Katie Bonanno, Tori Bonner, Kevin Chang, Brittany Hazzard
Much to our dismay, today began bright and early at 6:30am, and sadly this has recently become the norm. We enjoyed a quick breakfast and hit the road. Not an hour into our journey, we were stopped by the police and the bus fell silent. We were lucky to find out that we were only about 5km away from the village the Cambodian prime minister was visiting. As excited as we were to be within walking distance from a high-ranking government official, this meant we were camped out at a small, open-air restaurant for just over two hours. Here we enjoyed an early lunch and spent some time working on group projects. Once notified that the road ahead was clear, we loaded back onto the bus and continued on our journey to the small town of Kratie.
A couple of hours later we reached a temple known as the Sambok Meditation Center, which was elegantly placed at the peak of a hill. We spent about an hour exploring the temple, which involved climbing literally hundreds of stairs. We witnessed first hand the efforts of many artisans working to repair the damage caused by the Khmer Rouge. Being able to see the sculpture in progress was as amazing as viewing the surrounding landscape from high on the hilltop. On the road again, our final stop for the day was a small stretch of the Mekong River, where we boarded small riverboats in search of Irrawaddy river dolphins. While some members of our group expected the dolphins to actually fly out of the water, we only saw their dorsal fins breach the surface. The boat ride was pleasant nonetheless and we headed for our hotel at sunset. Tomorrow we are off to our final destination, Siem Reap, where we expect to have even more enthralling adventures.