So here we are day 1. We’ve just arrived, in fact this year 50 of us will descend on to Phnom Penh.
So in our traditional style, we all arrived, checked in the hotel and then tuk tuk’d to the FCC (Foreign Correspondent Club). Basically where all the press hang out due the troubles within Cambodia. A drinking hole, now hotel and restaurant too. Airy views over the Meekong and streets below, a wonderful place to chill and chat.
There were 23 males ands 25 females which is a first time experience for us to have more of the fairer sex, 8 teams with 2 people coming from Australia, 8 from HK, 3 from Philippines, 24 from Singapore, 10 from the UK, and 1 (Neil) from the US. We tried to get in to a nightclub one evening and they said sorry you can’t come in because you don’t have a Thai (boom boom).
We stayed in 33 rooms at the Golden Gate hotel with 3 choosing to live it up in suites (didn’t even know they had these). We built 36 houses – yes THIRTY-SIX, which now means that over the 4 years that the BT Singapore CSR team has organised the trip, that all the kind volunteers have constructed a total of 92 houses. As Dougy said; “That seems like a small number compared to the thousands that need housing help, but for EVERY one of those 92 families, this made a difference to their lives. ”
That, in turn, also makes a difference to our lives!!!!
We then took a trip to the market as we had been advised it may all close over the weekend due to a BUddhist festival taking place. This is Central Market. The place you can buy absolutely everything and anything you could wish for. We bought fake handbags, shoes, glasses, electrical, suitcases, jewellery – literally I mean you name it has it here.
So Gordie is there looking at some new leather belts, I spin around and spot this lovely lady surrounded by these sacks of things – not quite sure what though. Let’s have a closer look. Holy Cow it’s Animal Planet in a bag.
Yes it’s deep fried cockroaches, crickets, frog legs and tarantulas. Looks kind of interesting yes. So Zimmerman style let’s go for it. Bag of crickets please, oh and one for yourself!
Whilst she’s dishing out a cup of crickets, she offers a tarantula up. Yes a bloody tarantula. A perfect dish for Christmas dinner with the family as everyone can have a leg. Here we go, look pensive faces on both sides.
She’s thinking “stupid AngMo!”,
and I’m thinking “stupid AngMo!”
And down she goes. Leg of tarantula, lightly marinated in something or other, and fried on a stick. And I tell you what, it’s pretty nice, almost like a light teriyaki which was very surprising. I’ll have another thanks! Yep she gave me another one. Dear me eating all these spiders will I have enough room for my crickets ……….
“Say hello to my liddle fren!!!”
Me being the very generous chap I am, clearly I didn’t want anyone to miss out on the wonderful experience I was having. So share and share alike. Here’s Annie having 1st dibs at some crickets. I’ll let you decide what the speech bubble should be. But I believe it starts; “What the ……………”
And then my Mary has a go too. A moment frozen in time by the camera? Perhaps. Or was it that she wouldn’t close her mouth because of the crickets inside. Could be both. But fair play they all tried it there and then, and strangely enough pretty much all said the same. They are a little like crunchy sweet shrimps. Not as bad as we thought they would be. Go for it if you are there. I am back with Ollie this weekend so shall absolutely be introducing him to these local delicacies. Come on Ollie you can do it!
Now I’m getting really brave ha ha. Can you zoom in on my tongue? Yeap it is indeed Jimmy Cricket and a couple of his cousins on there. Yum Yum.
Back to the world famous FCC, to watch the Meekong slip on past, whilst enjoying some of the local beverage they call beer and sampling a few more crickets from the bag. A lovely group shot this one. At the front of the table are the seasoned team members of the Tabitha experience and at the back of the table you’ll see three of our “virgins” for 2012. Great bunch of people, some 1st time in Asia who even tried a cricket or two.
Someone quipped; “I always have hated cricket, even more so now!”
No other reason than some lovely snaps of friends relaxing. Here’s the main man Ged T and my Mary. Mwah, sooooo cute!!!! Not sure but I think some of that local beverage may have been consumed by now??? You decide.
Night Number 1, oh dear oh dear. No need for you to ask to decide, as absolutely local beverage had indeed been consumed. Seemingly a little too much ha ha. Me and Pinaki dancing Cambodian Gangdam (spelling) stylee. Dear me am I getting too old for this or what. Hey it’s all for a good cause. In fact I was fine on the beer beverage until plied with some Jaegermeister and Red Bull concoction – I believe the young kids of today call them cocktails or something. Whoopsy!!!!
Day number 2 and off to the markets and cooking school again. 9 of us in attendance this year. Again like last year this was just great fun as you get a guided tour by our man, and ex Friends chef. He gives local insight and explains all the different vegetables, fish, meats etc some you likely have never seen before. Smiles say it all, it really is an eye opener and just great fun.
What you don’t see is the heat. This day was HOT HOT. I literally had sweat coming out from me in places I didn’t know existed. Plus from the effects of the local beverage the night before it came out with a head on it.
What is some of this stuff?? Really have no idea, but that makes it all the more enjoyable experience, especially if you are a foodie. Imagine these were probably cooked by her Mum, and her Mum’s Mum and so on. Colours, smells – everything is just great!
Get your skates on. On the grill that is. Sun dried baby skate or sting rays on display. Pretty little thing although not quire sure how you’d prepare or cook this – looks a tad chewy to me as it is.
Talking of chewy, looks like someones actually bitten their tongue off. Wonder what this had been licking before it made it to the plate.
Mary completely in her element here, fruit and dried fish being purchased – and she loving it as you can see of course!!!
Have you got crabs?
No I just have some very itchy underpants on today!
