After spending a night in Singapore, we are on our final leg to reach Cambodia. At this stage my body and mind is in overload, and firing on all cylinders. A year of planning this once in a life time trip is finally here, and all that’s left is a hour and a half flight.
Sitting on the plane, both full of excitement and a touch of nerves. Finally, the longest Hour and a half is over and we land in Phnom Penh. The engine of the plane stops as we grab our hand luggage, and Drew races for the visa desk while I head to the carrousel to get the rest of the luggage. Awaiting us at the arrival gates was a wide eyed Cambodian Tuk Tuk driver, holding a big sign with Louis and Drew in big letters. We waited for him to get the his Tuk Tuk. He whipped our bags off our backs and loaded it up. We jumped in and headed for “Hotel Number 9”.
Within a minute of the journey we both looked at each other, with a smile from ear to ear. At the same time we dived for our cameras. Driving through the capital, Phnom Penh was mayhem. Clicking away, we try and capture everything that goes past. 20 minutes into the drive I put the camera down and sat back to take a moment to look around. The streets had no paths, the shop fronts stepped onto the road. There was no consistency of shops. One was selling big Truck and Tractor engines, while the next one was a fruit shop, others selling every bike part you could think of, and the next was selling used bricks and bamboo. Whatever they could get there hands on to make a Dollar.
Zooming past our Tuk Tuk on both sides were motorbikes, some with whole families on them, and some stacked 8 foot high with what I could only describe as their garden shed. There is a constant ringing in my ears of car, truck and bike horns going off in every direction.
After the hustle and bustle of fighting through the the streets of Phnom Penh, we arrived at “Hotel number 9” where our Taxi awaits us. From the Tuk Tuk to the Taxi, we jumped in with no time to spare, and we are off again. I take front seat and Drew shares the back with one of the volunteers, Kellyanne.
With a quick intro we set off with our eyes glued to the windows. Driving back down the street we just came from, it made me realize just how poor and poverty stricken this country is, with decades of war and conflict. As we drive on we get to a stretch of road where on both sides are huge industrial factories, with the street heaving with people. Mostly women and young girls. Young girls no older than 10 years old. Young girls who should be at school learning and getting an education. But instead they are sent to work so they can put food on the table. This really upset me seeing this.
50% of the population in Cambodia is under 20 years old, but what does there future hold? Uneducated and living of less than $1 a day. And this is exactly why we are here, to help give these children an education, a future… Hope…