On Friday and Saturday, students fanned out around central and south Cambodia for village/town studies, taking two- to four-hour trips by bus or van to designated locations in a 150-kilometer radius around Phnom Penh. The intent was to prepare them for heading out for their service assignments this coming Friday.
Groups went to the following locations:
- Jacob M, Corey, and Sara K went to Takeo, the primary silk-weaving area of Cambodia, located about two hours south of Phnom Penh. They enjoyed some relaxed time at their guesthouse overlooking a lake.
- Nate, Carina, and Madeleine went back to Kep, somewhat accidentally after their van took them down Highway 3 rather than Highway 4. Their first 15-passenger van had 32 passengers in it, so Carina and Madeleine sat on a plank hanging out the back of the van. They picked up two other vans before they landed in Kep, where we had taken our natural world field trip last weekend.
- Brett, Jessie, Henry, and Renae went to Kampong Cham, northeast of Phnom Penh, a town near where Henry and Renae will live on service. Among the highlights were climbing 120 feet to the top of a French colonial period-tower in the center of the town, riding on an ox car pulled by a motorcycle, going to a roller disco rink, and — for Henry and Brett (they were giddy) — holding a baby for a chunk of the bus ride.
- Sarah L-R, Jake, and Sarah T went to Kampong Chhnang, straight north of Phnom Penh. Kampong Chhnang is known for its popular redware pottery, which is often brought into Phnom Penh on ox-drawn carts loaded with straw.
- Kate, Seth, and Audrey went to Kampot, the pepper and durian capital of Phnom Penh. The town’s central sculpture is of a durian fruit. Although the smell of durian is offensive to many Westerners, you can even buy durian-flavored ice cream in Cambodia. Kampot pepper was once the only pepper served in France’s best restaurants.
- Lauren, Maryn, and Joel went for a short trip north to Odoung, which boasts a beautiful mountain-top wat and plenty of monkeys. Odoung is near where Jessie and Sarah L-R will be on service.
The weekend was without any incidents (e.g., no one got irretrievably lost, no one got sick on the trip), though various groups were full of stories from their 30-hour treks outside of the city. Sunday will be our celebratory event with our Phnom Penh families, so watch for another blog post about that Sunday night or Monday morning.