After a busy week of volunteering, we got a bit of relaxation time this past weekend to explore a bit of what Kampot has to offer. We started off Saturday morning with a Solaid meeting–giving feedback on our experience with the organization and our thoughts on how to improve. It was great getting to give suggestions and discuss different projects underway with the organization. In the afternoon, Dr. Budd took us to a few spots around Kampot. First, we were off to visit Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple. The temple is located within the cave so we had to hike to the top of the caves to find a little temple just inside. A few locals came with us then asked us if we’d like to climb through the caves–although we were a bit weary about where we were actually going, we decided to go for it! The caves were extremely dark and dusty which wasn’t a good mix for the sweat that was already dripping off of my body. But we climbed down, down, and down through the cave to the bottom to exit–fortunately we were all safe despite the questionable conditions! After the cave, we stopped by the hospital to follow up on our patient there. We have visited everyday and the couple is so grateful to see us–it is quite remarkable just how much presence can mean sometimes. Despite the language barrier, we certainly enjoy visiting and seeing the elderly man get stronger each day. As I was just one of the two students to initially take the elderly man and his wife into the hospital, the wife has taken a comfort with me and greets me everyday with a hug… its quite a beautiful thing and I’m really going to miss them when the man is released from the hospital (hopefully tomorrow or the next day). We also did a bit of souvenir shopping before stopping by the market in Kampot. The market is Walmart-esk in a sense that the market has anything and everything you could want… but everything is sold by different vendors and the hygiene differs greatly between the two. For instance, I found it amusing that a woman was fanning the meat which was sitting out in the open to try to keep flies off of the meat… different standards for sure! The market was also very short–great for Cambodians and myself but not so great for the other people in my group as they had to duck as they walked through the entire market–quite an amusing sight! We also visited the old, abandoned train station.
On Sunday, the four of us headed to Kep (via a tuk tuk)–a small town situated on the ocean. We saw the main attractions in Kep (a few statues and a market–nothing too crazy) before hiring a boat to take us to a nearby island called Rabbit Island. The island certainly reminded me of Gilligan’s Island as the island seemed to be deserted and isolated… this made for a nice, relaxing day as there were probably fifty total people on the island (more than half of which were workers). We grabbed a hut near the ocean and I rented an inner tube for a dollar before hitting the water. The ocean water was much cooler than it was in nearby Phu Quoc which we all really appreciated. The day was quite relaxing as we simply bobbed up and down with the waves, enjoying the nice breeze in such a beautiful place. Although I would have been content staying for weeks, we had to head back to Kampot. If you know me at all, you know that I’m willing (and wanting) to try whatever! Well, I’ve been wanting to ride a motobike for a few weeks now (basically the entire time that we’ve been in Southeast Asia) and I figured this would be the safest place to do it as I’ll be in busy cities the rest for the rest of my trip. So, I was off on a mission to find a motobike. It wasn’t hard at all to find a motobike and fortunately I was able to find an automatic! So I hired the motobike for two hours and paid a solid $3 for lots of enjoyment and fun. I rode all over the town and explored all of Kampot. The motobike was easier to handle than what I was expecting and I’ve already informed my parents that I’ll be looking to get my motorcycle license when I get home (and then take my mom’s out for a spin!).
Today was more of an admin day as we worked on some excel files for keeping track of heights and weights along with a multitude of other side projects. Of course we visited our dear friend at the hospital who is growing stronger each and every day! We also visited a health center where all patients must visit before being referred to the hospital where they can see a doctor. Let’s just say–it’s better to not get sick here in Cambodia! In the afternoon, we were back teaching English at a nearby school. The students must have practiced their song from last time (“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) as they all had the song memorized and perfected… to say the least, we were blown away! We sang a few other songs and played a few days before the class period was over. After dinner, we were able to take a boat cruise from our guesthouse which took us down the river to see fireflies and phosphorous plankton in the river which lit up at night–it was a beautiful night out for a boat ride anyways so it was a fabulous night.
We have just a few days left here in Kampot before our CURA trip is officially over. Fortunately we have a bit of extra, fun travel time before the group heads home and I head to Thailand–so look for many more adventures to come! Hope all is well!