Battambang – Back with Friends and Volunteering

It is 2017 and I decided to come back to Battambang to visit my good friend Mr. Chea.  He has invited to come to his hotel for a few nights, while I help him with some website stuff.

So, January 2nd, I take the bus down to Battambang, and meet with Mr. Chea at his, very amazing hotel.  This is a 5 star, resort and the room he gave is, is nicer than I could even imagine.  His staff are super friendly and treat me like I am VIP or extremely important.  Which I am not!

Anyways, after checking in, I meet up with Mr. Chea, his good friend and manager, Whanna, and Whanna’s sister for dinner.  I am sure I am spelling his name wrong, but it will do for now.

That night we sat, drank, ate, until late.  To make it even more fun, we played Russian roulette with beers.  Angkor beers have a chance to win a free beer under the cap, and we kept saying, last round unless someone wins a beer.  Eventually we were all hoping no one would win a free beer.  LOL!  What a night, is all I can say.

I won’t forget theses nights, done in Cambodia style!

The next day Mr. Chea’s son, Whanna’s sister and I went through the technical updates for the websites, and I also gave them some tips on using media editing software.

I was asked how much would it cost them for me to do some designs and logos.  My answer, “I don’t charge Khmer people!”, “if they need help, I do it for free!”.

However, I am still waiting for them to ask for more help.  I hope they do, because I love doing it.

Later Mr. Chea and I talked about going to Osoam Village on Jan 10th.  That is not for another 7 nights, and until that day, he is going away.  This is OK I said, as I will find a school to go and volunteer at until he arrives back.

Online  I found KNGO School, that needs volunteers to help in English and also other areas.  So, I called the director and made arrangements for me to arrive the next day at 1 PM.

Link to schoo

I was greeted with big smiles from the director and a lot of the students.  A great first impression.

Over the next 3 days, I assisted Sopheak from 1 PM until 6 PM in 5 different classes.  He is an amazing teacher and I learned a lot of very good teaching techniques, that I will use in other schools.

On the last 2 days, I spent 10 hours teaching the director and his IT guy how to update their website, and how to setup backups, for all of the PCs.

Someone else configured the website, but they had no idea how he did it, or the password.  I was able decrypt the one file which was holding the saved password, and give it to them.  They were very happy now that they can make updated via FTP.

On the last day, we took some pictures of the top students of that month.

I spent a total of 25 hours volunteering at KNGO in 5 days and loved every minute of it.  Maybe I will get a chance in the future to come back.

While waiting for Mr. Chea to come back, I got to spend some lunches and dinners with his mom, and wife.  Neither speak English, but are always very hospitable. The staff usually translates for us, which really helped.

The one lunch I got to meet his grandfather, who speaks 4 languages.  Very impressive.  He is a really nice guy!  I later found out that he is a Senator of Cambodia.  I am now personal friends with a Senator Of Cambodia.  WTF!  He even asked me to come visit him in Phnom Phen.

I am starting to learn that Mr. Chea is not just a hotel owner, but a very important man in the community.  He is obviously very humble, as he has never told me any of this.  He acts like he is not important, but everywhere I go, people know about him.

The one day, he invited me to go with him to a wedding.  I thought why not, even though I am dressed like a backpacker.  I am told this is OK, for man to do.

At the wedding, I didn’t actually see the ceremony, but was at the reception.  From the minute I walked in, until the minute I left.  Everyone treated me like I was special, and kept saying hi.  This one lady asked me tones of questions about me and how much I like different things in Cambodia.

I have to say, I really enjoyed the party and the company.

Here is a fun little story that reinforces why I like Cambodia so much.

The one day I was having coffee with my local friend Ly and we were talking about teaching.  He was asking me different questions about the schools.  Anyways, after we were finished, I was about to pay, and the waitress tells my friend, that the guy behind us paid.  So, Ly asks why, but she didn’t know.  Before I got a chance to tell him thank you.  He turns around and says, “Thank you for helping the people in my country.”

How amazing is that.  He only understood a little English but understood the word volunteer and that I was doing that.

On January 7th, Cambodia celebrates the defeat of Khymer Rouge.  This was one heck of a big event and I got a chance to celebrate it with them.  However, I am not going to go into big details on this yet, as I am writing a separate post on it later.  It was an honour to be able to be here for this celebration.

Anyways, Mr. Chea is back and tomorrow early we leave for an adventure across country, to Osoam.  200 KM of off road, jungle riding.  Wish me luck!

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