Our adventure begins in the developing town of Phnom Penh. Once considered the most beautiful city in the Orient Phnom Penh is going through rapid change, we experience some of the cultural and historical highlights. We explore the same way the locals do, by cyclo, as we discover the local markets and main places of interest. We then join one of the best wildlife facilities in South East Asia as we join the Free the Bears "keeper for a day" program. We drive North to Siem Reap stopping at Skuon village famous for its local delicacies before we continue to the bustling town of Siem Reap, the gateway to the temples of Angkor Wat. Here we explore the surrounds by bike, foot and kayak. We pay a visit to the Kompong Kleang village set on the Tonle Sap Lake to witness how life is lived on the water in villages built on stilts - homes, schools and hospitals purpose built to float on the water during the wet season. We embark on a trek through rural communities and wilderness terrain to the top of sacred Kulen Mountain, spending 1 night in a small Cambodian village at a traditional old teak building, a real highlight of your adventure. We explore the main temples by cycling along the back roads along shady tree lined streets, away from the main crowds. We embark on a very important part of our journey, a Community Project helping build infrastructure for remote villages in need. For 3 days we work together with the local community to improve the facilities and help participate in the education program by day and then enjoy activities including cycling, trekking and kayaking in the afternoon. This is a wonderful opportunity to hands on provide lasting help to the local community.
After months of planning and preparation the wait is finally over! Please make your way to the airport for your day flight to Phnom Penh.
SQ278 ADELAIDE TO SINGAPORE DEP 09:10 ARR 15:10
MI608 SINGAPORE TO PHNOM PENH DEP 16:35 ARR 17:30
On arrival you will be met by your guide and driver and transferred to your hotel. After check in we will have a full group pre-trip briefing before heading out for our first taste of Cambodian cuisine at a local restaurant.
Overnight 3* hotel Phnom Penh
After breakfast at our hotel we will head out for a very special day. We will drive to Phnom Tamao to the Free the Bears wildlife sanctuary to join their "keeper for a day program". This is a wonderful opportunity for students to get behind the scenes at one of the best wildlife centres in South East Asia as they join the Free the Bears education program. The facility, set up by Perth lady Mary Hutton, now houses over 100 Sun Bears over a 7 hectare area, rescued from poachers. We will help with the bear enrichment program. Late this afternoon we will return to Phnom Penh and enjoy a low key dinner.
Next stop is a very sobering one as we visit Cambodia's bloody past. Whilst this is a very confronting visit it is important if we are to understand the countries recent history and how the people are looking positively towards the future. We visit the Tuol Sleng Museum, or the Museum of Genocide. Originally this building was a high school, until it became the Khmer Rouge’s main torture and interrogation centre. During this period it was known as ‘S-21’. We then stop for de-briefing and lunch at the local restaurant before proceeding to the Killing Fields, a stretch of countryside where over 10,000 people were executed. The remains of some of the people are stored in a memorial to remind people of the atrocities the Khmer Rouge inflicted on other Khmers. We will then head back into town and visit the National Museum, housing the worlds foremost collection of ancient Khmer artifacts. Late this evening we have time to reflect on the day and debrief. Tonight we have dinner at the Friends restaurant, a training restaurant for disadvantaged youth. The restaurant provides education and job training to street children. The visit helps support the training of these kids by being their guest. Depending on availability we hope to have the manager of the restaurant and some of the workers speak with our group about their experience.
Overnight 3* hotel Phnom Penh
This morning we leave Phnom Penh for Siem Reap. A short distance outside of Phnom Penh we will stop in the town of Skuon to see their most famous specialty being sold: deep-fried tarantula! A stop off on the Hamish and Andy gap year Asia program, this town is home to the favourite snack of many Cambodians. Many local buses stop here at the market to buy a bag of the “ch’ngain” (tasty) eight-legged creatures. The spiders are caught in the soft ground of the surrounding countryside and dug out of their burrows. We continue to Siem Reap. On arrival we will check into our hotel before heading to the Angkor National Museum. This interactive museum showcases artifacts from the Golden era of the Khmer empire. We will then have an orientation tour of Siem reap before heading out to dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner we head to the famous Phare Cambodian circus. Despite being known around town as the Cambodian circus, it is anything but a traditional big top. A nonprofit school for the arts, Phare is a demonstration of the graduate students’ acrobatic abilities. Exceptionally talented players act out everything from Cambodian folklore to the very real history of the Khmer Rouge; a must see for anyone visiting Siem Reap.
Overnight 3* Siem Reap Hotel
We will rise early to witness the majestic Angkor Wat at sunrise before returning to the hotel for breakfast. We then head to the famous Tonle Sap Lake, south east Asia's largest fresh water lake. The lake swells to around 4 times its normal size during the wet season. We get to explore the lake and stilt villages at sea level by kayak. Our two seat inflatable kayaks are a great way to explore the lake as they can go where the noisy long tail motorboats can not. We paddle through sunken fields and floating forests to the stilt village of Kompong Klaeng. We enjoy lunch at this village town before leaving our kayak's and heading into the countryside through small villages to Boeng Mealea. Boeng Mealea was only recently made accessible to the public and is a temple that remains unrestored. Tonight we enjoy dinner at Marum, a restaurant featuring a winning mix of creative local cuisine, named after the tree of life. The restaurant is a fantastic dining experience that helps build a new life for the students in training.
