Rotary Club of Beaudesert – Cambodia trip 16 – 24 January 2014.

In CategoryJohns blog

(If you scroll down a full year you’ll find the 2013 trip!)

This year – 121 new photos and notes!

different people, more people, a longer trip. more projects to check out and places to see. On this trip from The Rotary Club of Beaudesert Australia were Mark, Linda, Peter, Susie, Kara and Barbara – from The Interact Club (High School Rotary) of Beaudesert High School we had Tamara, Lauren and Niels (Niels is this years Rotary Exchange student and is from Denmark) – and Josh from near Dunedin New Zealand. Josh is a friend of my son Sam whose Otago Polytechnic students created this website.  Last but not least was  Hayden, an ex Rotaract member from Northern New South Wales. In addition, as you will see, we met up with a great group of Motor cyclists who had raised money for us – a very good trip!!

I’ve been sent photos, photos and more photos. The itinerary was:

Day 1. Arrive in Phnom Penh – markets and initial shopping.

Day 2. S21 (Tuol Sleng) and then the Killing Fields. Meet up with Cannonball Ride Motorbike Club (photos later) and, all together, go on a Mekong River Cruise.

Day 3. Our bus to Prey Veng Province, Kamchay Mear District and our villages. see the Chuor Ph’av Schools and lunch in the village. On to Prey t’Baing village to Antibes School. Then the 3 and a half hour trip to Kratie on the East bank of The Mekong and Oudom Sambath Hotel.

Day 4. Lots of things in the Kratie area. Sticky rice. Palm Sugar. a Temple. Turtles. Looking for rare dolphins. Mekong Rapids – resort lunch. The wonderful Sombok Mountain temple.

Day 5. The road to Kompong Cham, across to the west bank and the VIP Monorom Hotel. Kompong Cham Markets.

Day 6. The road to Siem Reap. Markets and another good hotel.

Day 7. Angkor Wat. The Bayon. Ta Prohm. In the evening a traditional dancing and musical show with our meal and out to the Siem Reap Night Markets.

Day 8. The bus trip down from Siem Reap via spiders to Phnom Penh.

Day 9. All the last minute souvenir shopping in Phnom Penh before the flight back to Australia….. and for Josh, on home to New Zealand.

So, what we’ll now do is take the days and events in order. Some photos will seem very similar but will perhaps feature one or more different people… so there are a LOT of photos..121 photos! Please enjoy.

 Day one!  No Lauren, you can’t take it home.

 These three were taken in one of my favourite places, The FCC – The Foreign Correspondents Club, Phnom Penh.

 Central Market (Psar Thmei – literally means ‘market new’) is a massive market under one of the worlds biggest domes. Lots of souvenirs from here.

Day 2. S21 and The killing Fields.

 S21 or Tuol Sleng had been a High School prior to the Khmer Rouge. It still looks at first glance like a School – till you get closer. All but seven of the more than 12,000 at this centre, were either tortured to death or killed in the Killing Fields. During the four year reign of utter terror there were many Torture centres and many Killing Fields

 Just some of the many tiny cells.

Of the 12,000 who were killed just seven survived. This Khmer man is one of them – Chum Mey. He has written a book – Survivor. He is pictured here with two of our group, Susie and Peter.

In the sections to your left you will find a history of The Khmer Rouge, S21 and of The Killing Fields. Today these are photos taken on our trip in January 2014.

The Killing Fields.

 Something quite moving and new has started since I was here last year – around all the mass grave sites, young visitors have taken off their own woven fashion bracelets and offered them as a kind of memorial.

 This is “The Killing Tree” the actual tree against which all the babies were bashed to death.

  A day at S21 and The killing Fields is VERY draining as it should be.

That night we met up with the ten people from the Australian Motorcycle Club – Cannonball Ride. They were formed in 2006 with the sole mission of raising funds and awareness for charities. Since then they have travelled over 64,000 kilometres. This trip, 2014 was their first trip outside Australia. I had spoken a lot with Kate from the club and they had already raised the money to pay more than a years salary for a nurse for our Clinic!. I had arranged to get their trip polo shirts made in Phnom Penh so it was great to finally meeting them in the evening for a boat trip on The Mekong:

There were 23 of us altogether on the boat trip. This is two of the Cannonball guys, Eric on the left and Jono. One of the logos reads Cambodia 2014.

 Me in white, Kate in stripes, with the combined groups. A great night.

