Cambodia 2016 - One year on

So, it turns out I'm useless at remembering to write blog posts and I never did get around to writing a follow up post - or any post at all - But here it is, finally, Cambodia part 2. But where do I begin? 

It's now been a year since my trip to Cambodia (where does time go?!) In my previous blog I shared a few stand out highlights of our trip, so I've decided to share a few more of my favourite photographs and memories. There are so so many photos to choose from but I finally picked out a few - who knows I may have new photos next year (fingers crossed).

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Stuck in the mud
The quick snap above was taken after a heavy downpour saw our tuk tuk come to a halt. We were stuck, stranded and left to navigate the muddy ground in nothing but our flip flops. While it sounds a nightmare, it was far from it! A fun taste of local life!

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These three women
To these three women, I wish I knew your names, I wish I could thank you and I wish I could have just one more minute in your company. I will never forget your faces, the hysteria with which you laughed at my spoken words, the fascination on your face as your son translated over and over the same three questions "Where are you from?", "What is your name?"  and "How many brothers and sister have you?". Your shrieks of laughter are etched on my heart.

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A beautiful scam
I totally fell for a money making scam in getting these ladies to bless my feet, head and new friendship bracelet - but who cares. I loved this beautiful moment in the middle of Angkor Watt surrounded by the ancient beauty of Cambodia.

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The girl and her cat
Such a little poser, she knew she was the in the spotlight and worked her puppy dog eyes as she grabbed a teeny tiny kitten and posed for the camera. This same girl was seen in 2015 holiding a puppy and with this kitten in 2016, wonder what she will cuddle next?

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The baby and who?
I wish I knew who the lady was, is she grandma, mother, auntie or someone else? The language barriers prevented me from finding this out, but it did not hide the beauty and colour of this moment.

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The Jungle Book in Cambodia
The boy hiding just out of shot in my 'these three women' shot. My favourite moment mirroring one of my favourite stories.

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A picture speaks a thousand words
Such beauty, truth and wisdom in one face, this image speaks more than a thousand words it tells the story of a lifetime.

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All good things
I look at this photo and see the future, the future of the children learning, the future of Edukid and Care for Cambodia, and also my own future. The anticipation to meet up with familiar faces and hear their stories, laughter and aspirations once more - All good things come to those who wait, I will return no matter how long the wait may be.

Cambodia 2016 - Post 1

So, the long awaited trip finally arrived. And now, sadly, it's been and gone.

On the 21st October I set off on my 48+ hour journey to Cambodia, and what a journey it was. 1 ferry, 1 bus, an overnight stay, 3 flights and a crazy taxi drive later I finally arrived at our Phnom Penh base and joined the Edukid 2016 team.

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While my time in Cambodia was short, it was by far the biggest experience of my life so far - and now that it's over I'd even say it was the best!

Edukid are an amazing charity based right here in the UK, and they work their socks off every single day to ensure that children living in poverty have access to a good education. This is something I got to witness first hand. I felt the love and care, saw the hard work and the enormous amount of effort that both Edukid and their in-country parnter (Care for Cambodia) put into each and every child within their projects.

Whilst working with Edukid and Care for Cambodia I was given the opportunity to visit some villages where their education projects are in full-swing. The villages were based around Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and each one provided a very different and individual experience. 

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So much was crammed into the trip that it's taken me a little while to digest the experience, even now, nearly 2 weeks later, I'm still finding myself looking through photographs and struggling to comprehend that I was there, that I saw it, and that it all really happened (someone pinch me, I must be dreaming). While it's really hard to explain what I saw and felt I can definitely pick out a few major highlights; 

Handing out school packs

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Running activities, crafts and games

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@rhiarhiajones

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Meeting the wonderfully inspiring people of Cambodia

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@rhiarhiajones

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@rhiarhiajones

 

Our little 'tourist' time

But, this experience wouldn't of been possible without the help of my many donators and supporters. So I thank you all, you've helped to make the seemingly impossible, possible. You've put a big smile on so many faces and connected communities from across the globe, you're all amazing! 

In the next few weeks I'll be writing a few more blog posts that will hopefully help you, my lovely supporters, to understand the impact your donations have made. I'll also be sharing details on how the Edukid 2016 team aim to sponsor an entire village, helping to secure the children's future in education, build an adequate classroom and train and support their teachers.

So stay tuned, our work has only just begun!

