in Cambodia go into the Monestary or school at least once in their lives. Usually for a year. Then they go back into their old life. A monk can be any age!  Monks have to keep a simple life, they are not allowed to use luxury items (beds or chairs or drive) or electronics or TV. They only can receive their food early in the morning until noon from going out in the villages and cities collecting “alms” (which are donations of food, water and medicine from people). Lots of people give food , so do restaurants that donate to the school.   They are not allowed to talk to women unless a man is there also. They can not sleep in the same room as another boy for more than 3 days at a time.

I saw Monks walking in Phenom Phen city and at the Royal Palace also.

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These are photo’s of Street life in Phenom Penh. This is Sawyer riding in  a Tuk-Tuk. Which is how we got around all the time. They are motorbikes with attached cart that fits 4 people in it.  Rides are $1 or $2 around town.  Motorbikes are everywhere!!!imageimageimage

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CPOC Center:  Center for Poor and Orphaned Children

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Located an hour form Phnom Penh in a very rural part of Cambodia is the CPOC center. Founded in 2012 by Mr. Kim… this is a place for poor and orphaned children to live.  I interviewed Mr. Kim and he told me all about the center. image

If the Family is too poor or has no parents  to care for the child they can come here for a while. 12 children ages 8-17 are here now.   They go to the local school also. The Center is also a place where ALL the children from the Village can come to learn ENGLISH for free . Many families take advantage of these free lessons , taught by volunteers!  This is where Mom taught classes at 9am, 1pm, and 5pm.

imageMr, Kim is a very smart man to start this Center. He is working on another center 50 Kilometers from CPOC to help kids in another village too.  I  learned about his life and how he really loves the kids here. It was Mr. Kim who arranged for us to come to the CPOC center, he arranged a ride and everything for us.  We are one of the first “Families” to come here with children. So this was very exciting for us and for the kids living here.

The kids go to school at all different hours of the day. Some as early as 6am some late in the afternoon.  Village kids are sent here by their parents for free English lessons . Some kids don’t go to school when there is work to be done in the rice fields. Especially the boys.  This happened during the first week here, many kids missed school because the fields needed to be tended to.  Kids walk or ride  bikes everywhere. There are rice fields surrounding the village and small family owned shops selling fruit or food items.   The living conditions are basic.  There is little fresh water. The drinking water is imported from the city in huge plastic containers for drinking only and for brushing teeth. (not showering). There are chickens, ducks, pig, turkeys, and Oxen all over this area.  The shower water (if you want to call it that ) is the river water. Most bathing is done in the river and the toilet situation is a “squatty potty” that ALL 12 children share.   Despite all of this…It is a fantastic place… Volunteers come here for anywhere from a day at a time to months at a time.  We met 2 volunteers from Holland who have been here 3 months already and 1 from Italy who is planning a month stay. We arrived the same day with 2 girls from Israel also.

Please go to this website to read and see video’s about the CPOC center.

http://www.cpocfoundation.com/

There is so much to say on the CPOC center but I will only give the highlights….

I really like playing soccer with the kids from the center and the village kids. We play 2 hours a day. We scrimmage . Some of the boys are very good players.  None of the girls play, but they like wearing the jerseys. Girls would stand and watch ME play with all the boys, they weren’t used to that in Cambodia, the idea of girls playing football (soccer) was unusual.  I told them how I play on an all girls team in the USA.

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I would like to say thanks to everyone on Smithtown and Stony Brook  soccer teams who donated these jerseys.  The kids really liked them and there was enough for 2 or 3 jerseys  each. Now they have real uniforms!!!! First time ever. We shipped a box from New York before we left on our trip with Pens, notebooks, school supplies and 30 shirts.

Some photos from the Center.

imageimageA typical house in the Village. imageThey didn’t have TV, but they had a VCR with Cambodian Movies to watch.  imagethe Cambodian people are small. A typical 13 year old boy looks like 9 or 10.  We were very TALL children here.  The boys in this class are 10 (except the little guy who Sawyer is helping, he is 5 yrs old…seriously….!!!IMG_1751image        imageMom helping to prepare the Vegetables while Dad helped clear the garden and do some raking around the center.imageTeaching kids about Continents. imageThe River , which we used to play in and cool off.  Before dinner dad would take kids to the river and throw them  they loved it!!!image

imageHere we all are watching a movie on a laptop computer. It was an American Movie in English with the subtitles in Khamer so the kids understood.

Mom volunteered  to teach at the school in the center.  She taught English to all  kids of different ages.  She taught the little kids numbers, colors, and how to introduce themselves in English.   She taught the older kids about the Continents and Oceans and Geography.   I help out in the morning lessons. I went to school at 12:30 (more on that later)

The river was fun.  I like having a splash fight with all the kids.  From the pictures you might think that it looked disgusting.  and it probably was. I go in the river 2 times a day because it is so hot and I had to cool off.

imageThese girls are 13 and I went to school with them.  I followed the girl standing next me, Mania, in her classes.  The girl, Nary, in the yellow shirt is my friend, she invited me to sleep in the girls room and she speaks good enough English. I gave her a lot of my clothes and we gave out 25 Rainbow Loom Bracelets Sawyer and I made before we left. They were a big hit. Each kid wearing 3 at a time. image imageHere we are showing how to make English letters in the sand.

