After a nutritious breakfast of bread, peanut butter, bananas, and dragon fruit, we boarded our bus to the Tonle Sap lake, the largest in all of South East Asia. After getting on our boats (13 people in each), we made our way through the river to the Tonle Sap. The river was surrounded by houses on 20 or 30 foot stilts. The river in the wet season will rise to the houses doorsteps, which was about 30 feet higher than what we were boating through. We came to a part of the river surrounded by forest. Yut told us that during the wet season, people in the five provinces like to hunt rats because they are considered healthy because they stay in the trees, and supposedly eat only greens for the months of the rainy season. The trees are tall, but during the rainy seasons, all but the tops of the trees are submerged in water. Due to the fact that it was the dry season, we were able to see the exposed structures beneath the houses that are used to support the main parts of the buildings. After about an hour, we got to the open lake and ate lunch at a floating restaurant. We had fried rice and noodles, which were both really good. It was an incredible experience eating lunch on a floating platform in the middle of a lake. While one of the boats was on its way back to bus, it’s engine stopped working and it had to be towed by another boat. We walked through a village in very intense heat to reach the bus, but it was interesting to see the stilt houses up close.
We drove back to Metta Karuna, our interfaith center to work on a wheelchair project with land mine victims working on the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines. We split into teams of 4 and constructed 4 “Mekong Wheelchairs,” which are great designs for Cambodian terrain and resources. Some were for children and others for adults. We then sat down with Nobel peace prize recipient and land mine victim named Reth. He explained to us the importance of the land mine and cluster bomb treaties signed by many but not all countries in the world. He inspired everyone to love one another and “grow the rose in our hearts” in order to eliminate the land mines and prevent such violence from happening again.
We enjoyed our last dinner in Cambodia at a restaurant called “Brown Rice” where we took a quiz about the information we’ve learned throughout the whole trip. The smartest and most talented team named, RZS, aka Rory, Zoe, and Sophie won the competition. After dinner, we all went out to the Blue Pumpkin for some ice cream before returning back to Metta Karuna to pack and get a good night’s sleep.