My time in Phnom Penh ended on an extremely high note because I got invited to go to an Eco-Tourism site with Drew, his friend Mike and nine of the college students attending and helping with the three schools where I taught. It was absolutely fantastic! We loaded up in a big van and strapped six mountain bikes on top so the kids could learn how to ride on trails, plus Mike was going to ride in a mountain bike race on Sunday.
We drove about three hours outside of the city and ate lunch (I had gotten food poisoning the night before so I didn't end up eating) but then went on a really cool hike and mountain bike ride through the jungle to the most gorgeous waterfall in all of Cambodia, one of the best I've ever seen. It was so much fun to see city kids getting dirty and not caring if they're soaked and muddy, they're having the time of their lives scrambling over rocks and taking a waterfall shower. They had such a blast with the bikes and were so good at sharing or giving each other rides on the bikes.
After learning how the local people preserved the area and wanted to provide homestays for tourists, therefore making an income and conserving the natural beauty of the area we went to our homestay, one large hut for the girls and one for the boys. We all laughed and got changed and headed back to the park for dinner then all fell asleep exhausted from the long hike (about 3 kilometers).
The next morning we were up early and in the van to drive to the mountain bike race. It was great, the kids all got to ride the bikes around and the girls learned how to make flower headbands we all wore around. We rode around or walked to a river crossing point on the race trail where the kids could explore some more and really listen to the quiet of the area. We had so much fun cheering on all the racers and playing in the stream.
It was so cool to hang out with the students and get to know them more and connect so much with them even if most of the time they were speaking Khmer, we definitely had a ridiculously fun time together. It was also nice to get to know Drew more and ask him questions about Village Earth and his plans and life in Cambodia. I'm so grateful to had this opportunity!
Chiaho, Chiet and Chantha, some of the students
Pivahn with the homestay family's baby
Playing in the waterfall
Almost to the waterfall!
Playing in the river