Seymour College Douglas Cambodia Service Journey

Seymour College Douglas Cambodia Service Journey

Trip Highlights

  • Participate in Community Project with volunteer build
  • Explore one of the great wonders of the world, Angkor Wat
  • Cycling around small village towns near Siem Reap
  • Witness local life at stilt village Kompong Kleang on Tonle Sap Lake
  • Trek in Kulen Mountains to gain incredible views
  • Kayak on the Tonle Sap River
  • Explore the tree lined streets of Phnom Penh
  • Join the Free the Bears "keeper for a day" program
  • Experience spectacular NGO Phare circus
  • Participate in cooking class
  • Receive private Monks blessing at Wat Botum
  • Dining at charity restaurant Friends
  • Join Preah Dak Village tree planting project

Trip Summary

Our adventure begins in the developing town of Phnom Penh. Once considered the most beautiful city in the Orient Phnom Penh is going through rapid change, we experience some of the cultural and historical highlights. We explore the same way the locals do, by cyclo, as we discover the local markets and main places of interest. We then join one of the best wildlife facilities in South East Asia as we join the Free the Bears "keeper for a day" program. We drive North to Siem Reap stopping at Skuon village famous for its local delicacies before we continue to the bustling town of Siem Reap, the gateway to the temples of Angkor Wat. Here we explore the surrounds by bike, foot and kayak. We embark on a trek through rural communities and wilderness terrain to the top of sacred Kulen Mountain, spending 1 night in a small Cambodian village at a traditional old teak building, a real highlight of your adventure. We explore the main temples by cycling along the back roads along shady tree lined streets, away from the main crowds. We pay a visit to the Kompong Kleang village set on the Tonle Sap Lake to witness how life is lived on the water in villages built on stilts - homes, schools and hospitals purpose built to float on the water during the wet season. We then embark on a very important part of our journey, a Community Project helping build infrastructure at the Treak Community Village. For 3 days we work together with the local community to improve the facilities and help participate in the education program by day and then enjoy activities including cycling, trekking and kayaking in the afternoon. This is a wonderful opportunity to hands on provide lasting help to the local community.


After months of planning and preparation the wait is finally over! Please make your way to the airport for your day flight to Phnom Penh. SQ278 ADELAIDE TO SINGAPORE DEP 09:10 ARR 15:10 connecting with MI608 SINGAPORE TO PHNOM PENH DEP 16:35 ARR 17:30 On arrival you will be met by your guide and driver and transferred to your hotel. After check in we will have a full group pre-trip briefing before heading out for our first taste of Cambodian cuisine at a local restaurant. Overnight 3* hotel Phnom Penh

Meals:  D

After breakfast at our hotel we will head out for a very special day. We will drive to Phnom Tamao to the Free the Bears wildlife sanctuary to join their "keeper for a day program". This is a wonderful opportunity for students to get behind the scenes at one of the best wildlife centres in South East Asia as they join the Free the Bears education program. The facility, set up by Perth lady Mary Hutton, now houses over 100 Sun Bears over a 7 hectare area, rescued from poachers. We will help with the bear enrichment program. Late this afternoon we will return to Phnom Penh and enjoy a low key dinner.

Meals:  B,L,D

Next stop is a very sobering one as we visit Cambodia's bloody past. Whilst this is a very confronting visit it is important if we are to understand the countries recent history and how the people are looking positively towards the future. We visit the Tuol Sleng Museum, or the Museum of Genocide. Originally this building was a high school, until it became the Khmer Rouge’s main torture and interrogation centre. During this period it was known as ‘S-21’. We then stop for de-briefing and lunch at the local restaurant before proceeding to the Killing Fields, a stretch of countryside where over 10,000 people were executed. The remains of some of the people are stored in a memorial to remind people of the atrocities the Khmer Rouge inflicted on other Khmers. We will then head back into town and visit the National Museum, housing the worlds foremost collection of ancient Khmer artifacts. Late this evening we have time to reflect on the day and debrief. Tonight we have dinner at the Friends restaurant, a training restaurant for disadvantaged youth. The restaurant provides education and job training to street children. The visit helps support the training of these kids by being their guest. Depending on availability we hope to have the manager of the restaurant and some of the workers speak with our group about their experience. Overnight 3* hotel Phnom Penh

