Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Basketball in Poipet

After many months training, the DBTS Phnom Penh basketball team finally went to Poipet to play against the team there. They were pumped and ready to go.  We took a night bus from Phnom Penh and arrived in the very early morning in Poipet.

Their coach, Dominik, gave them some words of encouragement, and reminded them of their training.

The game was very competitive and both teams gave it their all.

In the end, the Poipet team won. We have invited the team to play in Phnom Penh and look forward to a rematch.

After the game, we all went in the truck to a garden where we could find all kinds of statues.  It was great catching up with some of the Poipet boys who I met a few weeks earlier for Khmer new year.

The Phnom Penh boys loved to pose with all the statues!

That night we enjoyed dinner by candlelight because there was a blackout.  Apparently it happens every week because the nearby casinos use so much power.  Never mind, it provided a romantic atmosphere for us... hahaha :P

Monday, 11 May 2015

Khmer New Year part 2 - Siem Reap

On the 15th of April... the second day of Khmer New Year, I travelled by taxi to Siem Reap, where I met up with Albina, a volunteer from Pakistan.  We went to the night market for dinner, where we could buy a bowl of Khmer noodles for $1!  It was delicious!! We also visited Pub Street, where you can find restaurants serving food from many different cultures... I even saw Australian Steak on one of the menus for about $13.
The next day, Albina and I visited a few temples in Siem Reap... this one pictured above is called Wat Damnak... the word 'Wat' means temple or pagoda.  Surrounding the temple is a beautiful garden.
There were many people praying at the temple.  One of the traditions is to wash the statue of Buddha as a sign of respect and to show gratitude.
The people also share rice and other foods with the monks.  In the picture above, you can see the silver bowls belonging to each of the monks staying at that temple.  You can also see a father and his son serving one spoonful of rice in each of the monk's bowls.
That afternoon, Candy (a volunteer from Philippines) and Tamy (a volunteer from Hungary) also arrived in Siem Reap, and we went together to the Cultural Village.  Our tuk tuk driver throughout our time in Siem Reap was Mr. Chan.  He is the younger brother of one of our cooks at Don Bosco School.  
 At the cultural village, there were many statues and displays.  Here is a miniature representation of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.
 There were also many performances telling the history and culture of the Cambodian people.  These performers represent the indigenous people of Cambodia.
The next day, we travelled to the most famous temple in all of Cambodia... Angkor Wat.  This amazing place was once the residence of the royal family before it was conquered by the Thai.  Now, some of it is in ruins, but much of the structure still stands strong as a reminder of the country's rich and proud history and culture.
 Along the walls of the great temple are intricate carvings which tell the story of gods and kings.
 After a delicious lunch, we rested in hammocks to relax a little before heading to the next temple, Ta Prom.
 Ta Prom is a temple which is now overgrown by large trees.  It was made famous in the movie 'Tomb Raiders'.
 The last temple we visited was Bayon Temple, famous for the four faces on the towers.  This temple also has many beautiful carvings.  This is Mr. Chan's favourite temple, because when he feels sad, he likes to sit in front of the smiling faces to help make him happy.
We all had a great time in Siem Reap!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Khmer New Year part 1 - Poipet

 During the first half of the Khmer New Year week-long holiday, I visited Poipet, which is at the Cambodia-Thailand border.  I travelled by sleeping bus (my first time) for a 10 hour journey.  Luckily I slept most of the way, so I didn't notice the long journey.
 When I arrived in Poipet, Br. Addis picked me up and took me to Mass before touring me around the Don Bosco School there.  It is a very big school with a primary school and a technical school.  There are also basketball courts, volleyball courts, a football field and a large farm.
 About 10 boarder boys did not go home for the Khmer New Year because they were required to look after the school over the holidays.  That night we decided to treat them to a trip to the casino area of Poipet.  We did not enter any casinos because it's illegal for Khmer to enter, but we enjoyed seeing the lights and listening to the live performances outside.
 The next day was an easy, relaxing day.  In the evening, I cooked spaghetti bolognese and potato salad and Fr. Somyot prepared some delicious soup, and we ate til we couldn't eat anymore.  Then we sang karaoke and danced til late.
 The next day was the first day of Khmer New Year.  We celebrated by preparing barrels of water and splashing anybody who passed by and putting white powder on their faces.
 Br. Addis was especially keen to drench everyone, pouring two ladles of water on his victims.
 Young beautiful girls were especially targeted, and this teacher (in the green shirt) had a special technique to ensure the young ladies could not escape a proper drenching.
The next day we visited these beautiful sisters in the morning.  I am always amazed at the great love of people who dedicate their whole lives to serving others.  That afternoon, I departed Poipet and headed to Siem Reap.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Gratitude Day

The 10th of April was the last day of school before the Khmer New Year week-long school holidays. On this day, the Don Bosco Technical School Community celebrated Gratitude Day.  The day began with a Mass in the morning.
After the Mass, all staff members who served for 5, 10, 15 or 20 years were shown gratitude for their years of service.
 The students all knelt down to show gratitude to all teachers, brothers and priests at the school.
Afterwards we all gathered around the statue of Don Bosco.  Fr. Roel blessed everyone with water. It was a nice relief from the heat too!
Everyone also washed the statue of Don Bosco.  This is a Cambodian tradition during Khmer New Year, when statues of Buddha, Monks, Grandparents and Parents are all washed by those younger as a blessing and a sign of gratitude.
The day ended with some entertainment and dancing... yay!! :D

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Fr. Roel's Birthday

Fr. Roel's Birthday was on the 11th of April, and we had a big celebration organised for him on the 8th of April.  The day began with a performance of an original birthday song, which was written by the volunteers and Br. Addis, sung at breakfast time.

In the evening, we shared a very special birthday dinner with the whole community of Salesians, volunteers, boarders and Besuccos. We ate many different foods, including bulgogi (Korean beef) made by Agnes (a volunteer from Korea), as well as fish soup and palachenta (pancakes) made by Tamas (a volunteer from Hungary).

Later that night, the students gave many performances, including singing, dancing, poetry and comedy acts.

Even the volunteers joined in, with this comedy performance, in which Dominik had the starring role imitating Fr. Roel.

Fr. Roel received many gifts, and everyone had a wonderful, fun-filled night.

Tae Kwon Do

The boarder girls live off campus. Their dormitory is about 10 minutes walk from the school, and they don't have security guards like we have here at the school.  Sometimes I worry for their safety. So, Fr. Roel and a group of us volunteers decided we should teach Tae Kwon Do to these girls so they could defend themselves.  Allie, Agnes and I have experience in Tae Kwon Do and have been teaching the girls on Wednesday evenings.

Big thanks to my little brother William for sending over my Tae Kwon Do uniform.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Happy Birthday Br. Addis

On the 30th of March, it was Br. Addis' birthday.  Being the humble man that he is, he asked us not to tell anyone... but we just had to celebrate.  So we composed a birthday song for him, made him an awesome hand-made card with Happy Birthday written in Ethiopian, and ate some delicious birthday cake. Sorry for going against your wishes Br. Addis... We had so much fun planning your surprise :P