A wonderful private learning journey for the students of Gippsland Grammar. Our exciting itinerary highlights Cambodia's best known attractions including the incredible temples of Angkor Wat along with the satisfaction of giving something back by way of a community project at local NGO Anjali House. Under the guidance of our support team you will work alongside the students and local community to improve their local community centre school. This will provide lasting and long term benefits to the residents. You will also spend time learning about and appreciating the world famous temples of Angkor, which are arguably the finest archaeological site in Asia. Here we explore the highlights of the region including Ta Prohm, Boeng Malea, The Bayon, Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat itself. We also pay a visit to Internationally acclaimed PHARE circus which is transforming the lives of Cambodian youth. During our stay we will immerse ourselves in the local culture, taste the local cuisine and join traditional customs. This is a learning experience to get excited over!
After so many months thinking, preparing, and planning for your Cambodian adventure to begin the day has finally arrived! Please make your way to Melbourne Airport to check in for your overnight flight to Siem Reap via Bangkok.
On arrival in Siem Reap you will be met at the airport by your English speaking guide who will accompany you for your entire stay in Cambodia. We transfer to our to our centrally located hotel for check in and a trip breifing. After checking in and dropping off our bags we hit the ground running and start our exploration of Siem Reap, traveling the way the locals do, by tuk tuk! This is a great introduction to the town and people of Cambodia as we see witness people going about there daily lives. Our first stop is the Wat Thmey or Killing Field Museum which is dedicated to those who sacrificed their lives in the civil war. This is a somber experience however essential to understanding the people and Cambodia's recent history. This afternoon we visit the magnificent Angkor Wat and view the temple in all its glory at sunset. We then head to a welcome dinner at The Nest Angkor restaurant and prepare for the adventure ahead.
Overnight Siem Reap Hotel
Today is a special day as we make our way out to the magnificent temples of Angkor! Angkor is full of magical highlights, and possibly one of the most enjoyable is Ta Prohm temple where the Tomb Raider movies were set and filmed. Ta Prohm is unique in that it has been left largely as it was found: overgrown by jungle. This makes Ta Prohm one of the most memorable of the Angkor temples. Photo opportunities abound around every corner. We also visit The Bayon temples with it's large faces looking over the Angkor complex. We enjoy lunch in an old traditional Khmer wooden house, tasting some of the local delicacies before continuing our exploration. The largest and most impressive of all the temples in Angkor is Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat was built between 1112 and 1152 by King Suryavarman II and dedicated to Vishnu, the Hindu god of preservation. It is the best preserved of all the temples. Its layout and its scale are simply breathtaking: the wall surrounding the enclosure measures 1,000 by 800 meters in length and the moat, said to represent the oceans of the world is 200 meters wide. We have the opportunity to visit a local pagoda within the temple where we will be welcomed by Buddhist Monks and hear about their life and understand more about Buddhism in the region. We then partake in a water blessing ceremony in the ancient Por Langa Pagoda of Siem Reap. The ceremony begins with the monks chanting and wishing luck and safe travels upon the recipient and culminates with water being sprinkled over the head and upper body. Tonight we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight Siem Reap Hotel
***TODAY THE STUDENTS CAN EITHER CYCLE ALONG WITH A FULL SUPPORT VEHICLE BETWEEN THE TEMPLES OR TRAVEL BY TUK TUK - THE CYCLING IS FULLY SUPPORTED WITH A BACK UP VAN AND SPARE BIKES AND ADDITIONAL CREW TO CYCLE ON THE BACK ROADS OF THE TEMPLE COMPLEX. IT IS FLAT AND A WONDERFUL WAY TO EXPLORE.
After breakfast, we will take a drive to the Kulen Mountain Range, approximately 60 km away from Siem Reap. Phnom Kulen is considered by Khmers to be the most sacred mountain in Cambodia and is a popular place of pilgrimage during weekends and festival. There is a small wat at the summit of the mountain, which houses a large Buddha carved into the sandstone boulder upon which it is built. Once we arrive we continue by foot along hidden trails leading to the village. Once we are back from the jungle you can visit the Waterfall and take a refreshing bath in its pool. We then head to the fantastic Bong Thom home stay to spend the night. Our accommodation is in a traditional Khmer village Teak house where our group will sleep in a large open air dormitory. The home stay is surrounded by orchards of exotic fruit trees. The home stay also offer free English lessons to children from the surrounding villages each night and we will be able to join in and help with the lessons.
Overnight Bong Thom homestay
Today we will have an early breakfast before we say goodbye to our hosts and drive Kompong Kleang, a village build on stilts and boats floating on top of the Tonle Sap Lake. This is a different world as the local people live on and off this huge river. We will take one of the boats to explore the village and experience the locals life on the water. We will make a stop and have the opportunity to explore by foot before stopping at one of the local houses for lunch. We continue Boeng Malea, a wonderful sprawling jungle temple covering over one square kilometer. The temple has been overrun by the jungle and left this way and gives you an impression of how the first explorers must have felt once they discovered this temple in the jungle. This is a real Indiana Jones type moment as we explore the narrow corridors and open courtyards among the sprawling jungle.
Tonight we will enjoy dinner at a local restaurant whilst watching a special cultural performance of the "Aspara dance show".
Overnight Siem Reap Hotel
We get up early for breakfast before heading to our project site at Anjali House. You will be divided into sub groups to work on different components of the project. You should wear clothing you don't mind getting dirty or paint on. The people from the local school will be very receptive to your visit and the improvements that you are making that will bring long term benefits to the entire village. The difference which this work will make can not be underestimated. In addition the friendships which will have formed, it will foster closer relationships between your two countries and schools. At the end of our second day we say farewell to the centre and our new found friends. The project is set up alongside our Travel, Give, Grow concept offering unique experiences to help foster respect for the natural world as well as the diverse peoples and cultures that live in it. This style of travel helps develop confidence, resilience, tolerance, problem solving abilities, team work, fitness and key life skills. We will return to our hotel late in the afternoon to refresh before heading out to dinner at a local restaurant. On the first night we will visit the famous PHARE circus. The circus is an International quality program designed to take in street kids and train them to be performers. The circus travels around the world and appears on some of the biggest stages. It is a fantastic experience that students and teachers absolutely love! On the second night we have the opportunity to head to the night markets where you can purchase gifts and souvenirs.
Overnight City River Hotel Siem Reap or similar
This morning we will complete our project at the Anjali House and enjoy a hand over ceremony giving the completed project back to the school. We then have some time to visit the markets and engage in some last minute shopping before we meet our cook who will purchase ingredients with us to use at our Cambodian cooking class. The best thing is we get to eat what we prepare! This afternoon we will check out and head to the airport for our flight back to Melbourne.
Per Person, Twin Share