Category Archives: Arielle

Miraculous Mexico – Part 2

Campervan

We have been in our Campervan since the 8th July and these are the campsites we have stayed in:

1. Oaxaca – On the first day of campervanning, we only went to a supermarket to buy supplies and camped in a place 10 minutes outside of Oaxaca.

2. Tehuantepec – On the drive to the next campsite, we stopped at a little swimming hole next to a rock feature that looks like a petrified waterfall.  We camped in a hotel car park.  It felt a bit weird because we had to argue lots before they let us in

3. Sima de Los Cotorras – we stopped at another water feature – an anonymous waterfall with freezing water.  When you went under it felt like stones were being thrown at you.  We camped at a huge sinkhole full of green parrots.  We got up at 06:00 to see them all fly out.  After that, we got into harnesses and walked around the rim of the sinkhole, seeing ten thousand year old cave paintings.  I felt really scared because there was only a teeny bit of rock to walk on!

4. Chiapas de Corzo – That night we parked on the town square.   It felt so odd eating on the street because everyone stared at us! In the morning we went to a huge gorge with spider monkeys and crocodiles.

5. San Cristobal de las Casas – We stayed in a proper campsite for three nights.  It was near a really touristy town that only had endless souvenir shops.  We had falafel for dinner one night.  We also went horse riding to a town called Chamula. In Chamula, we visited a church where people don’t worship Jesus, they worship John the Baptist and they also have odd traditions like sacrificing chickens and lighting lots of candles. Also, they drink soft drinks and burp.  They believe that they are burping out their sins.

6. Palenque – On the drive to the next place, I threw up three times!  Our campsite was near a huge Mayan city called Palenque.  The site had huge temples and intricate carvings still preserved after hundreds of years.  The kings who lived there were called: Pakal – Sunshield, Khan Bah Alarm II – Jaguar Serpent, Precious Peccary and Turtle Macaw Lake.  It felt amazing seeing 700 year old carvings that are still intricately beautiful.  I felt like the Mayans were right next to me.

7.  Lake Bacalar – We camped at a beautiful azure blue lake, swimming, kayaking and doing lots of school.  We also swam at night and swam naked as well.  The water always felt really cool.

8. Tulum – We camped at a small campsite with a swimming pool, very close to some cenotes.  A cenote is a sinkhole filled with water.  A sinkhole is a hole that is created when water drains through the earth and eats away at the earth underneath, until you are eventually left with a large hole.  Another kind of sinkhole forms when the roof of an underground cave falls in and the cave fills with water.  In Mexico, these are called Cenotes. The first cenote was very deep and very cold.  There was a baby crocodile in the water but we didn’t get eaten.  The next morning we swam in a huge cave with stalagmites and stalactites everywhere.  There were also turtles there.  It felt really awesome swimming in a cave.  #nevergoingtoparkroadagain

9. Suytun Cenote – We stayed at another place with cenotes.  The cenotes were underground and get no sunlight so the water is freezing cold.  It felt really creepy underground.

10.  Rio Lagartos – The last place was a beach.  In the morning we took a boat and saw: cormorants, pelicans and… flamingoes. We got really close to them and I took some amazing pictures!  It was really boiling but we cooled off at a local beach.

 

Miraculous Mexico – part 1

Mexico is our very last country on our around the world trip.  We have seen many old things (like the ancient remains of Teotihuacan and the coral reefs of Cabo Pulmo) and new things (such as Mexico City).  This is an account of my time in Mexico so far.

Mexico City

On our first day, we went to Frida Kahlo’s house.  We saw a lot of her art and sculptures as well as her:  painting room, bedroom and kitchen.  After, we took a taxi to an indoor market to eat tostadas, which are crackers but a bit more crispy.  I had mine with prawns, my sister had chicken and my dad had ceviche (raw fish).  My mum, Eden and I bought Frida Kahlo t-shirts!  The next day, we visited the museum of anthropology.  We saw: a statue of the serpent god, the stone of the sun, Mayan dental work and other countless artefacts.  For summer we went to a sushi restaurant for amazing sushi and sashimi.  On Thursday, we went to the ancient remains of Teotihuacan.   First, we took a long ‘Avenue of Death’ to get to the sun pyramid.  It was a very hard climb up the sun pyramid, but at the top, we sacrificed Eden in exchange for rain.  On our way back, we also saw:  the moon pyramid, the butterfly temple and a painting of a puma.  And the next day, I was really ill.

