After surviving the terrifying NH6 highway north from Phnom Penh we arrived in the city of Siem Reap. The main draw card for the city is the famous Angkor Temples, in particular the biggest and most impressive of them all - Angkor Wat. Built in the early 12th century it has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag and is the country's main attraction for visitors. Hundreds of temples are scattered around this area called Angkor which once was a city in the ancient Khmer empire. A city that at its peak boasted a population of 1 million when at the same time London was a small town of 50,000. And it is pretty amazing. I have seen many temples but these have got to be the most impressive. Some temple ruins are being slowly reclaimed by the jungle around it (Ta Phrom) which makes for an impressive vision of giant tree roots strangling the stones. I also loved Bayon where 216 stone faces of the Gods stare out into the jungle.
While in Siem Reap we met a young Khmer guy, Vanna, who is studying to become a teacher. Until then he works as a volunteer teaching at a couple of different schools. He invited us around to his village where he took us to his home to meet his family and to some schools he is teaching at. A former monk, at only 23 years old Vanna has a clear vision what he wants to do with his life. His dream is to one day build a school for orphans and I have no doubt that he will achieve this. An inspiring person he is, young Vanna. We wish you the best of luck.
Mark and Vanna
Drinking sugarpalm wine with the locals
Some of Vanna's students
Pretty basic classrooms they have around here