Our 2016 project was based in rural Cambodia, in a town called Battambang. Our local Cambodian partner, Kamnat had lived in the area all his life and struggled while he watched the cycle of poverty repeat itself year after year. A tuktuk drive by trade, and a former monk, Kamnat decided to use everything he had in the world to create an English school for the poor community on the outskirts of the town, a school where the kids could visit for free each day after finishing their lessons at the local Government school. His logic being that if the children could grow up with a proficient level of English, then they would be accepted into University, finally breaking the cycle. A solid level of English is a prerequisite of Cambodia tertiary education and due to the corruption of state-run education, the poor kids never stood a chance.
Kids being kids, it’s tough for them to attend government school all day and then directly after that, come and attend Kamnat’s school so we thought we might be able to help out a little, and make the school a touch more appealing, so the idea of building a playground was born!
We decided to build a beautiful playground, and sandpit, for the kids so they would be encouraged to come every day. We wanted to paint the school in bright colours, donate supplies for the kids to use each day in lessons, from notepads to erasers to pens and pencils.
Furthermore, we wanted to help the school self-fund in the future, so we ordered 16 bicycles, one for each member of our tour, and we rode them to the school and donated them to Kamnat and his team, thereby allowing them to run local bicycle tours in the future and directing the funds right back to the school.
Our group had flown in from around the world – Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America. 16 people coming together to work on a beautiful project together, and it was an uplifting experience. When the playground was finished, the kids could hardly contain their excitement! Smiling ear-to-ear and leaping on and off the playground from every conceivable angle, it went down a treat. And so we were off, to continue our backpacking adventure.
A breathtaking boat trip through the Cambodia countryside, sunrise at Angkor Wat, one of the Wonders of the World, overlanding border crossing back into Thailand for 3 nights in paradise in Koh Chang, Thailand and then back to Bangkok for a teary goodbye and some sad flights home. 2 weeks in a heartbeat. What a trip.
Friday, December 2nd
Arrival Day – Depending on the time of your arrival day 1 will be nice and easy. Enjoy your first meal in Thailand, a Thai massage, dip in the pool, soak up the sounds and smells of Thailand’s Capital City. Just relax and get used to the time difference.
The winner, and the tour participants, will leave their home country today, and fly to the City of Angels – Bangkok, Thailand! We’ll have a little get together this evening at the ‘off-the-beaten-path’ train market in the city.
Saturday, December 3rd
Bangkok Trip – Spend the first day visiting Thailand’s largest city. Stunning temples, tuk-tuk rides and nighttime street markets, we’ll cover the best the city has to offer. Rooftop drinks in the evening with a view of the city will leave you speechless.
Sunday, December 4th
Transit to Battambang from Bangkok– Today we move overland from Thailand to Cambodia. It can be quite an adventure, and watching the landscapes change as we venture into Eastern Thailand is gorgeous. Then into Cambodia, one more stamp to add to the passport, and on to Battambang where our 2016 project is based
Monday, December 5th to Thursday, December 8th
Projects in Battambang – We will spend the next 4 nights working to improve the school here. We will be working closely with the school staff to build a playground for the kids, equip the classrooms and help out with some English lessons. Some super fun side trips we will be doing here include the bamboo train, Phnom Sampeu bat cave, and the Battambang Circus (with amazing humans, no animals, we don’t support that stuff!).
Friday, December 9th
Transit to Siem Reap – Today we move to Siem Reap, home to Angkor Wat, one of the 7 wonders of the world! Siem Reap is a backpackers heaven, great food and a busy nightlife. Along the way we will stop to check out a floating village.
Saturday, December 10th
Sunrise and day at Angkor Wat– We’ll wake up before sunrise to travel by tuk-tuk to Angkor Wat, where we’ll soak in the stunning views of the world’s most famous Temple complex.
Sunday, December 11th
Transit to Koh Chang from Siem Reap – After the amazement of Angkor Wat, it’s time for some paradise. We transfer overland, back into Thailand, jump on a ferry and head down to one of Thailand’s paradise islands, Koh Chang. Sunset cocktails should be a nice end to the day.
Monday, December 12th to Wednesday 14th
Koh Chang – 3 full days of white sand beaches, gorgeous mountain hikes, and balmy waters. This is pure R&R. There are lots of activities on Koh Chang, but we’ll leave that up to you. You can chill the whole time, or get busy kayaking, rock climbing or partying.
Thursday, December 15th
Transit to Bangkok – Back on the ferry, and we head back to Bangkok overland, we’ll grab dinner in Bangkok and see what the night holds.
Friday, December 16th
GOODBYE! It’s time to bid our farewells, depending on flight times we can spend our last day in Bangkok doing some shopping and eating before heading back to the airport after the best 2 weeks ever!