Cabo Pulmo

We stayed with my amazing cousins, Lucas and Lola and their awesome parents, Carmel and Pablo.  Our flight got in at about ten o’clock so we couldn’t go fishing with Lucas and Pablo.  They left at 5am!  After breakfast, we went out to snorkel with…SEA LIONS!!!  They were all on a big rock but some jumped into the turquoise sea to swim with us!  Using the tuna Lucas and Pablo caught, Carmel made amazing tuna sushi, some raw tuna and tuna in bread crumbs.  While we were there, my mum and I went snorkelling and saw:  stripy fish, fish no bigger than my pinky nail, tiny blue fish, butterfly fish, connet fish and scorpion fish.

Copper Canyon

We arrived in Copper Canyon by train and then took a taxi to our hostel.  We couldn’t actually see the canyon there but we did see some cool mountains.  Our next hotel was an odd place in the middle of a village called Barancas.  We took a walk and we saw the gargantuan Copper Canyon.  The next day my mum and I went zip lining across the canyon, going really fast through the huge canyon.  At the end, we were really hot and sweaty.  We took a cable car back to Eden and my dad.

Puebla

Puebla is the place to go if you want to buy Talavera, the beautiful blue patterned tiles.  We went to a Talavera factory to watch how they are sculpted, polished, fired, painted and varnished.  The most common design was a hummingbird surrounded by beautiful patterns.

Oaxaca

In Oaxaca we volunteered at a school for very poor Oaxacan children. We went every morning and did our own school in the afternoon.  We taught the kids English nouns and maths through:  bingo, charades, drawing and snakes and ladders.  Oaxaca is the centre for Alebriges, beautifully painted animal figures.  We saw the figures being carved and painted in a tiny town outside of Oaxaca.  After seeing them being painted, we painted some ourselves.  I did a coyote, Eden did a hummingbird, my mum did an owl and my dad did a fish.  We had grasshoppers for lunch!

That evening, my dad got an allergic reaction, so we had to go to the hospital at 8pm.  Eden and I watched a movie while my dad had injections.  I had a stomach problem in Oaxaca.

We picked up a campervan in Oaxaca but I’ll write about that in my next blog.

 

Lava Loving Nicaragua

The first place we visited was Granada, a small town near Lake Nicaragua. One our first day, we took a horse and cart on a tour of the area seeing: an old train station, a cemetery and a church. After we went to a cafe to cool down. The cafe was run by deaf people, and there were posters up and down the wall with sign language on them. We walked around the market for a bit and then went to get a Nicaraguan lunch: gallo pinto (beans and rice), eggs and tortilla bread for my dad, my mum and Eden. Instead, I got chicken fajitas, tortilla bread and rice. After lunch we went for a swim in our hotel pool. The next day, my mum and I went to take photos of the city, trying to spot details. We stopped at a cafe for a drink afterwards.

The second place we visited was Ometepe, an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. We were staying in an ecolodge named Finca Mystica (mystic farm). It was a bit like Black Sheep Inn (see Ecuador blog), but very hot and humid. They only prepared organic food; everything was homemade, from bread to chilli flakes and they grew everything. When we were there we: rode horses to a waterfall, climbed a volcano, swam in Lake Nicarague, went to Ojes de Agua (a natural swimming pool) and played with the dogs. The dogs there were: Luna, a black and orange dog, mother to Sunny, a huge, mostly orange dog and Chicken, a grey dog that liked being stroked. We also went kayaking and saw, millions of tadpoles, an iguana and a caiman.

