Today we were going back to school to stay with Kamnet (our part-time Tuk Tuk driver) and teach English to the kids at the school that he ran. It was strange but we actually had a few nerves of our own to dispel before we were to be going to the classroom later today but first up was to arrive bearing gifts. So we got up early enough and took a walk into the main part of Battambang in order to go pencil buying so we could at least turn up with a small offering or two. By the time we had finished we had enough stationery supplies for a whole school, which was cool because that’s where we were going.
So we checked out of our ‘Royal’ hotel which had been a great little place to stay even though during the stay we never had a hot shower there, perhaps we should have pushed them harder to fix it I suppose! Anyhow Kamnet came round as appointed to collect us and off we went in his ‘taxi’, out through Battambang to a place some ways out from the centre to his AKD school. We had a look over the living quarters that we would be staying in over the next week or so and got our backpacks into position so that we would have easy access to our clothes. The place looked like an old storeroom with loads of old books in bookcases that were left by a former sponsor, some quite strange reading matter it was to but it had a double sized bed though with some well worn sheets on top. If a little shabby, it was still homely enough so here we were.
We were not long getting settled in before we were thrown into the deep end and actually had a go at teaching the kids. I say teaching but although the Cambodian volunteers at the school had very grand ideas about teaching and how to get the message through to the children, for us it was quite tricky simply getting them to talk as although they were in their teens many were shy and lacking in confidence about their ability to speak English. It was good though just getting them to talk so that they could improve their conversational skills and put them at ease about talking to their new teachers – the Hughes’. We both had different classes so were fronting groups on our own albeit with the support of the resident teachers and although I felt that every now and again I was garbling a bit, I really had enjoyed it. The children at the school were a delight as they were really polite to chat to and enthusiastic to learn English and it was an absolute joy to interact with them.
Anyhow it was our first night in our new surroundings and a very interesting night it was too, first off we had a lovely Cambodian tea in the dark at a table set up in the school grounds outside the two-room hut that Kamnet and his family lived in. After eating we had quite a primitive but functional ‘shower’. The family had three or four really big urns next to their home and these were full of water. The water, though we could not see it clearly in the dark, was not exactly the cleanest and as it was night and there was very little light so we each had to hold our wind up torch up whilst the other one then got undressed, soaped up and threw the cold murky water over themselves to rinse. It was all a wee bit brr and a bit daunting in the pitch black dark but we managed to see the funny side.
After showering we then went back to our little ‘cottage’ and once we were dressed we sat with the door open just taking in the night. Kamnet came over and he told us a bit more about his life and why he had ended up running the school. He actually used to be a Buddhist monk before leaving to marry the woman he had been teaching and right now whilst running the school and being a tuk tuk driver he was also trying to complete his Bachelor’s degree, a truly unique individual. He also had two children, a little boy and a slightly older girl, who were beautiful as well as a third on the way as his wife was quite heavily pregnant, so he was a busy guy in every sense of the word.
Then his wife and the kids came across to see us whilst I was typing up my notes for this blog on my Macbook, so I showed the kids the iPhoto booth and the young lad had a go so I morphed his face a bit which was really funny and made us all laugh and although his sister was quite a bit shier I knew that she too was finding it quite funny as well. They did not stick around too long though as it was getting on for the kid’s bedtime and for us too it had been quite a day so we pulled down our garage door and locked ourselves in and settled down to sleep.