Lauren visited during January 2018 – and what did Lauren do?

In CategoryJohns blog


It was Christmas 2017 when we last wrote and it’s now late January 2018 – Today is a big post with 90 photos and eight short videos. First though I’ll give you the introductory paragraphs which explain the way we work, what to expect in this website and information about donated money, without which we could not exist and are very grateful for: The “DONATE” Page is now as SECURE and as SIMPLE as it could possibly be:


1. If you use the Paypal button (Donate Page to the left of screen) we have your DONATION available to us in Cambodia within TWO DAYS of you clicking ‘send’. 2.The RAWCS  (Rotary Australia World Community Service) is now a ‘hyperlink” and that is through Rotary (obviously) and gets to us within a week.  The hyperlink is  (click on it and search for our project – The project name is  “Cambodia 55 2007-08″ …. we were registered as that name and number – International project – BEFORE naming it EducatingCambodia, so the above registration name and number is how to find us  through this RAWCS donation pathway- it will take you one minute to find the project. Its up to you which you might choose – PayPal or RAWCS – Members of Rotary tend to choose the Rotary (RAWCS)  link and that is partly because  – within Australia donations are tax deductible – for anyone.  ANYONE can donate through either the Paypal link OR the RAWCS link. The PayPal link is easier and just as secure but Rotarians might prefer the Rotary pathway. We will start with introductory notes for all first time visitors to our website: The paragraphs below, in italics, appear before every post. (If you would like to talk with us, the ‘Contacts’ Page is near the top of the Contents list to your left – along with how to ‘Donate’ and lots more.) “If you are new to our projects or haven’t visited this site for a while –here’s how it works: Whenever you open the site, first-up, you come to the very latest post or ‘blog,’ like this one – and through the years now, we have hundreds of posts and several thousand original photos, all with their own notes. We have over 1340 primary age pupils. Our aim or mission is to provide basic primary education – maths, reading and writing in their own Khmer language, Science and General Studies including History, Geography, health, nutrition and hygiene. Join us please; we pay absolutely no one, no one at all except Cambodian teachers. We have no office or computer staff or administration costs. We rely on your financial help to pay the teachers, maintain the buildings and buy the books. If you like what you see, please find the ‘Donate’ page to the left of your screen and try to help us. (There is also a Donors page which lists all our donors of $500 or above). There’s lots of advice on the site about what money can buy for our children.”

so now – today’s post –

It is an unusual post this month as will infold. Only partly, it is unusual in that almost all the photos have already appeared on both my own Facebook wall and on the EducatingCambodia Facebook Page. Another unusual aspect is explained in red (again) about half way through the post. BUT perhaps the main reason for any duplication is that many of my older friends never or rarely see Facebook. This website is promoted through Facebook, twitter, word of mouth and EMAILS!!

Lauren brings more much appreciated hats


We are a 100% Secular Government School. We are situated right next to the village temple on Government land. A good friend of mine is the ‘Abbot’ who called round to say ‘hello.’    They are a beautifully friendly group of teachers – Seven on duty for today’s morning shift. Remember there are two totally different ‘shifts’ every day. Half the children are early morning to early afternoon and the other half are afternoon to early evening.

As you know from the Christmas post, below this one) we made our December payment to our teachers and handed out hats from Our Lady of The Rosary Kindergarten in Brisbane – Today, above, lots more very welcome hats brought by Lauren from Australia. Luckily we had the perfect sized class for the number of hats…. and there are more to come when visitors arrive during February!.


The five photos above have just been given to me by teachers. The first is of a new teacher (replacement with details to come) and the rest are taken by Teacher Ren Soth who sometimes takes our photos.

 I’ll write more about Lauren’s time with us as we go along. The photo above was taken by Lauren and shows a simple small diesel powered thrashing machine that separates rice from husks. ( and one of our village girls)


Three photos and the video show us moving a small but very heavy Chicken house to the Guesthouse.Three years back you could find a much larger chicken house being moved by 50 people through the village – this time it’s through the village to us, and the chickens now live at rear of the Guesthouse.

Over the years there have been a number of photos and notes regarding all the travelling sales people – from bedding and beds to food, pots and pans and clothes.Today a small truck travelling through the villages with cheap plastic and kitchen ware.

Its wedding saeson. The crops are in and people come to their home villages for weddings and village parties. Cambodia is tied to its villages. The village elders control passports and all working and ID documents. People love their home village. All weddings and funerals happen back in the person’s home village. In the case of weddings, it is a maternal society with the new husband usually moving into his wife’s mother’s home.


Grabeh – water buffallo – are rarely eaten. They are the basic strong reliable workers of the fields and pullers of carts. (lots of grabeh photos from earlier years are within this site.)


Sorry for the poor photo quality of the above four photos but I think its worth posting them. Once a year every village temple and Wat (monastery) holds a HUGE fair – the nearest western comparison would be village fete cum harvest festival except this is much MUCH bigger. You can just make out the Beaudesert Rotary School sign in the first photo… we were the motor bike park. More than 5000 people came and there was a traditional show on stage – like a pantomime with local themes.

 one more fair photo. You can see Lauren in the midst of the group.

   Four photos to do, at least in part, with honey. Honey that we in the west buy in jars and comes from hives, is regarded here as FAKE HONEY.  In rural Cambodia they climb trees at enormous risk and break off pieces of wild honey comb. all parts of the comb are used and consumed and also used in ceremonies. it plays a large part in healing and promoting healthy re-growth.

In the other three photos above, while the baby’s mother is away working in a garment factory, the baby, held by her grandmother is protected by a twist of village beeswax her mother personally put in the hair before leaving for a few weeks in the factory. This belief is a spiritual belief and probably pre-dates Buddha (2500 years ago). Early visitors know the mother, Danni, our first Guesthouse keeper.