The third place we visited was Playa Marsella, near San Juan del Sur. It has a few guest houses, two restaurants, two hostels and of course a fabulous beach. We usually did school until lunch and then went swimming until supper. There is also a large community of Americans living here. We also went surfing. Eden and I were pretty good at it my mum fell off every time she got on!

The next three places we visited were: Matagalpa, Finca Esperanza Verde (a coffee plantation) and Leon. We visited them with our friends, Michelle and Julianne (see Ecuador blog). After coming from Playa Marsella, we met them in Managua airport, got into our rental van and drove to Matagalpa. Michelle and Julianne’s father Ray was a doctor in Nicaragua, fighting with the Sandinistas against the Contras and I guess he must have been a bit sad to see how Matagalpa and Nicaragua had changed.

The next day, we visited a chocolate factory called Castillo de Cocao (Cocao Castle) and found out how to turn a cocao bean into a chocolate bar. When we got back to our hostel we did a show about how to make cocoa beans into a chocolate bar, because Ray had not been there. Finca Esperanza Verde was a small coffee plantation high in the mountains. While we were there we: went on breathtaking walks, played with the dogs, enjoyed Nicaraguan food, went on a tour of the coffee plantation and saw a sloth in the wild!

The third place, Leon, was an old town with markets, museums and parks. On our first day, we went volcano boarding down Cerro Negro. The experience was incredible, with dust in your face and rocks in your goggles. On our second day we went to the Nicaraguan revolution museum, learning about revolutions around the world. After lunch we walked around the beautiful market in the main square. Julianne bought a bag, Eden bought a necklace and I bought an owl bracelet. Our last day was in Managua. It was really hot by the time we got there, so we went swimming.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Ecuad0r’s awes0meness🇪🇨🇪🇨

We have been in Ecuador for 3 weeks now, so I have decided to write my blog.

Places 1 + 2 – Guayaquil and Quito

First place was in Guayaquil, a hot town by the coast. We stayed for a day but then we embarked on a bus ride to Quito.

On our first day we went on a cable car up to a volcano named Pichincha and went on an hour long walk. After, we went for lunch at an Indian restaurant but on the way we met another family with kids so we all went to the Indian restaurant. After, we explored around the old town of Quito, seeing new things and trying fried bananas. The next day, my dad was ill🤕. In the morning we did school and then we went ice skating!!!!!! Then, we went for ice cream at Baskin Robbins! I chose blue raspberry sherbet and candyfloss and my sister had rainbow sherbet and candyfloss.

Place 3 – Black Sheep Inn

Black Sheep Inn (BSI) is our third place, beautiful and environmentally friendly. BSI has a yoga room, hot tub, sauna, disc golf course (highest in the world!), volleyball and horseshoe courts and lovely (but tiring!) hikes. The animals here are: llamas🌺, dogs🐶, black sheep🐑, a pig,🐷 chickens🐓, and a cat🐱. While we have been here, we have: gone on endless hikes, rode horses near a volcano, saw a massive volcanic lake at Quilotoa, met amazing people, and did things with our new friends, Michelle and Julianne🖤.

😎😎 What makes BSI an eco lodge is: the eco-toilets, the vegetarian food, the fires in each room (no central heating!) and the recycling.

Black Sheep Inn is good at recycling is because they:

1.Set up the local recycling centre.
2.Recycle absolutely anything that goes into the bins.
3. Help teach the local school about recycling.

The instructions for the eco-toilets are:
1. Go into the loo.
2. Sit, poop, and enjoy the plants that are in front of you to make it even more eco friendly.
3. Scoop some dry wood shavings on to help decompose the poop.
4. Wash your hands.
5. After a few weeks, it will be compost, helping the plants to grow.
6.When you wash your hands, the water goes down a pipe to water
the plants in front of you.

The dogs🐶 we have met here are: Toffee, a brown and white dog, Cara, a small black dog with copper coloured ears, Monkey, a skinny dog coloured with hundreds of shades of brown, a ginormous Saint Bernard at a wood work factory and two cute, tiny puppies outside a house.

On one of the days we were here, we arranged an Olympics course because there are lots of sports to play here.

We also think the staff here are extremely friendly and welcoming. We absolutely recommend BSI to anyone!