 Paul taking a break on the lower deck with me. A great guy. At the end of their tour around Cambodia he found me in Phnom Penh and gave me a huge bag of medicines for our villages.

The day after the boat trip, while we started our trip north and east, the Cannonball group started their big ride. Here are four of their photos. Check out Angkor Wat with Motor bikes!

The Cannonball Ride Club didn’t only help US, they gave goods and medicines to several schools and organisations as they rode. Thank you so much guys.

The Schools

The next day we travelled north and east to Prey Veng province and our schools in Kamchay Mear District.

All of these photos are new and several display the new School sign at Chuor Ph’av.


We walked through and around the villages and had lunch.

 err You can’t take this cat home either.

 This is Wat, he is 12 years old. I attended his induction as a trainee monk. A large number of Khmer men have spent a few years as a monk. They learn a lot about compassion and helping the needy. As I’ve said many times in this site, Buddhism is the glue and social welfare that unites Cambodia. Wats big sister is Kamau who features several times in the ‘village life’ section to your left and is fourth from the left in our site banner (top of the website).

and last in this section – with my good friend the head monk – who loves cigars (which I buy for him very very cheaply in Cambodia). PS. please don’t tell me that Buddhist monks don’t smoke; they do in Cambodia.

Land for a guesthouse

Three people are going to fund the building of our Guesthouse. By this time next year we should be able to house people with a little more comfort than at present. We bought two adjacent rice fields and added 2000 cubic metres of soil to lift the land ready for building during the next dry season. We have started a retaining wall on the Northern side. The land has a fifty metre frontage with 60 metres depth.

 and we’ve started to buy some of the more expensive wood.

Antibes School

(please read the blog below to learn more about the Antibes School.)

After lunch we went to the nearby village of Prey t’Baing to catch up with the Antibes School.

There are many more photos of and inside the Antibes School in previous blogs on the Antibes School (thanks Hilary). After this huge piece of viewing check back through the Blogs. England also helps us a lot – look back to the incredible show that my friend Ros put on in Surrey.

We headed about three and a half hours north to a beautiful little town – Kratie (pronounced Kra – chay).. its on the east bank of the Mekong. We stayed two nights and saw lots of things and met great people.

 Lauren climbing a palm sugar tree! (probably to rescue a cat – just joking.)

 and the making of palm sugar just north of Kratie town.

at a temple a bit further along the bank.

 and yes, there were turtles – with Tamara.

We have been searching this stretch of the Mekong for rare Irrawaddy Dolphins every year for six years. We honestly see a great many but none from any group has ever managed to photograph one!

(Hooray. I edited in this paragraph and the photo below on March 5 2014! It turns out that Lauren – see photos before and after – had put her phone into movie mode and a screen shot – equivalent of a film frame – is below. They are a fairly uniform grey colour usually so I’m not sure what the white colouring is – I hope its normal! They are small dolphoins, certainly not much more than say 1.5 metres in length.)

Rapids Resort for lunch

 Chanthou negotiating choices and costs with the locals.

Although the land is mostly very flat there is, only 20 minutes north, along the bank, from Kratie town – Sombok Mountain – with a wonderful series of temples and temple buildings as we climb the steps.

 Kara and Niels.Hayden photographing the hundreds of steps and rows of Buddhas.

 Between places – some lunches and dinners

Dinner in Kompong Cham. We had left Kratie and travelled south and west along the east bank of the Mekong crossing to the west bank in Kompong Cham. We spent one night in the pretty market city.

A lunch stop between Kratie and Kompong Cham. It was a new place. I hadn’t been before. Very good, we will stop here again.

Dinner in Kratie

Angkor Wat, The Bayon and Ta Prohm.

We had two nights in Siem Reap, the city next to the enormous Angkor Wat complex.

 On the causeway leading to the biggest religious building in the world – Angkor Wat.

 Markets near the temples.

 Angkor Wat – busy.

 Linda, Kara and Mark.

 The incredible, awesome Angkor Wat. Cambodia is the only country in the world to feature a real building on its flag.

 ‘Oh the paparazi are sooo annoying.’ said Tamara.

 Outside The Bayon.

 Josh and Linda feed a monkey near The Bayon.


 Apsara – Heavenly dancers.

 The Bayon.

 Linda with one of the many faces.


 Tamara at Ta Promh.

 Ta Promh

 At Ta Promh, Tamara decides not to use the door.

Apsara Dance show and Dinner

On our second evening in Siem Reap.

 After the show we went to the Siem Reap Night Market – Josh.