Do you like the jewelry that Seyneang made? Sreyneang aged ten is Rot’s daughter. Rot was Nang’s uncle – so making Sreyneang an aunt to Peery. (if you have no idea about this story or lineage, you wont regret reading ‘Nang’s Story” – see the index.)

Now have a close look at the bangle (or ring) – Sreyneang has made it out of interwoven drink can pull rings. Aluminium. (I am now the proud owner of several and of different sizes.)

A woman named Zoe ( many Beaudesert people know Zoe Fields) is coming here in just a few more days time along with Mark and Linda from Beaudesert. The above post is from Zoe’s daughter Carrie. Their  love of what we do in our villages has moved both to help us in big ways. I am looking forward to picking up Zoe, Linda and Mark at the airport on February 7. Corrinne and John arrive later.( Mark. Linda, Zoe and Corrinne are major donors already (see the Donors Page.)

My dear friends Hilary and Jean Pierre in Avignon are working so hard with their new Theatre (Le 9). If you look through the years Hilary’s theatre support for us from Antibes has made Hilary very much my partner and regards everything we do as OUR SCHOOLS. The astute reader may have seen my frequent use of ‘OUR’ .. they are not any one persons 1300 children – they are OUR children.. There’s another show coming up and adverts for it are already on Facebook and I’ll include news about THAT show here, next month.

We now move into Lauren’s holiday. From hereon there is nothing about the schools. So why put it all HERE??

I have brought Lauren and Chanthou from the village along with Chanthai, our Guesthouse keeper (used to be Danni – see above). Chanthai gets an opportunity to see of her own country!

We explore Phnom Penh and an enormous Fairgound and then four of the best days ever in the very far south-west corner of Cambodia – Koh Kong.

Since our beginning – visitors have explored Ratanakiri in the far north east, Angkor Wat in the north west, The killing Fields, the south east border regions, Kratie in the east and Kompongcham in the centre – and all those adventures are here on this website.

Basically the next photos and notes TODAY are SIMPLE BAIT. We want you to donate to our Schools and visit and after or before you make it to our remote villages let us take you on the holiday of a lifetime in Cambodia ‘The Kingdom of Wonder.”


Diamond Island (Koh Pich) is within the Mighty Mekong at Phnom Penh. It has a recent sad history just a few years ago while I was there. 350 young people were crushed to death trying to get off the island over a narrow bridge. I saw the aftermath and Calmette Hospital bravely trying to deal with a mixture of tangled bodies and survivors. The bridge is now completely replaced and Diamond Island is againn enormous fun….I’ve posted photos from the fairground before; do you like Lauren’s scooter dodgem car?

Before heading south west on a bus we called in at my all time favourite pharmacy. (video above). Actually I mostly took this video to show my Sydney Pharmacist daughter, Jenny, who will be HERE this time next year!

The map marks Koh Kong town with an ‘A’ with the Thai border at the lowest end of the line with the beach just acroos to the east and then south on the Cambodian side of the border. The Mangrove forests are right through an enormous maze of coastal channels and Ta Tai is an hour by tuk tuk and boat into the mountains – Cardaman Mountains.

On Facebook we have received more ‘likes’ for the photo above of Chanthou in red and of Chanthai and Lauren at a small waterfront table than any other photo we’ve posted. Our hotel for four nights was 100 metres left and past that bridge – the bridge to Thailand. That was our first evening.

.. and then, later the same evening on this side of the bridge to Thailand at our Hotel restaurant.


The following day we spent in the mangrove channels.


With my somewhat inadequate legs I am pleased that I made it up 100s of steps of an observation tower and took the elevated photos.


This is a closeup from the tower of Chanthai pretending to hide and saying hello and next, Chanthou and Lauren pretending to fish.


…and so into our boat and a cruise through the mangrove channels.

The three short videos above are I trust, self explanatory

The next day, we travel by tuk tuk across the bridge that WOULD take us to Thailand – but just over the bridge we turn sharp west and then sharp south to one of South East Asia’s best kept secret beaches ( I know where it is, so come here and we’ll take you). [The white hotel with the red roof is our hotel.]


…and so our our special beach. Enjoy the short video.


As I say, one of South East Asia’s best kept secret little beaches.

         The next day it was back over the long bridge but this time we continued to the border checkpoint with Thailand. The three girls went and I stayed in a cafe just inside Cambodia to wait for them.  Chanthou went over for a maximum three hours using her ordinary National ID. Chanthai had forgeotten hers and that could have stopped her crossing ….. Lauren should have paid US$50 for a Thai visa and another US$40 for a Cambodian visa (her visa expires on leaving Cambodia, even for three hours.) We solved all problems with US$5 which got Chanthai through on Chanthou’s ID and Lauren didn’t need a Vietnam visa for the three hours stay. All fine.


They returned – Lauren paid for a visa, everyone was happy with the markets on the Thai side of the border and they met me back in my cafe. All fine. (AND Lauren got the Thai stamps in her passport that she’d been looking forward to.) Lauren and Chanthai outside our hotel.


An hours tuk tuk drive north east from our Koh Kong town hotel and then a magical boat trip up stream into the Cardaman Mountains.

Enlarge some of the photos; it is a truly beautiful area and a wonderful day was had by everyone. There are a few very nice eco-resorts along the river banks.


These falls are the Ta Tai waterfalls and the area is known as Ta Tai. We moored the boat and clambered over rocks to the pool and big sitting rocks.


It really was a wonderful fourth day in Koh Kong Province. All the time there was magical.


… and returning to our hotel, this was our evening view. You can just make out Lauren in the first photo.

We hope you enjoyed Lauren’s holiday.

Please help us – donate a little if you can and visit our schools AND ‘The Kingdom of Wonder’  John.

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