Next stop, Cuenca.

Place 4 – Cuenca

Cuenca is both a very old city, with extremely modern parts and old markets which spread all around. To get there, we took a 11 hour bus journey from Black Sheep Inn.

On our first day we got up early to make a chocolate cake because we were going to my great uncle’s house. We got there by taxi, and when we got there, we sat on the balcony and ate crisps and talked and looked at old family photos. For lunch we had Caesar salad for starters, seafood pasta for main course and for dessert we had our chocolate cake and a special Cuencan fruit cake.Then the adults talked for ages!

The next day, my dad, Eden and I went swimming in the thermal baths of Cuenca, but on the way, it started to pour with rain! So, we took a taxi to the indoor pool at the football stadium but it was closed!!! So, in the end, we just went to the thermal baths and that was lovely.

The very next day I was super excited because we were going out for sushi!🍣🍣🍣🍣🍣

We walked through the market for a bit and I bought a scarf and Eden bought a poncho. For our lunch at the sushi restaurant, I had: prawn nigiri (nigiri is rice at the bottom and a topping at the top), prawn tempura and onions in tempura batter. After, we walked around with Anna-Maria (our great uncle’s wife) and got ice cream! (flavours: nutella and oreo ice cream)

The next day Eden and I went with my mum to get her hair cut at a very fancy hairdressers and then we had chicken sandwiches for lunch.

Thank you so much for reading my blog!

Preposterous Peru

PERU is a very odd country, with subtropical jungle climates and freezing temperatures in Cusco. Here are 5 paragraphs about everything we did in Peru.

1, We went to help at a school in the mountains, near a tiny town called Curahuasi. It wasn’t that fun because the school was only for toddlers but my parents had more fun. Other than helping out at the school we: went to some lovely natural baths called Conok next to the Apurimac gorge, went on a long walk up a mountain called San Cristobel and went to a freezing but beautiful swimming pool called Lukmos. The school didn’t just look after normal children, it also looked after children with disabilities. One child was blind, and had been locked in his room for 19 years because he couldn’t work on the farm! Every day the kids would do: music, eat snacks, free play, brush their teeth, play outside and other stuff. The activities changed each day but on Friday they usually did painting or chalk or play doh. The school was hosted on a farm, so we sometimes fed the pigs or watched the guinea pigs or played with the dogs. After the children arrived they had lunch, and then lessons started.

2. Next we went to help out at an animal shelter near Puerto Maldonado, a remote town in the jungle. The animals they looked after were: duski, wooly, capuchin, tamarin, and red howler monkeys, parrots, macaws, toucans, peccaries (man eating pigs) and a baby sloth. We were looking after Cesar, the wooly monkey, Tammy, the tamarind monkey, Monica the duski monkey and Agi the baby sloth! We had to wake up at seven every morning to prepare the animal’s food. We would then do painting, building or whatever we could help with. Then we would eat a Peruvian lunch. After lunch we would prepare the animal’s afternoon meal and deliver it to them. After that we would help out with whatever needed doing until supper.

3. My cousins arrived on April the 3rd and we all explored around Ollantaytambo (the sacred valley) . On our first day we drove to Pisaq, stopping at Saqsaywaman (ancient Inca remains also known as sexy woman) . On our second day we drove to Ollantaytambo town stopping at Salineras, Moray and Chinchero.

Salineras is a great wide salt flat in the shape of stairs which most people use to extract salt. Moray is shaped like an amphitheatre which the Incas used as an experiment. They tried to see on which row the crops would grow best. Chinchero is the weaving capital of Peru. We went there, and wove bracelets on a traditional loom!
On our third day we went horse riding up a mountain and saw what used to be an amazing Incan pyramid.

4. Fourth day, Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was an old citadel inhabited by Incas. It only took fifty years to build the most spectacular Incan city in the world. But when the Spaniards invaded, Machu Picchu was forgotten and overgrown with jungle. In 1911 an American explorer named Hiram Bingham found Machu Picchu and helped turn it into the touristy area we see today. Marvelous and huge, we explored it for hours.