Meals:  B,D

This morning we leave Phnom Penh for Siem Reap. A short distance outside of Phnom Penh we will stop in the town of Skuon to see their most famous specialty being sold: deep-fried tarantula! A stop off on the Hamish and Andy gap year Asia program, this town is home to the favourite snack of many Cambodians. Many local buses stop here at the market to buy a bag of the “ch’ngain” (tasty) eight-legged creatures. The spiders are caught in the soft ground of the surrounding countryside and dug out of their burrows. We continue to Siem Reap. On arrival we will check into our hotel before heading to the Angkor National Museum. This interactive museum showcases artifacts from the Golden era of the Khmer empire. We will then have an orientation tour of Siem reap before heading out to dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner we head to the famous Phare Cambodian circus. Despite being known around town as the Cambodian circus, it is anything but a traditional big top. A nonprofit school for the arts, Phare is a demonstration of the graduate students’ acrobatic abilities. Exceptionally talented players act out everything from Cambodian folklore to the very real history of the Khmer Rouge; a must see for anyone visiting Siem Reap. Overnight 3* Siem Reap Hotel

Meals:  B,D

After breakfast we do a double check of our gear and equipment before we transfer to the trail head to begin our trek. We hike through seemingly endless rice fields and spectacular rural scenery. This is a great opportunity to see how people in the rural areas of Cambodia go about their lives on a daily basis. Rising up from the flat countryside is the enormous Kulen Mountain, and it slowly begins to dominate the view as the trail approaches. Kulen Mountain (Phnom Kulen) is an impressive sandstone plateau in this otherwise flat area. The mountain is considered the birthplace of the Khmer empire and a sacred place for the Khmer. At the top of Phnom Kulen, we can find the 1000 of LINGAS carved under the river. We continue up to visit the grand Buddha before we turn and start trekking downhill, through thick forest. We pass natural water springs where local Khmer people come to wash their face and head. They believe that this holy spring water will bring them happiness, luck and prosperity, moreover; the water is believed to cure any bad moods. Our trek takes us to the popular local hangout: the Kulen falls. Many Cambodians gather here on the weekends and national holidays to escape the heat and enjoy some time beneath the trees. We have the chance to swim here in this beautiful setting. Here we are met by our vehicles and transfer to the nearby Bong Thom village stay. Our accommodation is in a traditional Khmer village where our group will sleep in a large open air dormitory. The home stay is surrounded by orchards of exotic fruit trees that we can try. The home stay also offers free English lessons to children from the surrounding villages, each day and we will be able to join in and help with the lessons. Tonight, enjoy dinner with traditional music at the entrance. Today is a real highlight of our experience in Cambodia. Overnight in Bong Thom traditional hall Trek approx 15km, 6 hours

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we enjoy waking to the sound of birds and local villages starting their working day, heading to the fields. After breakfast, we say goodbye to our hosts and cycle out to the “gem” of the Angkor area, the pretty temple of Banteay Srei. The “Citadel of Women” remains the best-preserved temple in Cambodia. It displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art and is noted for its truly remarkably fine bas-reliefs. Banteay Srei is unique in that it is constructed of pink sandstone, which is seen nowhere else in Angkor. Then we proceed to visit the temple of Banteay Samre, attributed to King Suryavarman II and maintaining the same style as the mother temple Angkor Wat (known as the small Angkor Wat). This temple is still very well preserved and houses the reliefs, depicting scenes from some of the lives of the most representative Hindu gods. This afternoon, return back to Siem Reap town. On the way we stop at Preah Dak Village for a Tree Planting Project. It gives the opportunity to offset the carbon of your holidays and help a local family to potentially generate some income. All equipment needed will be provided and the students need to discuss location and plant the trees themselves. Later this afternoon we have the opportunity to relax and dinner will be arranged at The Pizza Company tonight. After dinner we have the opportunity to explore the night markets. Overnight in Siem Reap.