My family slept at CPOC in one of the volunteer rooms.  Actually Mom and Sawyer slept outside in the hammocks, Mom said she gets about 2 hours of sleep because the animals are so loud all night.   Dad slept on a mat on the floor with a mosquito net over him. Very basic….image IMG_1103imageimage  IMG_1081This is where Dad slept, his back hurt and he said he didn’t sleep well at all.  There is no screen on these windows either. What the CPOC center needs is decent beds for the volunteers and screens on windows to keep out the flying insects.  Money and time and volunteers are needed for this. If there were decent wood around Tom would have built a make shift bed.  But this has to be ordered in advance.

I was invited to sleep in he girls room because they had room.  the girls room was very small.  It was about the size of a dinning room  that 6 kids had to share with bunk beds.  so don’t complain if you think your room is small.  Everyone gets up at 4:30am and did all there chores! They have 2 main meals a day and that is lunch and dinner. They cook for all the volunteers also. The girls cook the rice and vegetables for each meal.  (I even went with them on a bike to pick up the food).  breakfast is left over rice from the day before (they just put in a Tupperware container) and leave on a shelf.   They have no refrigerator and they prepare the meals and cut the vegetables on a board on the floor. The center has electricity and even spotty wifi connections that work most of the time. imageThese are the Volunteers eating together.

The food was good but there were some bugs crawling on it.  The only snacks are if Volunteers give some (but this is not junk food) only , breads, and ice tea purchased in town.  We brought Nutella and Jelly and shared it with the kids on bread purchased locally. This is me signing the ‘Volunteers’ Wall…IMG_1213

Mom and Dad could not get a good nights sleep at all so we had to explore staying in a guest house in town…not at the center anymore. The guest house has decent shower and toilet and bed.

Stay tuned to see my posts on the Cambodian School I attended.  THE FIRST AMERICAN TO GO TO THIS LOCAL SCHOOL in a Cambodian Village.  I’ll post in a few days**************************************************

I’m sure you been wanting to here about my time in the public Cambodian school.  Well, a girl from the CPOC center named Mleah asked if I wanted to come to school with her.  Of course I said yes.  It was a s simple as that.  If I was a visitor from Cambodia going to a NY school, you would have to call, arrange an appointment, show in ID card go through security, ect….. it would be a whole day process just to arrange a visit.  But here, all you had to do was show up.

All the kids from the center and from the village rode bikes here.  The bikes were kind if old fashion and the brakes didn’t work.  you had to jump off the bike if you wanted to stop.  The bikes didn’t have any gears but that was ok because everything here is flat.   IMG_1843imageThis is the road to school, Mom took this picture one afternoon when she came to visit me at the school.image

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Pictures of me riding my bike to school with all the kids.

You may notice that in the picture I am carrying a backpack.  it is moms and I packed it with pens my journal and a Social Studies workbook I brought along on my trip.  I had to bring something to occupy myself for 5 hours while I  listened to lessons being taught in another language.  The language in Cambodia is “Kamai” it is the language of the Khemer people.

imageThis is typical house I passed on bike ride to school

imageThis is me in front of classroom  it was sweltering hot outside

As I rode my bike to school all the local people looked at me.  Now that I think about it, it must of been pretty funny to see a line of school kids and then this white blond haired kid in the mix.  I can only imagine what the local people thought.  The bike rode to school was 30 minutes long.  I liked looking at all the oxes and the rice fields along the way.  The kids in the school yard noticed me right away.  They all starred whispering to each other and looking at me.  A lot of kids tried to touch me. That is very common around here with foreigners.  It happens to us all the time. Many adults want to touch Sawyer and I.  They always smile when doing so and mean no harm so we just smile back.  Most in this Village have NEVER seen a child from the western part of the world.  Some adults pass by the village but NO children.  So they loved us. Some practice English and ask “how old are you?”  “Where are you from?”

The school yard was filled with bikes.  It was the size of a gym and there were fields and a swing set and jungle gym.  Not much.  There were also vendors outside selling food.

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The school itself was not like the school I go to called Minnesauke.  It was a long building with doors on the outside leading into the classroom.  There was probably 10 classrooms each with 25 kids in them.   Mleah took me to her classroom and sat me down at a desk.  The classroom was kind of like a one room school house.  the desks sat 2 people in them and you did not put your school supplies In them.  You brought what you needed for the day in your backpack.  there was a white board, a desk that the teacher sat in and a couple of posters on the walls and lots of Khamai writing.

