Editor's note: Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy (NELA) students are now traveling in Cambodia, experiencing brand new adventures and a completely different cultural lifestyle. Follow along as they feed elephants, watch sunrises and taste new foods.
May 16, 2010, from Katrina (a student):
Greetings from the lovely group here in Cambodia! Katrina here to let ya’ll know just what is going down. We are all having quite the amazing time. I am sure you have already heard much of what has already been said. Any who I will inform you that just recently we have accomplished much of the shopping for souvenirs in the night neon market of Siam Reap and many of us were given the opportunity to get an array of massages. Fantastic varieties of massages were offered… even a fish massage. Sounds wild, but some of us were interested in seeing what it might be like. These fish were actually alive and the dead skin on our feet was their dinner.
We are our way to Battambang, we stopped at the “Killing Caves”, yet another Khmer Rouge mass execution site. Studying about the recent history of the country is so fascinating and brings up much discussion about ethics. Tomorrow we are off to begin our project for the orphanage! Our hotel is brand new and is totally amazing. Swimming pool, fitness center and spa! Poverty by day and luxury by night…. quite a paradox.
However, as of now I am completely occupied and distracted by Cambodia and everything that is going on here and I would like to swim in the pool with everyone else before time is up.
May 13, 2010, from David (a student):
Just wanted to give you a quick update from Cambodia. You've probably gotten some messages from Mr. Haggerty, but I wanted to give you an email anyway. So far we have met elephants, irrawaddy dolphins, and monkeys, and have toured genocide sites and temples and are headed to Angkor Wat tommorow. We should be there after a day of travel. The food, as predicted, is amazing and we have tried some new things, including spiders, local varieties of fish and vegetables, and they have better fruit here then in the States.
May 13, 2010, from Bryce (a student):
Our trip in Cambodia has been incredible thus far. The past two days have been spent both traveling to and adventuring in Siam Reap. With an economy based on tourism this city is by for the most modern and travel friendly in the Cambodia. We woke around 4:00 this morning and gathered in the front lobby. Soon after, four Tuk Tuks pulled up one by one on the street. We climbed aboard four to a driver and traveled through the almost deserted city. The traffic became more heavy as we approached the site as many tourists arose before sunrise to beat the heat and the crowds. The suns light was just barely peering over the horizon and Angkor Wats silhouette emerged. The moment was spectacular and as we approached the structure in dimly lit darkness we found it to only be the front gate. Just behind was the temple standing higher and wider. We sat in front on the temple lawn-a marvel in itself, and watched the sun raise over the Cambodian jungle canopy.
The rest of the day could not compare to the inspiring phenomena we witnessed at dawn but we saw many more great structures including Angkor Tohm, an entire city built by the empire. Later in the day we saw Jungle Temple which you may notice in the movie Tomb Raider. After our spectacular yet exhausting morning we relaxed in the hotel, shopped in the market and a few students got massages.
Tomorrow we are off to our five day stay at the Rustic Pathways Orphanage Project in Battambang. We are going to brainstorm what kind of service project we want to undertake. Perhaps a chicken coup????
Thanks again for empowering us to have this experience!
May 10, 2010, from Sarah (a student):
The other day we all went to an elephant camp for the day by Vietnam in Mando Cury where we experienced an intense hike that was worth it. We were going through the jungle with our guide Jack looking for 1 of the 7 elephants that live there. We hiked for about 45 minutes up and down hills and finally met up with one of the elephants at a stream. A few minutes later we had 6 elephants surronding us. We brought some watermelons and and bananas with us to feed them and it was interesting. The elephant would put it's trunk out and we would hand them the food.
After hiking back to the main camp we ate lunch and went out again to go swimming in a waterfall. The water was perfect and everybody was jumping in, but we had to leave the waterfall early because of a possible storm.
After our adventure at the elephant camp we drove to Kartie where we are right by the Mekong River. We all studied about the dolphins called the irrawaddy that are nearly extinct so we took a boat ride onto the river to look at the dolphins. They were hard to see because the water was thick so all we saw was their top fins.
Later that day we went to another Buddhist temple that had at least 300 stairs but the paintings were magnificent and told stories. In the temple there were nuns which are girl monks for the most part. Tomorrow we are going to travel to Siem Reap where the tourist industry, aka Angkor Wat, is based.
Thanks for helping us have this awesome experience.