Meals:  B,D

Today is a special day as we make our way out to the magnificent temples of Angkor and explore at handle bar level! You will have a full briefing with your guide as well as being sized up for your bike. Cycling is a wonderful way to explore the temple complex as it is relatively flat and we can travel along small shaded streets and avoid the queues as we enter the temples. 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 explore Ta Prohm, known as the temple filmed for the movie Tomb Raider which is still overgrown by jungle, trees and vines. We will have lunch near the complex and continue our exploration until we return to our hotel later that afternoon. Tonight we will enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. Cycling approx 30km **Appropriate attire must be work when visiting the temples of Angkor. Long pants (covering the knee) and shirts that cover the shoulders must be worn. Skirts, shorts above the knee, tank tops or other revealing clothing are not allowed to be worn within the temple grounds. Visitors are frequently turned away from the temples when wearing revealing clothing.

Meals:  B,D

We will rise early to witness the majestic Angkor Wat at sunrise before returning to the hotel for breakfast. We then head to the famous Tonle Sap Lake, south east Asia's largest fresh water lake. The lake swells to around 4 times its normal size during the wet season. We get to explore the lake and stilt villages at sea level by kayak. Our two seat inflatable kayaks are a great way to explore the lake as they can go where the noisy long tail motorboats can not. We paddle through sunken fields and floating forests to the stilt village of Kompong Klaeng. We enjoy lunch at this village town before leaving our kayak's and heading to Siem Reap to join a cooking class. kayaking approx 2 hours

Meals:  B,L,D

The next 3 days is a special time for us as we join the local volunteer building Cambodia team. This is a real opportunity for us to hands on give something back to a remote community in need and to bring long term benefits to the centre. Our work here will be a mixture of labour and construction duties building houses, toilets and wells for the surrounding villages. Volunteer building is a small, Cambodian-run non-government organisation that facilitates building sturdy, wooden houses for Khmer people living without safe and secure shelter. The organisation is fully funded by volunteer fees. At the project site the students will be divided into sub groups to work on different components of the project. We will take the time to take a walk through the surrounding community whilst here gaining a better understanding of the people and their way of life. You should wear clothing you don't mind getting dirty. In addition the friendships which will form and foster closer relationships between your two countries and schools. We work the first day until 12 and then enjoy a variety of activities. The second and third day we work until 3pm and have time to visit the markets after. 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.

Meals:  B,D

This morning is time for a trip debrief, reflection and time at leisure for any last minute shopping and to get ready for our departure after lunch. We will be met at the hotel after lunch for our transfer to the airport for check in to our flight back to Adelaide. MI615 SIEM REAP TO SINGAPORE DEP 16:10 ARR 19:15 SQ279 SINGAPORE TO ADELAIDE DEP 23:10 ARR 07:30 (30 SEP 18)

Meals:  B,L

Arrive Adelaide 07:30

Meals:  Nil

What's Included

  • 11 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 11 dinners
  • 10 nights comfortable hotels, 1 night village stay,
  • return economy class flights from Adelaide including all international taxes
  • airport transfers throughout
  • private air conditioned vehicle transfers
  • daily allocated drinking water, cold towels and snacks
  • sightseeing and entry fees as listed in itinerary
  • expert bilingual guide, assistant guide on cycling and treking days
  • medical kit
  • Free the Bears "keeper for a day" program
  • 3 Seymour College teachers traveling with each group
  • Phare NGO circus entry
  • Support vehicle for cycling days

What's Not Included

  • meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • visa fees: Cambodia
  • any optional tours, sightseeing and entry fees not listed in the itinerary
  • tips and gratuities
  • expenditure of a personal nature such as drinks, souvenirs and laundry
  • Project materials including a US$2900 donation to Treak Community centre and USD$600 donation to Free the Bears
  • additional drinking water can be purchased at supermarket
Seymour Douglas