kayaking approx 2 hours
After breakfast we do a double check of our gear and equipment before we transfer to the trail head to begin our trek. We hike through seemingly endless rice fields and spectacular rural scenery. This is a great opportunity to see how people in the rural areas of Cambodia go about their lives on a daily basis. Rising up from the flat countryside is the enormous Kulen Mountain, and it slowly begins to dominate the view as the trail approaches. Kulen Mountain (Phnom Kulen) is an impressive sandstone plateau in this otherwise flat area. The mountain is considered the birthplace of the Khmer empire and a sacred place for the Khmer. At the top of Phnom Kulen, we can find the 1000 of LINGAS carved under the river. We continue up to visit the grand Buddha before we turn and start trekking downhill, through thick forest. We pass natural water springs where local Khmer people come to wash their face and head. They believe that this holy spring water will bring them happiness, luck and prosperity, moreover; the water is believed to cure any bad moods. Our trek takes us to the popular local hangout: the Kulen falls. Many Cambodians gather here on the weekends and national holidays to escape the heat and enjoy some time beneath the trees. We have the chance to swim here in this beautiful setting. Here we are met by our vehicles and transfer to the nearby Bong Thom village stay. Our accommodation is in a traditional Khmer village where our group will sleep in a large open air dormitory. The home stay is surrounded by orchards of exotic fruit trees that we can try. The home stay also offers free English lessons to children from the surrounding villages, each day and we will be able to join in and help with the lessons. Tonight, enjoy dinner with traditional music at the entrance. Today is a real highlight of our experience in Cambodia.
Overnight in Bong Thom traditional hall
Trek approx 15km, 6 hours
This morning we enjoy waking to the sound of birds and local villages starting their working day, heading to the fields. After breakfast, we say goodbye to our hosts and cycle out to the “gem” of the Angkor area, the pretty temple of Banteay Srei. The “Citadel of Women” remains the best-preserved temple in Cambodia. It displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art and is noted for its truly remarkably fine bas-reliefs. Banteay Srei is unique in that it is constructed of pink sandstone, which is seen nowhere else in Angkor. Then we proceed to visit the temple of Banteay Samre, attributed to King Suryavarman II and maintaining the same style as the mother temple Angkor Wat (known as the small Angkor Wat). This temple is still very well preserved and houses the reliefs, depicting scenes from some of the lives of the most representative Hindu gods. This afternoon, return back to Siem Reap town. On the way we stop at Preah Dak Village for a Tree Planting Project. It gives the opportunity to offset the carbon of your holidays and help a local family to potentially generate some income. All equipment needed will be provided and the students need to discuss location and plant the trees themselves. Later this afternoon we have the opportunity to relax and dinner will be arranged at The Pizza Company tonight. After dinner we have the opportunity to explore the night markets.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Today is a special day as we make our way out to the magnificent temples of Angkor and explore at handle bar level! You will have a full briefing with your guide as well as being sized up for your bike. Cycling is a wonderful way to explore the temple complex as it is relatively flat and we can travel along small shaded streets and avoid the queues as we enter the temples. The largest and most impressive of all the temples in Angkor is Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat was built between 1112 and 1152 by King Suryavarman II and dedicated to Vishnu, the Hindu god of preservation. It is the best preserved of all the temples. Its layout and its scale are simply breathtaking: the wall surrounding the enclosure measures 1,000 by 800 meters in length and the moat, said to represent the oceans of the world is 200 meters wide. We explore Ta Prohm, known as the temple filmed for the movie Tomb Raider which is still overgrown by jungle, trees and vines. We will have lunch near the complex and continue our exploration until we return to our hotel later that afternoon. Tonight we will enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Cycling approx 30km
**Appropriate attire must be work when visiting the temples of Angkor. Long pants (covering the knee) and shirts that cover the shoulders must be worn. Skirts, shorts above the knee, tank tops or other revealing clothing are not allowed to be worn within the temple grounds. Visitors are frequently turned away from the temples when wearing revealing clothing.
The next 3 days is a special time for us as we join the local volunteer building Cambodia team. This is a real opportunity for us to hands on give something back to a remote community in need and to bring long term benefits to the centre. Our work here will be a mixture of labour and construction duties building houses, toilets and wells for the surrounding villages. Volunteer building is a small, Cambodian-run non-government organisation that facilitates building sturdy, wooden houses for Khmer people living without safe and secure shelter. The organisation is fully funded by volunteer fees. At the project site the students will be divided into sub groups to work on different components of the project. We will take the time to take a walk through the surrounding community whilst here gaining a better understanding of the people and their way of life. You should wear clothing you don't mind getting dirty. In addition the friendships which will form and foster closer relationships between your two countries and schools. We work the first day until 12 and then enjoy a variety of activities. The second and third day we work until 3pm and have time to visit the markets after. The project is set up alongside our Travel, Give, Grow concept offering unique experiences to help foster respect for the natural world as well as the diverse peoples and cultures that live in it. This style of travel helps develop confidence, resilience, tolerance, problem solving abilities, team work, fitness and key life skills.
This morning is time for a trip debrief, reflection and time at leisure for any last minute shopping and to get ready for our departure after lunch. We will be met at the hotel after lunch for our transfer to the airport for check in to our flight back to Adelaide.
MI615 SIEM REAP TO SINGAPORE DEP 16:10 ARR 19:15
SQ279 SINGAPORE TO ADELAIDE DEP 23:10 ARR 07:30 (30 SEP 18)
Arrive Adelaide 07:30
Per Person, Twin Share