On the last full day of our CAS trip, we started the day like most of the other days on the trip. We woke up at 7:00, ate breakfast at 7:15, and finally left on our convoy of tuk tuks at 7:50. However, despite our indifferent morning routine, we had a variety of new activities to look forward to.
Immediately after leaving the hotel, we travelled to the ancient and legendary Angkor Wat Temple – one of the biggest religious monuments in the world. Led by one of the first English speaking tour guides for the temple, we had a mini-history lesson on the significance of the temple. We admired the many carvings on the ancient stone walls, and was left curious about the many spectular architectural designs. After taking several photos inside and outside the temple, we left to go to the Bayon temple, another iconic located within the Angkor Thom area.
After finishing our tours of Bayon at around 11, we went back to the Phare Circus area for lunch, and to meet with our Great Race Team, before the race began. In the race we had to complete tasks like counting from 1 to 10 in Khmer, learning some Apsara dance moves, “paving” a road, completing a quiz on Cambodian culture and history, completing puzzles, and even eating bugs. Despite the variety of challenges, with the promise of a cash prize, all students were eager to win.
The race was challenging in many ways and pushed all of us out of our comfort zones. We had to work with different people, whom we had rarely worked with before. We would also have to navigate through the city completely by our self, and would have to speak Khmer when directing our selected tuk tuk drivers. Some students exceeded in some challenges – like the Apsara dance – while others struggled in the same activities.
Ending the race with a puzzle in the Phare circus area, “The Colarossi Rouge” – consisting of Charmaine, Zinei, Clarence, Kunal, Daphne and obviously chaperoned by Ms. Colarossi – were identified as the winners. When receiving the cash prize, a twist was revealed and the money won would be donated to help local Cambodian people in some way. In the end, the Colarossi Rouge decided to use their cash prize to provide solar lighting for local villagers.
After we concluded the race we met up with our local tour guide for the temple and set towards the Batneay Kdel Temple to view the famous sunset. Upon arrival there we were given a brief history of the temple. We learnt that the temple signifies cremation as at the base there was a large cremation hole to burn the body. Soon after we were given the opportunity to explore the site ourselves. Most of us headed towards the top to view the sunset. The sight was amazing and was every bit as good as people spoke it to be.
Dinner was a blast too as we rolled up to our dinner spot, with some of us screaming “Baby” by Justin Bieber at the top of our lungs. For dinner we had a large variety of BBQ dishes to choose from ranging from salad to spiced beef to the traditional hot dogs. We wrapped up dinner with a fun award ceremony activity where the teacher would first announce the award then act out the person who won it for us to guess.
Overall, The last full day here in Cambodia has been unforgettable for almost everyone. With one of our local guides – Wandi – leaving for his sister’s wedding tomorrow many students and teachers bidded farewell to him for the last time with great sadness.
By Kunal Dadlani