On Friday we went to a Khmer country park with our language school. There was about 50 of us in all,staff and pupils. We left Phnom Penh at 8.00 and arrived two hours later. The plan was to teach us about the Khmer New Year which is between 14th and 16th of April and to have a bit of fun. Khmer New Year is a bit like New Years Eve, Christmas Day and your 18th birthday all rolled into one. People will go into the province (countryside) to visit their families for this celebration which means that Phnom Penh is unusually quiet for once.
As well as learning about the Khmer culture we visited a Pagoda (Buddhist Temple) and played traditional Khmer games,the sort of games they have played for decades out in the province and the sort of games that maybe children play when they are young back home.
Lunch was provided-Khmer cuisine. It was such tremendous fun and I think that we all appreciated getting away from the city and getting to know one another a bit better. We also tried to master the art of Khmer dancing…….well at least I had a go. There was a sack race competition and some sort of game which involved throwing flour at one another-not too sure about the rules for that one..
In the park itself was a memorial to some of those who had died during the Khmer Rouge rule of Cambodia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmer_Rouge_rule_of_Cambodia.This area was another “Killing Fields” although on a much smaller scale. Basically it was where people were taken to be executed and then buried in mass graves. This memorial was tucked away in the woods and is a reminder of what should never happen again.
All in all it was a lovely day and good to get to know others a bit better and find out what work they are doing here in Cambodia. So many people have given up the security of their former lives and taken a step of faith to help this country and it’s people. There were people from France, Australia, New Zealand, America, Holland, South Korea and England. Their jobs included a former prison officer,a surgeon,a doctor,a teacher and a businessman.