Day 2

Date: 19/09/2018

Location: Phnom Tamao

Activity: Free the Bears Rehabilitation Centre

Destination Leader / Teacher comments: Today was our first full day in Cambodia. We got up bright and early at 6:45 to enjoy a beautiful buffet breakfast overlooking the Tonle Sap river. Our 90min drive through Phnom Penh to the Phnom Tamau rescue centre for the Free the Bears program was narrated by our amazing tour guide Khon, who explained Cambodian culture regarding temples, education and the (very flexible) traffic laws. We also learned how to say thank you (or kun) and goodbye (lea hery) in Khmer. Once we reached the centre, we were given a presentation on the sun and moon bears and some of the problems affecting them today. We then visited all the bears fed them by throwing food over the fences. We finished off the program with a tour of the rest of the park and saw animals such as elephants, monkeys and even some otters

The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh is the residence of King Sihanouk of Cambodia

Day 3

Date: 20/09/2018

Location: Phnom Penh

Activity: Royal Palace, National Museum, S21 and Killing Fields

Destination Leader / Teacher comments: Day 3 of the Cambodia trip was used to learn about the history and culture of Cambodia. We were taught about the royal palace, which is where the King of Cambodia lives. After we learnt about the royal palace of Cambodia, we visited the National Museum of Cambodia where we saw national artifacts such as the Buddha, statues of former Kings and other religious figures. Following our visit to the museum, we took a trip to the Genocide museum where we saw the horrific circumstances the victims of the Khmer Regime were subjected to. Although it was very confronting to see the conditions the Genocide museum was very eye-opening. After a break for lunch, we went to visit the Killing Fields where we saw mass graves of victims of the Khmer Regime and saw their remains of bones, teeth, and skulls. Some of us paid respect to the victims by placing our bracelets on the fences or trees around the graves.

Seymour Douglas 4

Day 4

Date: 21/09/2018

Location: Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

Activity: Drive Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

Destination Leader / Teacher comments: Today we left Phnom Penh to travel to Siem Reap. On the bus ride we celebrated Georgia’s birthday by singing Happy Birthday and listened to music and played party games. On our way we stopped at a market where there were spiders and other insects we could eat. After the markets some students tried some of the insects and bugs that our guide bought. As we were travelling to lunch we watched a movie that had been filmed in Cambodia called “Two Brothers” to pass some time. We then stopped for lunch on the way which was a restaurant in a jungle area. Out of all the days we have been here so far, today has been one of the more cooler days due to some rain. Later on, we arrived at the hotel before leaving for a tour of the Angkor Museum and a tuk tuk tour of Siem Reap. When we got off, we had a walk around some of the local markets to see what some of the people had to offer. We arrived at the restaurant for dinner, this was then followed by the Phare Circus which was amazing. 

Seymour Douglas 5

Day 5

Date: 22/09/2018

Location: Siem Reap and surrounds

Activity: Trek Kulen Mountain

Destination Leader / Teacher comments:

Today began as we took buses up Kulen Mountain. As we drove up amongst the magnificent scenery, we saw many shrines & happy people. Once we got to the top & picked up our park ranger, Liy, we began our trek to the bat cave & elephant ponds. Along this journey, there were many slips, rips (in happy pants) and wet shoes from the puddles & creeks. We stopped at the bat caves for lunch & received a “western lunch box,” which included many different foods. After lunch, we climbed to the bat caves & had to bob & weave between low ceilings. There were too many bats to count, hence the name of the cave. We then walked to the elephant ponds where we sighted a large limestone elephant, lion & frog. While we were there, we learnt that the limestone creatures are over 1000 years old. Older than the temples in the Angkor region. The lion & elephant represent strength & were built to protect the gods. On the journey back we stopped at a waterfall & walked to the bottom to get a closer look. We then drove to Bong Thom Forest Lodge, our homestay, which met all our expectations & more. The stunning scenery & charming shared room add to the beauty. We shared a delicious dinner, which included soup, rice, stir fry & fruit. Afterward, everyone danced to some traditional Cambodian music (played on drums, tros, bells & kem), by following the steps from two dancers.


