Our GUESTHOUSE – so far!

In CategoryJohns blog


A work in progress –

A work of LOVE

A work of centuries of Khmer TRADITION

A work of ART

Approximate timeline so far


  1. Every year since 2008 groups have visited us from The Rotary Club of Beaudesert and friends from Australia – and from Antibes in France and Sweden:  BUT only once has a group stayed overnight in the villages – on the floors of my wonderful neighbours in Chuor Ph’av village; and with no beds, one toilet, no plumbing, no electricity, no clean water and no shop – the experience is daunting to the point of impossible.
  2. At least once a month and sometimes once a week I receive email offers to volunteer – to teach English or to nurse – and that would of course be fantastic, but, however regrettable, with nowhere to stay and no food and no security, so far I have had to say ‘no.’
  3. This is a very significant development for us. In all practical terms our schools are in an extremely remote location and yet heavily populated. According to Lonely Planet (and me) NO ONE visits this part of Cambodia – there are NO tourist attractions. A Guesthouse for OUR visitors and helpers is a HUGE development.

We will very soon have our Guesthouse, within the main village. There will be paid SECURITY, toilets, hot showers and a good kitchen all in a large traditional Khmer (Cambodian) house.

We will handle twos and threes in a room and larger groups upto twenty people  in the large open area upstairs (see photos) – on mattresses.


The Guesthouse is funded privately by three people – no ‘donated money’ whatsoever.


We still need to add: Front stairs, Back stairs, a ground floor awning to the right to double the tiled floor space, a large tiled ground floor, an array of solar panels probably on the ground behind the main building, bathrooms and kitchen off the tiled floor area (ground floor) and an awning to the left to accommodate vehicles.

In January 2015, ten Rotary members and friends will sleep in the guesthouse for two nights. So long as there are stairs by then, it will be possible. – Certainly I am thinking that it January it could be very much a ‘camping’ experience.

The PHOTOS begin with a very brief video showing the two rice fields; we were considering buying ONE……. WE BOUGHT BOTH.

We had to raise the land by one metre so we built a six metre deep fish pond to the far left and used the 2000 cubic metres of soil to raise our land.

Please ENJOY the photos and videos and I will post again as work continues.

I’ll let the photos largely ‘TALK FOR THEMSELVES’

Many of the photos are of wood arriving and being stored – over the past five months. It was impossible to find six and a half metre lengths of hardwood for the many octagonal support columns, so they are all five metres long. The first one and a half metres is concrete. This will be cleverly disguised with an octagonal ‘sheath’ of cement and painted suitably. (this is common practice).

As you look at the photos try to imagine the wood properly oiled, lots more work and front and back stairs. As I add photos later – all will become apparent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifCyaCxsPkk  There will be a few video links in todays post about the Guesthouse. On the assumption that at this stage a ‘click on it’ link doesn’t work – just copy the link and paste into your address browser please. The videos are just a few seconds long but worth seeing.

The first video (above) shows the two rice fields that we bought. We were only going to buy one field (rice paddy) but were are VERY pleased we bought both.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhzkyEV-ECk  This video (again if it doesn’t directly link please just copy it into the address line of your browser) follows the first.. Having bought the land we needed 2000 cubic metres of soil to raise the whole area – so now we have a six metre deep fish pond!

 Me front left, Chanthou using her calculator, Huot the Builder of the main structure (he doesn’t do stairs, kitchen, bathroom, plumbing, solar etc – but he does do a fabulous job of traditional Khmer building), and Chen our wood buyer (disappears into forests) and site coordinator. We have had many meetings like this. There are NO plans, drawings or measurements – so meetings are kind essential!!

 Deep foundations needed for what will become a very big and heavy building. ALL Cambodian hard wood.

As with all our projects, most of the work is done by locals and by hand.

if you’ve looked at the second video above you’ll know we have a HUGE fish pond to our immediate left, so providing us with the land fill to raise the whole are by one metre – so the first building job was a retaining wall to first hold the land and secondly to separate us from what is now our own fish pond

. we had four months of choosing, buying and storing wood.

  great old trucks delivered vast amounts of wood – as you will see almost the whole house is wooden.

 Delivering five metre lengths of hard wood that will become the heart of our Guesthouse.

Isn’t that just the best old truck you’ve ever seen!

Terracotta tiles arrive from the brickworks on the banks of The Mekong.

 Each tile is hand painted by local children to help make them strong and waterproof.

The ‘RAISING’ of the house is a ceremony and requires a lot of people. This A frame structure is moved around the site and used like scaffolding to raise the huge hard wood columns onto the concrete plinths (supports) (later these concrete supports will be painted).

The skeleton of the guesthouse takes shape.

The beginnings of an outside walkway to an open coffee room off to the right.

This photo shows quite clearly how the ‘raising’ works, with more columns and men waiting their turn.

Meanwhile behind the scenes lots of things are happening. These strips are being painted and decorated as part of the roof trim.

We brought in this diesel powered combination saw and plane. Its used all day every day, preparing weatherboards, flooring etc etc. This is a video of the machine in operation both sawing and planing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wcr4WoPmdNY

Our tuk tuk (see earlier blog posts) delivers window shutters (in this instance) to the house.

and so, with the floor in, its time to prepare the shutters for the next stage.

work on the roof starts – tiles on, edges and traditional Khmer ornamentation – and remember those painted strips earlier?

The upper floor from ground level. As will be discussed later the ground floor will be completely tiled and also contain the kitchen and bathrooms.

 shutters ready.

and more.

 After the shutters, the doors are fixed and last the internal wall and external weatherbords. The double doors to the right are eight feet high.

This will be a double room at the front. There will be a triple room towards the rear. The rest of this floor is open plan – photos below.

The triple or maybe four person room at the rear. Can also be set up as one large couples room with amazing views.

Our excellent builder, Huot.


 One of my personal favourites – the roof of the coffee area.

Me showing the hugeness of the areas

Taken from below the coffee room – note there’s a door through to the main room.

Some of the wood for stairs. It is massive. To cut cut for treads. See me pen on top to see the size.

and more stair wood.

Imagine all this finished and oiled. There is hundreds of years of tradition in this Guesthouse.Weatherboarding to go on and this room is finished.

Work on one of the verandah arches at the front.

Do you remember the six metre deep trench we dug to get the 2000 cubic metres of fill to raise the land? well its now a fish pond!

Very good so far we think so we give the wood gathering team a party.

Obviously lots more to come but we hope to most of it done by January. John.