Sawyers teacher was absent one day and when the teacher is absent there is NO CLASS for the day.  So the boys just played in the river. image

Once I sat down in the classroom all the kids from outside started pouring in the classroom and crowding around my desk.  There must of been 30 kids in the room and 20 starring at me from the windows.  It was kind of weird to have about 50 kids watching your every move.  I mean,  how would you feel if everyone was silently watching you?  They all wanted to know about me.   I just waved to kids, said hello and flashed a few peace signs.  All the kids said hi to me and asked how old I was.  I found out that most of the kids were 11 and 12.  My age.  The youngest one was 9 and the oldest 13 . All the kids wanted to meet me and I felt like a big celebrity.  They told me there names but it was hard to remember all of them because all the Cambodians kids look the same to me with their uniforms on and the dark hair. If they saw my classroom at home we would all look the same to them too.

Class starred when the teacher got there.  Before the teacher came it was like a zoo! Everyone was screaming and yelling and running around the classroom and schoolyard.  They played games and I joined in.  When the teacher came everyone stood up and bowed there head.  I followed along.  The teacher must of been surprised to see a blond haired kid in the middle of her class.  She didn’t speak that much English but she said hello to me and asked what my name was and how old I was and where I was from.   The teacher brought her baby with her to school!  That would never be allowed in NY but I thought it was cool. She carried the baby around during lessons and then sat him down at times.

You will never believe what the class was learning………..  FRACTIONS! I understood the lesson which is pretty weird considering I didn’t understand the language.  They used English numbers so I could solve one of the problems in my head.  They were multiplying fractions and that’s what my class was teaching when I left.  Mr. Pettrucci and class, if you are reading this I say hello.  Can you please email me.

The class also does silent work in their notebooks.  It was cool to see how they write the Cambodian charachters.  During this time I wrote observations in my journal.  Sometimes  this class was very roudy and was always talking out of turn and fooling around.

Reeces time!!!.  No matter what school or country I’m in I always love reeces.  A lot of the girls did this jump roping game.  Some of the boys were playing soccer with an out of air ball.  I wanted to play but it would be kind of hard to join a game when the kids only know a few words of English.  I stayed by  Mleah and did whatever she did.  because like I said, all the girls  looked alike and they were all wearing the same uniform so I did not want to lose her.  I did the jump roping game and went on the swings and climbed the jungle gym.  I noticed that all the teaches left on a motorbike and went home.  some of the kids were eating lunch that they bought from the vendors.

How many of  you know the game rock, paper, scissors? Well that game is played all around the world!!!!!!!!!! Mleah and some of her friends were playing it and saying the words in Cambodian.  I joined in.  I cant belive that game reached all the way around the world! At one point during reeses I was drawing inside the classroom.  I was copying words from the posters onto a piece of paper.  It was hard because the Cambodians use characters,  kind of like the Chinese language but more squiggily. It must  have been entertaining because all the kids crowded around my desk again. These are Cambodian letters and their sound.  Try saying these letters. I copied them all and learned a few sounds.  I can TOTALLY relate now to a foreigner coming into the USA who cant speak, read or write any English.  I had the reverse here in Cambodia.

It was hard to concentrate with everyone starring at me.  I brought out my SS workbook and showed them a map of the world.  I pointed out where Cambodia was and where I was from in the United States.  They loved this.

One  day mom came on a motor bike to visit.  she took these pictures.

image image imageimage Even in the pictures you can see the kids starring at me.  it was like this everywhere I went.  it was kind of funny.

As you can see I had a great time going to the local school.  It was an experience I will never forget.  I can also relate now to a new kid who enters school in the USA and how difficult it must be for them.    I’m so glad I had a chance to go.  It was cool to see a different way of school and living at the CPOC  center.

I enjoyed meeting everyone in this part of Cambodia. Their lives are completely different from mine.  Here is an interesting fact :

Cambodia

In Cambodia the average income is about $950 per year. Eighty-percent of the population lives in the countryside, and fifty-seven percent of the labour force is engaged in agriculture, which is dependent on the monsoon rains and irrigation from the Mekong River. In recent years the timing of the spring and fall monsoons has become more sporadic and unpredictable, making rain fed rice growing more risky due to prolonged drought periods.
Cambodia is a very poor country relative to the USA.  It is what we call
“third world” country.  Prices seem very cheap to us, but it is expensive for them. If you shop and eat locally and NOT in the tourist hotels, you can stay for little money here.
 For example. buying from street venders of local grocery . (money  been converted to US money so you understand)
Loaf of bread:  10 Cents
Bottle of water: 10 Cents
plate of rice and vegetable: 50 cents
Bicycle:  $5-10
new shirt:  $2, pants $2, socks 50 cents
One hour massage:  $5
fruit (pinapple 20 cents) banana bunch 30 cents, local fruit even cheaper
Renting a top notch apartment with laundry, pool, air conditioning, kitchen in the capital of Phenom Phen. $30 per night.
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Here are photos of our apartment when we stayed in Phenom Phen.
If you have any questions about Cambodia or any part of my travels, feel free to email me at     rileymeckley@yahoo.com