Seymour Douglas 6

Day 6

Date: 23/09/2018

Location: Bong Thom, Siem Reap and surrounds

Activity: Homestay and cycling

Destination Leader / Teacher comments:


After waking up to the morning light in the homestay after a great sleep,  we had some breakfast and then journeyed to our first stop, Banteay Srei - the woman’s temple. We were told that this was one of the smaller temples but beautiful all the same. After a short bus trip to a nearby village we were introduced to our bikes! We all hopped on and with a few seat adjustments and gear lessons, started our ride. From there we rode to a local property, where we each planted lemon and mango trees to help fight the battle of illegal deforestation and help in our own way. After we said good bye in Cambodian (Lieh HAOY) to the locals that helped us plant the trees, we rode until taking a break for lunch at an awesome tree house restaurant. To finish our bike ride we rode for a further 20 minutes, winding through villages and backstreets before catching the bus the rest of the way into town to our hotel. After some well deserved rest in the hotel rooms, we headed out for some delicious pizza! Following this we ventured into the night markets where we tried our hand at bartering and bargaining!


Witness the splendid architecture of the World Heritage site, Angkor Wat |  <i>Donna Lawrence</i>

Day 8

Date: 25/09/2018

Location: Siem Reap

Activity: Sunrise Angkor Wat, kayak Tonle Sap

Destination Leader / Teacher comments:


Today we had an early start, waking up before 5am to see the sunrise over the Angkor Wat. After we saw the sunrise we walked through part of the temple and some of us climbed a tower to see an incredible view over some of Siem Reap of trees and arches with detailed carvings. The temple was serene and calm especially when we were looking over the city. We slowly descended back to the hotel to enjoy a lovely breakfast, with our favourites (waffles yumm)!! After this, we hopped on the bus to the meeting point for the kayaks! We got onto the “wood boat” and set off in our kayaking adventure! It was so amazing to be able to kayak through the river villages and see all the people living there. We finished off with a wonderful home cooked dinner (by us)! We got to experience different ways of cooking and some inside Cambodian recipes. After, we were given the opportunity to eat our cooked meals in a lovely area in the jungle. 


Seymour Build

Day 9

Date: 26/09/2018

Location: Siem Reap

Activity: House Build

Destination Leader / Teacher comments:

Enormously proud of our Douggie team today as we embarked upon the first day of the community building project. We had an early start and were busy at work by 8.00am. We were met by the local project manager who explained that the first task was to saw large planks of wood that would be used for the flooring. Neighbouring families provided the labour for the framework so it was a noisy, busy and energetic start to the day on site. As we started, the family who we are building for participated in a ceremony to bless the house and rid it of potential spirits. They buried a selection of local foods to pay respects to the god of the earth in accordance with local custom. Money is placed on the cement pillars that the house is built on to bring prosperity. Whilst this was going on, the Douggies lifted, marked out and sawed five metre planks of wood for their first task. Then the entire team pushed and pulled the framework of the house upright. It was a powerful moment.  During the day, the girls assembled scaffolding, hammered planks of wood to the framework, did some more sawing, had lunch with a local family and then made steps with a hammer and chisel. They will have many new skills by the end of the build should you need a new shed constructed in your back yard! They were so committed to providing the house for the family that they pushed through despite the heat and dust and are an inspiration to be with.


Seymour Douglas 10

Day 10

Date: 27/09/2018

Location: Siem Reap

Activity: Build site

Destination Leader / Teacher comments:

Today was the second day of the house build. Like yesterday, we powered through and became more familiar with the heat, humidity and sunshine, making it a much more tolerable and enjoyable experience. Our 2:00pm finish meant that we are now at the right stage in the house’s construction, allowing us to anticipate its completion tomorrow. It’s amazing to see how the various tasks we’ve been assigned to have contributed to the state the house is in now. Although the work has been tough, we get an indescribable feeling from the gracious response of the people who will have their lives changed by the project, which in turn makes the hardship worthwhile and the work exciting. It was not all hard work though however! During break time and before lunch we enjoyed a soccer game with the teenage boys of the village, whose faces were lit up by the friendly competition and new faces. All of us adored playing with the babies, saying we had never seen such cuteness would be an understatement! Overall, the day was a success and finished with a delicious dinner where we appreciated how our efforts have come together and felt nostalgic about the experience and our time in Cambodia even though it isn’t just over yet!



Duration:13 Days
Starting Point:Adelaide
Finishing Point:Adelaide
Activities:Community Project
Grade:Introductory to Moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:SOG5036