 

Camping in Keld

Me and Ryan are recently returned from a weekend camping in Keld. We've stayed at Rukins campsite before and decided to revisit the beautiful spot. 

Arriving late on a bank holiday Friday night we didn't expect to find our perfect pitch by the river empty, but we were pleasantly surprised so pitched up, grabbed a fire pit and settled in for a long, sunny weekend.

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 @rhiarhiajones

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Unlike our previous stay we decided to explore the wider campsite and stumbled upon stunning pools and waterfalls - I was hoping for warmer water to enjoy a plunge, but northern England's waters are made for those braver than me! We did spend some time perfecting our skimming stone technique before searching for dead wood which I later used to light a fire with all natural materials (an exciting first for me)!

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On Saturday we ventured off on a lovely walk to Muker, which took around 1 and a half hours. The path led along the banks of the river Swale and in-between the iconic rolling hills of the Dales where we spotted many pheasants and even caught a glimpse of hatchlings hidden away in a tree. In Muker we shared a bowl of chips, drinks and attempted the charity pub quiz at The Farmers Arms. 

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 @rhiarhiajones

Sunday saw us visit a favourite village, Hawes, where Ryan ate the world's best Ploughman's lunch (he's still talking about it now!) and I snuck away into a second hand bookshop to find a beautiful Mark Twain book just waiting to join my shelf.  

On our return from Hawes we stopped off at Hardraw to visit a hidden waterfall. Hardraw Force is currently England's highest, single drop waterfall and it was spectacular!!  I've been visiting the Dales since childhood and was shocked that I had never stumbled upon it before, it's well worth the couple of pound entry they charge so please don't be put off by this!  

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 @rhiarhiajones

 @rhiarhiajones

 @rhiarhiajones

And finally Monday arrived and it was time for home, but after one of the best, chilled out weekends we were reluctant to leave our riverside pitch behind - but we'll be back! 

A weekend away: Edinburgh

I've been meaning to write this post for a while now, it's actually been quite a few weeks since me and the girls returned from Edinburgh and about time our adventures hit the blog.

So, here's what we got up to in the beautiful, cosmopolitan city! 

With just two days to explore we created a plan of action, and as military as this sounds, it was a great help! 

Day 1: 

After arriving on the train just before lunch we set out for our apartment for a quick freshen-up and to dump the suitcases!  It wasn't long until we were back on the streets, walking the Royal Mile, and soaking in the Scottish drizzle. 

First stop was Camera Obscura, a museum I've visited many times but it never gets old!  This time armed with my new camera I set out to capture the optical illusions.

Camera Obscura (IG @rhiarhiajones)

Camera Obscura (IG @rhiarhiajones)

Camera Obscura  (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

Camera Obscura  (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

Camera Obscura  (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

Camera Obscura  (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

Next up was Whistlebinkies, a fantastic live music venue and a great spot to rest our feet after a long day! We managed to tuck ourselves away in a private seating area which I can only describe as an indoor bunker! 

Day 2:

The Surgeon's Hall, well what can I say about this popular museum?  Do NOT visit on a full stomach and be prepared to leave feeling a little worse for wear... While the museum contents were a tad gory, the building was absolutely beautiful! 

The Surgeon's Hall  (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

The Surgeon's Hall  (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

The Surgeon's Hall  (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

The Surgeon's Hall  (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

Afterwards we headed to Greyfriars for a well-known and trusted Nandos, before wandering around the world famous graveyard in hunt for the oldest tomb. We also petted the lucky Greyfriars Bobby dog, but I'm still waiting for my lottery win! 

Greyfriars (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

Greyfriars (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

Greyfriars Bobby  (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

Greyfriars Bobby  (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

We also visited the Natural History Museum, where I ran around like an over excited child... This was my first visit to a museum of this sort, and I highly recommend it. If you're not wanting to visit for the displays, you can't miss out on the building, and with free entry it's hard to say no!

Edinburgh's Natural History Museum  (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

Edinburgh's Natural History Museum  (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

Our last evening was filled with a free ghost tour of the city, which wasn't very scary, and a great game of the classic Cards Against Humanity.

Until the next time, goodbye Edinburgh!

On the Royal Mile  (IG @rhiarhiajones)

On the Royal Mile  (IG @rhiarhiajones)

Edinburgh Waverly station (IG @rhiarhiajones) 

Edinburgh Waverly station (IG @rhiarhiajones)