Lunch – on the way back to Phnom Penh.

 Its deep fried tarantulas all round. First Josh.

 Tamara…. is it yummy?

 ahh, maybe not so yummy!

 and Kara.. Oh yes, just like mum used to cook… yum.

 anyone else … ?

If you have worked your way through all 121 photos in this Blog –  Well Done!!

It was a fabulous trip. Our villages gained and loved to see everyone and I know that all the visitors gained a lot too.

Throughout the site there are thousands of photos. If you have time please explore the Blog right from the beginning (or work your way back from today maybe!).. Please find the Donors page to your left and if possible please try to help financially; there is a Paypal link within the Donate section. 100% of your money comes to the schools through The Rotary Club of Beaudesert.

Thankyou very much from our 1080 children and all their families. John.














Antibes – Mougins – Oscar – Bewley – Cambodia – wow!

In CategoryJohns blog


This last weekend, Valentines weekend, didn’t just casually happen – it was the result of a lot of very hard work from whole teams of people.

As you can see from the Blog immediately below this one, the show was performed by the very wonderful Bewley Café Theatre team – an Oscar Wilde incredible double bill of ‘The Remarkable Rocket’ and then after an interval ‘The Happy Prince’.

Michael James Forde of Bewley Cafe Theatre on Cap d’Antibes on Valentine’s night.

These next four photos were taken during the second performance of The Happy Prince on February 15 2014.

Do you see the snow!? Yes, they didn’t just have coloured lights – they had a snow machine!


Next is Michael and Theatre Team right at the top of Cap d’Antibes by the lighthouse.

Hilary, below, is very much the European face and driving force of EducatingCambodia, our schools, Clinic and projects. Hilary lives in Antibes on the Cote d’Azur, France.  Hilary has rarely appeared in this website; she is simply brilliant – Antibes currently donates as much as the rest of the world combined – thanks Antibes, thanks Hilary. This photo was taken after the Valentines Show – with her husband Jean Pierre serenading the troupe and friends at home on Cap d’Antibes. xx


The weekend also saw the flowering of a relationship between our Schools in Cambodia and Mougins School ( between Antibes and Cannes on the Riviera).. … Hilary came up with the ‘Hearts’ idea over lunch with Louise and Sue from the School.

‘That’s a brilliant idea, we can do that!’ said Louise and Sue – and so it was that 200 children from Mougins decorated paper hearts and posted them to Phnom Penh.

I collected the hearts and opened the parcel in our Cambodian classrooms. Mougins had enclosed 200 ‘blank’ hearts… Our Kamchay Mear children had never used a crayon – or paint or felt tips. We bought boxes of crayons.

The results are remarkable. I posted the Cambodian hearts back to France and sent photos by email.

The hearts arrived at Mougins on Valentines Day, the very day of the first of two performances on Cap d’Antibes.  The photos of the hearts from Cambodia are below and this is part of an email that I received TODAY from Mougins School:-

“ We received the hearts and it was perfect timing. …Valentine’s Day! I brought the package to the Valentine’s assembly and showed a short film of us all decorating and receiving hearts to the tune of “Happy” by Farell Williams.The kids loved it. We opened the package in the afternoon and gave out the hearts to every class. I gave a little speech saying that Mougins School was about learning from each other ……. in speaking different languages or looking  or acting differently we can learn from each other and share our experiences. We all have alot in common and we all love our family, friends and are happy!

The children were very excited to receive the hearts. We now need to help them to understand that some children in Cambodia, parents and grandparents have never learnt to read or write before. They are really beginning to learn how to hold a pencil and draw for the first time. it’s hard for our children to understand this. We at Mougins have a lot to learn and teach our children so thank you so much for giving us this opportunity. We look forward to the next exchange!  Love from Mougins School.”


Here are some of the Cambodian hearts being coloured with notes below:-


Antibes has not only cared for the ‘Antibes School’ but very much helped with all three schools and the clinic AND the teachers house. We asked the Two Chuor Ph’av Schools to receive and enjoy and return the two hundred Hearts. I am only telling you this because The Antibes School is freshly painted whereas as you’ll see in the photos, the Chuor Ph’av ‘campus’ is desperate for a coat of paint. (it’s OK, it will get done this year).

The other intriguing thing to see in the heart photos is that the desks are covered in what we would call graffiti. There is no (zero) graffiti anywhere in Cambodia. Teachers EXPECT students to decorate their desks with notes and squiggles!