Awesome Alert: if you go to Machu Picchu, look at the mountains behind the ruins and you might see a face forming. The small, circle shape is the eye, the tallest is the nose and the bumpy ones at the end are the mouth and chin.

5.Our very last stop in Peru was Manu, another part of the Amazon . First we had to take an eight-hour drive to our lodge, stopping to see: the cock of the rock (national bird of Peru), walk a bit and explore waterfalls. The next day we carried on driving for a bit and we then stopped at an animal shelter with animals roaming around freely! We: held monkeys, cuddled baby sloths, stroked tapirs and watched baby camens. When we finally got to our lodge we all went swimming in the extremely muddy Amazon river. The third day we had to go on a long walk to a lake, seeing wild squirrel and duski monkeys. When we arrived we went rowing for a bit and then, when we got back we went swimming again!

Thanks for reading my blog!

Brilliant Brazil

We arrived in Brazil at the start of February. First of all we were in Rio De Janeiro, a Brazilian city on the coast. We arrived late at night, so we couldn’t explore. The first day we went to see the Selaron steps. They had loads of tiles and mosaics on the stairs (I will show some pictures at the bottom). The second day we went to some football. We won! The funny thing was that we scored at the very start and at the very end!

The third day we spent all day at the beach! Before we went to the beach, my parents did hang gliding. We splashed in the sea all day and then walked happily home.

Our second place was Inhotim, an outside art gallery which is one thousand acres. It has 24 separate galleries! My favourite gallery was the Cosmococa gallery. It had: the pillow fight room, a freezing indoor swimming pool and a hammock room. Another awesome room was the Red Room. Everything from dressing gowns to sofas were red. Even the food inside the fridge was red!!! We had to get an overnight bus ride to the next place, which was Brasilia which is Brazil’s capital.

We stayed in an awfully posh hotel, with 16 floors! Brasilia had lovely architecture and art but the city itself wasn’t so nice. We went to a Japanese restaurant in Brasilia and they had an all you can eat deal so we ate at least 30 plates of Japanese food!

We had to get an aeroplane to the next place we visited, Salvador. We arrived on a Tuesday, which is the day they have all the outside music and it was also the last Tuesday before Carnival so it was mad. We walked around for a while and then had a HUGE lunch.

My dad went to see a writer’s house so Eden, my mum and I went shopping! I bought a headband and an opal necklace.The next day we went to the African Brazilian museum. It was all about how European countries conquered Africa and sent slaves to work in Brazil.

We then had to get a six hour bus ride to Lencois, which is the town near the national park Chapada Diamantina. Our first day we trecked for an hour until we arrived at a huge swimming hole with a giant waterfall slide. Our first tour we did included: walking, swimming, a huge lunch, more swimming and sand caves which are literally sand in a cave. Our second tour was in a huge cave. We took torches because it was really dark. We then drove to a huge swimming hole with little nibbly fish in the water. My parents went snorkelling but kids weren’t allowed. But Eden, my dad and I went zip-lining!!!!! The third day we canoed down a stream to get to a house in the middle of nowhere that also did lunch. After lunch we walked to a giant swimming hole with a giant waterfall!!!

The next place we visited was an island called Boipeba. A small town surrounded by beautiful beaches, Boipeba is great for holidays. We went to the beach and did school for most of the time but one day we went snorkelling!! The water was crystal clear so you could see the coral and fish perfectly. We saw: vivid coral, stripey fish, weirdly shaped fish, almost transparent fish, little creatures in shells and many more types of fish. The second time we snorkeled we also had a drink from the boat-bar in the middle of the ocean. To get back to the nearest big town we had to take a small motor boat to Valenca. Eden and I always ended up with windswept hair because it was so windy on the boat!