I didn’t mean that I meant …………..
Anyways check these guys out. Little stone crabs of sorts all lined up for purchase.
Night number 2 – Mary & Thess in the also world famous Liquid.
Day number 3 – first day of building. Our Tabitha “guide” introduces us all to the villagers up and about at that time. We are the guys that have raised the monies to buy and build your houses. An amazing change in faces when that is announced. This really was a great village, a large one spread out, beautiful backdrop scenery, bloody hot believe me, and full of lovely people – truly lovely people.
Although it has to be said the toilet leaves a lot to be desired. Luckily due to sweating madly I didn’t need to go the whole time I was there. But here is Pauline on “the walk of shame” ha ha! We were literally building a house from where this picture was taken. Smiling faces when they walk to this “facility” and not so smiling – more grimacing faces on the way back.
The call from the ladders was; “we know where you’re going!”
Yes indeed the walk of shame, ha ha!
Two points to this. One to show just how beautiful this country is. We’re about 2 hours outside of Phnom Penh here, having left at 7am to start building at 9am. There really is not a lot here is there. But OMG is it beautiful.
Second point, and reason we’re there. How flat is this place. So traditionally when it floods all the villagers houses are on the ground and literally get swept away. We build houses on stilts, with concrete foundations, and strong corrugated sides to stand the worst.
Here you see the start of house number 2 I think for my team. Yes yours truly is a Team Captain. Thsi year a great bunch with Me, Mary, Doug, Annie, Maggie and Pauline. Great work team, truly great work.
So I’m up the ladder which gives you a good idea of the height we build these things at off the floor.
Nothing special, BUT so much more sustainable for the families.
Finished one. Actually this is number 1. A thing of beauty isn’t it – hmmm!
As you drive further out from Phnom Penh city centre in to the country you start to spy these green panels everywhere. Then when you hit the villages you see the Tabitha Houses like this dotted throughout. Basically this is finished but family cannot move in until the Saturday handover which involves the hand stitched blanket giving to family elder. See more of that later.
This is the Mum of one of the families in to help the girls. And she did help. Sometimes they’ll just sit and watch, maybe hand the nails, but this lady no – she was in on bended knee banging in the nails. Thank you Ma’am.
Here’s a snap of the road in and the rod out.
Er scuse me is there a McDonalds or 711 anywhere nearby?
Where do I get a taxi please?
Is there a pub nearby, getting really thirsty?
I think you know the answer. There is absolutely nothing here. It’s amazing scenery and countryside though, forgive it – this is farming territory, rice farming. Plus some of the villagers would go out at night setting traps, and hunting with huge pole and net to catch frogs for sale in the market.
I LOVE this. A beautiful snap of one of the daughters of the house we were building (actually for this one I was watching it being built). Isn’t she beautiful. Only word I can think to sum it up in one is “innocence”.
Some of the boys in the teams up and down ladders, in and out of windows, finishing off the panelling. One thing I noticed that made me think re next year was a left hander in each team will make a massive difference when it comes to nailing round corners on your wrong-side. Ged/Doug/Roy on the application form year; are you male/female, and are you left/right handed???
Calm before the storm. A roof top of original housing next to our house number 4. Beautiful flowers trailing over it. Lovely. But about 15 minutes later, boom the heavens opened and the rest of the afternoon we were getting hammered with rain, and very heavy rain at that! But on a positive boy did it cool us all down, much needed as the morning was just so so hot.
The guys! Per house you tend to get allocated 2 helpers to guide and show, and the help with some of the troublesome spots, like when you can’t get a ladder in place, stuff needs cutting etc. These guys are invaluable if you get good. And this year we certainly go that. Our team were just the best! We wish them and their families well.
Handover time – literally one at a time the individual families will come to receive a blanket and say thank you. That means they get to move in to what we just built. Very emotional time this one. Really makes you proud of what you have done, no matter how small you really have just changed lives for the better. Our 50 this year should absolutely be patting themselves on the back for such an amazing achievement!
Yep still pouring down when handing over. Shame Shame.
Love this one of Susie T, hand on hip. Nice posing Susan, love your work he he!
I mentioned before the helpers. This was my guy. He helped me both days and was a bloody legend, especially on the last house as Dougy had gone to help others so we did one together, supported by Maggie and the girls on the flooring of course.
He came to say goodbye and brought his daughter, how cute is this one – kawaii indeed. Such a nice guy.
Team Kennett. Drowned rats, tired, aching – but proud, happy, humble and all agreeing to do the same next year. It’s like a drug, you really do want more! Thank you to the team. We did such a fantastic job, a quality job, in such a short period of time – that really will change the lives of many!
The lives we changed this trip. Here’s us plus most of the villagers that just received the handovers for the 36 houses we built this trip. This is why we do what we do.
If any that have donated are reading this, can I just say again a massive thank you. The money you gave enables us to buy and build the green huts on stilts, provide fresh water wells and to provide livestock for these guys.
It truly has made such a difference to so many peoples lives – and here they are for you to see. It is change in action that you have given, and I know cos I was there. It has already happened.
An amazing piece of street food, well road-side food. Yep cooked tortoise and its eggs. Have you ever ………… Yes please I’ll have two – NOT!! Crazy.
“Scuse me love I’ll have one please, and by the way what’s your name?”
Last night meal, and Les Filipinos gather for a photo together.
Well done girls, looking gorgeous despite 2 days of building site work!
And to close a final few of artsy fartsy photos from yours truly of our last bit of site seeing from the trip on Sunday.
Temple and Palaces within Phnom Penh city – some crackers in here.
Stunning in fact!