The Ancient House and the giving of Gifts! – Day 184 – 21 July

It appears that although we had awoken at a time that was quite early for us, everyone else (in Cambodia) had been up for quite a while. When we lifted our ‘garage’ door, Kamnet came across with what seemed like a lot of fruit – rambutan – for us, yet we were still full from after last night’s food so could really only pick at the gifts from our host. This turned out to be a good thing though as five minutes after we had finished Kamnet came over to take us for some breakfast!

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Our good friend Kamnet

The cafe we were to be dining at was just through the fence and seemingly through the house of one of the school’s next door neighbours. Once seated we had some noodles but this time with a bit of an unusual ingredient, some rather black looking cubes. I asked Kamnet what they were and it turned out these were congealed pig’s blood cubes so I had a bit of a try and I suppose they were okay if you know what I mean – Liz declined the new foodstuff though. To be fair it was a bit early, for us if not for anyone else. The noodles were very tasty though and once more we were filled to gunnels and finding our movements a touch lethargic – lol. One of Kamnet’s dogs then took a bit of a stroll onto the road and nearly got himself run over, he was actually hit by a motor and was bleeding and hurt but would not come back so could not be helped. I am not that sure anything would have been done anyhow as animals are not nearly as fussed over as they are in the UK.

Our host then took us by his Tuk Tuk back into Battambang, as we had decided to buy the school some pencils, rubbers and sharpeners. Presents for the little kids who would be being taught later today. Kamnet knew somewhere that we could buy cheap stationery from near the river so here we went filling our bags with all manner of stuff. We decided the kids could take these bits and bobs home with them so it would be cool to see what they would make of our gifts later on in the day.

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‘Eye of newt and toe of bat’!

From here Kamnet then took us to Battambang museum which was alright although the exhibits seemed a little haphazardly placed and they were not greatly labelled so although it was interesting it was not easy to follow the story behind the pieces. The Ancient House, our next port of call, was a much better place to visit. The house itself was cool, it was built on stilts, and made of a dark mahogany wood. Inside we met our guide, a young lady who proceeded to show us around and told us more about the story of the house. As well as the furniture and the house itself, at one point she showed us the intricacies of making up a betel nut ‘blend’ the way the locals do ready for chewing which was really interesting and told us about the effects of using the nut, in particular the red staining of the teeth. It all looked such a harmless little package but the staining is quite off-putting. The furniture in the house made it a really interesting place to have a look round and you could imagine that this was the houses of the wealthy types ‘back in the day’.

Anyhow after the excitement of the house it was back to the school and I decided that night time showering should be a thing of the past, so went for an afternoon ablution before being fed with yet more food! At this rate we shall end up bursting if we carry on  eating so much! The younger children then turned up for their lessons and at the end, before they were all due to go they were all lined up and to each we gave a pencil, pencil sharpener, rubber and the like. They sang a few songs in English and thanked us and it really was quite moving even for an old fart like me … lol!

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Surrounded by the younger children – awwww!

We had a bit of time to relax in the afternoon and sometimes Kamnet’s kids and their friends would come by and wave and ‘hello’ us, making us feel like quite the celebrities. However, at five it was our turn to do some ‘work’. We both had two different groups to teach and once again I really enjoyed it but ‘once again’ the real volunteer teacher had to step in to ensure I let the kids out on time, I get so carried away. Once again, very poor lesson planning Mr Hughes! I did not care though, it gave me a real buzz. Even the ones who were a bit more shy were with my encouragement, trying a bit harder and this made me more determined than ever to help them. Liz and I compared ‘notes’ later and to us both it seemed quite strange teaching especially when the kids asked us questions as, speaking English, you never really stop to think about the grammar you use, you just do it.

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Liz set up a ‘school within a school’ and we soon had a wall 0f kids’ pictures at the back!

We had the final meal of the day and whilst it was delicious, it did make me want the toilet – I was just so full from all the food we had eaten during the day. However, sitting down on a squat toilet in the middle of the night with a torch between my teeth, well words do not describe the agonies I went through, as I could not actually relax enough to ‘go’, it must have been all the palaver … lol! I have never sweat so much in my life!

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