Siem Reap - Day 5

Siem Reap Travel Blog

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Items used to create the individual silk dye colours
My last day in Siem Reap would find me visiting a few other humanitarian projects.  Mr Lee first took me to visit the Artisans D'Angkor Silk Training Farm which is about 20 minutes out of the town.  Here, this organisation assists a number of disadvantaged young people and teaches them craft skills eg silk products, wood carvings etc and then once they have been working for a specified period of time, they are then able to return back to their home villages to practise their skills and to put them to use in thier own income producing activities.  My guide who was explaining all the processes and activities that go into the production of silk handicrafts and clothing was a lively young man who welcomed my many questions and was eager to explain how beneficial the programme is for young Khmers and for the local communities.
  I now have a serious appreciation for the very much hand made process that goes into silk products - a single silk scarf may take approx 3 weeks to make!  And this does not take the time it takes for the actual silk worms to be fed by the mulberry trees and then spinning their magic into the cocoons - if you have the time, I would highly recommend a visit to this training facility.  I then finished my visit by buying some very much appreciated silk items as souvenirs and gifts from the shop.

We then went to visit an orphanage called the Sangkheum Orphanage (translates to the word Hope).  The teachers that work here are volunteers and mostly are locals and they also live with the children in their little houses.  This orphanage is so far different to the horror stories that I had read and heard about - it was great to see such a well run place with all details well thought out to benefit the children.
  There were approx 40 children who were living here and they stay here until they turn 18 (I think) and then they leave and the orphanage helps to place them into some work that they want to pursue.  The process to be accepted into the orphanage was explained to me to be quite rigorous and regulated by the government, requiring many interviews of family and friends and potential candidates to be accepted.  The children are made accountable for their behaviour and they are well looked after.  I had bought a few small books with a mainly Australian flavour (animals and flora and fauna) and the staff were excited to add these to their library collection.  As I looked through the collection, I was shocked to see amongst the "Cat in the Hat", some Enid Blyton stories, there was an "Introduction to Financial Accounting" and an "Economic Analysis" textbook!!!  I can't believe that some people would think that this would be appropriate literature for children to be reading - I commented on this to the guide who was showing me around, and he just shrugged and grinned.
Artisans at work
...

After this, I visited the War Museum which is an outdoor museum, well, collection, really of ex-military items including tanks, weapons, photos and a minefield area.  This was quite interesting wandering around looking at everything - most items were labelled as to where they were found and when - it really bought it home to me how recent the Khmer atrocities are in modern history - many of the tanks were recovered in fields around Siemp Reap in the late 1990's and some in early 2000/2001.  I didn't really know much about artillery, but I would imagine if someone has a good knowledge of military things they would find this to be quite interesting.  I think I would have benefitted from having a guide here, but most things are labelled.
  Found the section on the Khmer sandals to be quite interesting, particularly as I had never heard of them before.  These were made out of very hard wearing and durable truck tyres for the soldiers.

I visited Handicap International which is an NGO that had been built up by a group in Belgium originally which has now grown to an international organisation.  The focus of Handicap International is to assist land mine victims.  Here, a team of people concentrate on  seeking people who need assistance and by providing prosthetic limbs and rehabiliting land mine victims.  They explained that there are still on average 2 land mine accidents per day somewhere in Cambodia - it's still such a sobering thought.  I visited the areas where they construct the prosthetics and they explained the process - extremely interesting and so worthy of support from the wider community.
Sangkheum Orphanage
  I left there with a greater understanding of the wider and long running impact of the Pol Pot regime.

After this, I visited another orphanage run by an Australian ex-pat who basically volunteers 11 months out of the year there.  This orphanage was called The Green Gecko Project and again, looked to be run really well and I met the director who was as down to earth an Aussie you could get - it was nice to hear the Aussie accent from someone who is making a serious difference to the lives of others much less fortunate.  I met some of the kids and volunteers there and everyone was so welcoming.  My last visit was back once again to see my friends at the Angkor Association for Disabled.  I wanted to spend some more time there with Sem and his team and he was gracious again for my visit.
  I hope to try and re-visit Siem Reap again and to see the progress that has taken place by Sem - he is truly an inspirational man.

I was quite drained from my day of project visits.....and after freshening up at the hotel, went back into town to treat myself to another massage (well I was on holidays I figured!) at the Bodia spa and then to my most expensive meal for the entire trip - all $11USD of it - at Indochine which I could very highly recommend.  Being New Years Eve, I headed back into Pub Street, to you guessed it, The Red Piano where I met up with some more locals and tourists alike.  Although this was very much a different New Years Eve that I had been used to living in Sydney where the fireworks display alone could sustain a small underdeveloped country for a year I'm sure, the town definitely went off at New Years Eve and it was a great party atmosphere.
Library
  I wandered around for a bit before calling it a night - or morning rather - and heading back to my hotel.  Good night Siem Reap and good bye until I can next make a visit........
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Items used to create the individua…
Items used to create the individu…
Artisans at work
Artisans at work
Sangkheum Orphanage
Sangkheum Orphanage
Library
Library
Green Gecko Project
Green Gecko Project
Siem Reap town
Siem Reap town
NYE Siem Reap style
NYE Siem Reap style
Siem Reap
photo by: genetravelling