Today in addition to the hearts there will be a few Ozzy trip photos – just to encourage EVERYONE to visit!

I say, and mean, please everyone – come and visit. By this time next year we will have built our “Guest House’ in the villages; so It will, for the first time, be a reasonably comfortable stay near our schools.

In an earlier blog I talked about the possibility of a GUESTHOUSE actually in one of our villages close to the schools. Well – it IS happening and I’ll tell you lots more about that in a blog next week and as the building goes up, news will unfold. The Guesthouse for visitors and volunteers is being totally and  separately funded by three people.

This is the land that we have JUST bought.


It has a 50 metre frontage and is 60 metres deep. It WAS two rice fields so we have, as you can see, added 2000 metres of soil to take the land well above flood levels and up to road height. (more next week.)

Everyone wants updates on children and families that we are watching grow. I had told Antibes the latest on Nang and daughter Peery.

Nang, our miracle mother recently dropped from 45kg to 26 kg but is now up again to 35 kg. Nang has Myesthenia Gravis which would have killed her time and again here.. but we fight with her. Nang and our struggles and the loss of many are our inspiration for The Clinic.

Nang is a wonderful mother and her daughter Peery in blue is a joy and very bright.


I update a lot of our village children on the website. Chanthay ( remember the brick teddy bear?) is in yellow.. These photos were taken on January 30th 2014.


We are working closely with The Cambodian Government. They have very little money but can make decisions. I’ll explain more next week but briefly, we have a government recognised Clinic and Pharmacy (built by YOU) and the government will provide us with visiting Doctors and the first nurse (the female nurse standing on the right of two male Doctors) and WE will fund-raise for a District ambulance. The ambulance we want is a large second hand American ambulance costing US$20,000. If we had the money we would buy it tomorrow – this is it in a sale yard in Phnom Penh.


We have no transport between the villages and so a Beaudesert Rotarian is donating the money for a Troop carrying style tuk tuk. We will get this in April. This is the model we are looking at.

Trip from Australia.

So these four photos are four of hundreds from my guided tour of Cambodia. (I’ll do a BIG posting of that Australian trip next week along with a whole range of updates). The Trip photos were taken over the last three weeks of and by The Australian visitors. The tour actually takes months of organising and negotiating … but it’s well worth it. These four photos are just a taste of what’s to come next week. Nine days in Cambodia by The Rotary Club of Beaudesert:

It was a day longer than this time last year..

These photos are

1. 100s of steps leading up to Sombok Mountain temple on the Mekong near Kratie. 

2. Trying and succeeding to find the very rare fresh water Mekong Dolphins.

3. A floating tethered raft picnic spot in rapids on the Mekong.

4. I’m not showing you ANOTHER photo of Angkor Wat… this is the Australian group on January 22nd 2014 in an outer walkway, 800 years old – at Angkor Wat.


If you look for blogs around one year ago you’ll see that the trip is longer this year.

Thank you to all our friends everywhere and today it’s a huge Merci beaucoup to the families of Antibes and Mougins School.

Much Love from us, all of our children and families to all the children and families in France and everywhere… xx

PS next week the Australian tour of Cambodia.

Valentines weekend -Antibes France – Bon Chance

In CategoryJohns blog

A large number of people from the  community of Antibes, France are major donors and very much partners in our Schools, Clinic and Village projects. We know we are all in this together.

There’s a special (they are all special) fund raising show over Valentines weekend. The Antibes community love what we do and so I encourage everyone within travelling distance of Cap d’Antibes to join in the fun.

Mougins School is close to the beautiful old town of Antibes and our schools have all teamed up to learn about each other and help support the Cambodian side of things! In the next posting, after the show nights, I’ll tell you lots more about Mougins School and the Chuor Ph’av Schools (pronounced Joo Pow).

In a third posting in two weeks from now I’ll add around 30 more photos from the Rotary Club of Beaudesert visit and tour around Cambodia – that was two weeks ago.

So, the SHOW:

On the 14th and 15th of February,  ‘The Bewley Cafe Theatre team who performed the fabulous Dorian Grey in November will be performing an Oscar Wilde double bill!! 40 minutes of  ”The Remarkable Rocket’

then an interval followed by ‘The Happy Prince’…

  Its great family entertainment.


Both of Oscar’s stories star the very wonderful  Michael James Forde … and this Valentines show is happening on the Friday and again on Valentines night – Saturday –  on Cap d’Antibes.

Bon Chance from the children, the teachers and all the families in the Kamchay Mear District of Cambodia. John.