We are currently staying in Praia do Forte, a small tourist town on the coast. A couple of days ago, it was my birthday! We all woke up and had pancakes, cake and umbu juice. After that we went to the beach for a while stopping on the way to buy some awesome Brazilian flip-flops. After lunch we went to a turtle sanctuary where we: looked at enormous turtles, saw sting rays and petted a shark! But the real reason we are in Praia do Forte is to volunteer at an after school club called Projeto Manguezal. This is an after school club that helps poor kids. All the public schools in Brazil aren’t very good so this place teaches them maths and literacy and computing but also useful subjects like cooking and hairdressing. The kids come at one o’ clock and go home at five o’ clock.

Thank for reading!
Arielle

Arielle in Argentina

Here is my photo story of Argentina…

Mendoza

Wine tasting in Bodega Pulmary, Mendoza. We were first showed round the wine processors and told how they make it. Next we went into a freezing cold wine cellar to learn about grapes and how they need to be kept before turned into wine. After that, we went back upstairs for some wine tasting! Of course, Eden and I only had a small bit but it was still quite tasty!

Riding horses up a scenic mountain near Mendoza, the town were staying at. We went two thousand metres above sea level on our horses. After that, we rode slowly down for a barbecue.

An eight hour bus ride from Santiago de Chile to Mendoza. This photo is when we stopped at security for at least an hour and a half! Not much fun but at least it was better than the boiling bus!

 

The drive

This photo was taken on our 6 day drive from Mendoza to Salta. We passed breathtaking sights, guanacos(a sort of llama.), curving roads, endless dessert and huge mountains. Some of our stops were..

Salinas Grandes

Funny photo of me holding my mum in Salinas Grandes, which is one of the biggest salt flats in Argentina. You can take those sort of photos there because the background looks the same as the foreground. A sign post near Salinas Grandes that shows the direction and distance to: San Pedro de Atacama, La Quiaca, Uyuni, Cuzco, Ushuaia, Buenos Aires, Rome, New York and Tokyo.

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Awesome Australia

‎We are in Australia!

In Perth, Mandurah, we stayed in my dad’s cousin’s house with his four daughters; Tiannie, Sorell, Cairney and Eliya. There are also two horses and two dogs at his house. We arrived from Vietnam via Singapore at five am in the morning. We went back to bed and woke up at one pm!

On our first night in Mandurah we went to a fish and chip restaurant. It was delicious but the meals were huge! On the next day we went to Peel Zoo and we fed kangaroos, fed sheep, held snakes, saw koalas, talked to a bird and fed exotic birds. My favourite animals were the kangaroos because they had joeys, aka baby kangaroos, that stuck their heads into their mother’s pouch to drink milk. I really liked Peel Zoo because they gave all their animals names. We tried to go to Peel Zoo the day before but it was closed.

We went sailing on Aquila the fourth, my cousin’s boat. It was pretty but freezing. The temperature was colder in Perth than in Cairns. Another day, Tiannie, Eden and I went shopping for a Christmas tree. We finally decided on a green tree with frosting. Their family celebrates Christmas in October, if you wanted to know.

We took a day trip to Fremantle and looked around the trendy market with exciting things, fresh food and sugary treats. My favourite stall was a stall with clothes just for dogs! Then my mum had to go to a meeting. Eden, my dad and I went to an art gallery and looked around a room with crazy drawings on the walls! After that, my mum came back and we had ice cream at Cold Rock. I had butterscotch flavour ice cream with glow worms and a Crunchie bar. My sister had Milo flavoured ice cream with glow worms and chocolate.

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Three days in Dalat City, Vietnam (a food tour)

Three days in Dalat City, Vietnam (a food tour…)

Here in Dalat we have done a lot of things, including: going on a luge and staying at the Crazy House. Now I will give you a more detailed blog of Dalat City.

The first day we arrived, we went for brunch at One More Cafe (sausages and toast for Eden and I). Then we went to the Crazy House. The Crazy House is a super strange (and kitsch) house with a million stairs all over the place. When you enter it is really hard to find your way out! You can also stay at the Crazy House in one of the animal rooms such as the Tiger room or the Eagle room. After a visit to the Crazy House, we crossed the road and found a cafe. My mum ordered a Nutella crepe with banana and strawberry slices and a mountain of whipped cream. My sister and I got a Four Seasons ice cream (strawberry, vanilla and chocolate ice cream with nuts and a flake).

Then we headed home to do some things.

The next day, we went on a luge. The luge is a rollercoaster which you get into and control by yourself. There are lots of twists and turns and corners which tilt you on your side as you go down the side of a waterfall. When you finish the first half you arrive at a gushing waterfall where you can see lots and lots of water. The second half is less fun because you are just going uphill. Next we went to Truc Lam monastery and had a conversation with a Buddhist monk who gave us some books on meditation. After that we walked down to a lake. We tried to go on the boats but the office was closed. A while later we went on a cable car and saw breathtaking sights of Dalat City. After the cable car we got a taxi to another lake where we went on swan pedalling boats. After that we ordered a taxi to take us to the Golden Palace Hotel via an ATM. At the Golden Palace Hotel we got hot chocolate and macaroons. After all that fanciness, we went to have dinner on the side of the street.

We got up early the next morning to go on a coffee tour with La Viet coffee. First of all, we went to the coffee plantation and harvested coffee beans. We learnt a lot on coffee beans such as they are only harvested once a year. After all that hard work we sat down and had a cup of coffee and ate some persimmon (a type of fruit).

In the second half of the day, it was just my dad and I. First of all we looked around the coffee factory. Next we had to sort the coffee beans from the defects (extremely boring). Then we roasted the beans at 180 degrees Celsius and watched as they turned from apricot to dark brown. After roasting we ground our beans into powder. We poured the powder into hot water so we could taste the coffee. One cup tasted flat and dry but the other was sweeter. The sweeter one we ground ourselves, but the other one was pre-made. After that we proceeded to the bar where we made our coffee with a siphon. At the end, my dad drank our coffee and I had a hot chocolate and we shared a passion fruit cake. Then we walked home to collect the bags. We took the bags to the Crazy House (where we were staying for the night) and explored in the dark. Then it was time for bed.

Four days in Cambodia

It’s been thirteen years since I was last here and first time for Miriam, Arielle and Eden. Of course things have changed, that would go without saying, but what is more interesting now is bringing young kids to a country ravaged by war, market forces and mass tourism.

Siem Reap, Cambodia’s second city was a backwater in 2003. The poverty was endless and amputated children would beg on the streets looking for ‘one dollar’. Anghor Wat was particularly empty then, left untouched and certainly not interpreted or preserved as well as it is today. You could wander the temples pretty much alone whilst today you share the space with endless selfie sticks, tripods, zoom lenses and go pros. You are now more likely to spot a cappuccino holding tourist in the temples and over-use of the word ’boutique’ than a back packer.

What has changed? The droves of tourists, endless luxury resorts and shopping malls, are new. Some things dont change – there is still a warmth and tenderness about Siem Reap and Cambodians. But children still beg and sell their tourist tat everywhere, the poverty is clearly evident and people are still getting used to being ruled by ex-Khmer Rouge leaders.

Cambodia is still one of Asia’s most corrupt countries and we’ve never been scammed by being asked to pay for an arrival card by an immigration official at an airport before! However, many people are effecting real change here, not one based on corruption. Many expats are now employing and training young Cambodians and NGOs are giving good clear advice to tourists on issues such as child labour and how to not add to the problem. Therefore, it’s clearer what to do and how to support people who really need it.

This and a visit to the Landmine Museum had a profound effect on all of us, especially Arielle who is old enough to understand some of what’s happening here. She has spent a lot of time looking at videos about children’s charities, learning more about how to support children in Cambodia today, especially those who don’t go to school and have to work to support their family. There are still thousands of children here who suffer abuse and child labour in awful conditions, a tragedy of war and corruption, and a shocking indictment on the current regime. She’s decided that as a family we should support the Green Gecko Project, which houses 70 ex-street kids in Siem Reap, providing a loving home, food and access to excellent education. It breaks the cycle of poverty for these kids, and also runs outreach projects for vulnerable women and village education projects. Arielle has made a short video for her class back at home (which happens to be called Cambodia Class 6) to encourage them to fundraise for it too.

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