Myles Harrington

Posts Tagged ‘Kampot’

School’s Out

In Cambodia on November 2, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Last Thursday was the final day of term at Chumkriel Language School, that meant it was time for the end of term exams and then a long ‘bank holiday’ style four-day weekend to celebrate the King’s coronation and birthday. It was also our final day in Kampot so we treated the kids before their tests to a few pressies we’d bought at the market in the morning, two fishing sets, lots of building blocks, skipping ropes and a golf set. They were thrilled and manged to break all of the golf clubs and squash all the balls within a few minutes.


A Cambodian Tiger Woods teaches Shubes a thing or two


My first class that has been learning its ABCs simply had to write A-Z on a piece of paper. It’s traditional in Cambodia to cheat in tests, something that the teachers were weakly trying to eradicate for this exam and joking that of course they have cheated in every exam they’ve ever taken. One of the cutest little girls, who is actually the best in the class of 50 at reciting her ABCs was even found with a strip of the alphabet written on her lap. The kids were openly chatting during the test and glancing around the room for inspiration or a helping lip sync from a friend. It brought back all the nerves of school exams to me and I couldn’t help but give a few clues as I wondered around and saw the struggling teary eyed kids with sheets that only contained A B C D.


The cheating little shit didn't get away with it


The second class that I had to independently supervise for their test was quite a bit older, probably ranging from 13-17. I was a hard task master and managed to keep the exam room European style silent. There were the odd whispers that I had to let slip when I couldn’t detect the perpetrator, but on the whole I think I did a good job at keeping the cheating to a minimum. I moved two students and deducted marks off four. They all hated me at the end, so it was lucky I was leaving town the next morning.

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Comparisons Between My Hometowns

In Cambodia on October 22, 2010 at 9:03 am

Today is my tenth day of living in Kampot and I really feel like I know the place now. We’re taking shortcuts through the dusty streets and are regulars at a couple of the restaurants and bars, I even get a nod of recognition from the cashiers at the supermarket. Although the town’s population is supposedly 33,000, there is much more of a village feel to it. One of the most fantastic aspects of Kampot, which definitely makes me feel at home, is the amazing array of roundabout designs. My other hometown of Basingstoke is well-known for its roundabouts, the Chineham Wave and Stonehenge examples spring to mind as wonders of modern architecture but Kampot takes the doughnut on this one, with the year 2000 monument and the new, yet to be finished, jack fruit centrepiece on the main traffic circle.


Roundabout wars, left the year 2000 monument Kampot, right the Chineham Wave, Crockford Lane roundabout, Basingstoke


The work at the school is going well, it’s strange to be in a routine for the first time in over six months but this one is a lot less taxing of my time than my previous job. A normal working day goes something like this; wake up at 11am, go to the market and buy some bread or instant noodles or stroll down to a local restaurant for a light lunch. We then head back to our guesthouse for some relaxation time, usually filled with an hour of BBC World News or a nap. At ten to three we have a 3km cycle to the school in Chumkriel village. I play football, create some Lego statues and draw some pictures with the children between 3 and 5pm and then take two English classes between 5 and 7pm. My first English class is full of little kids that I’m teaching the alphabet to, the second class is half monks and half teenagers all at the level of about five or six-year-old English children but with half the confidence. It’s extremely enjoyable teaching the kids as they pick it up really quickly and come in every day humming ABCDEFG HIJKLMNOP, they get a bit stuck after the speed of LMNOP but we’ll get there.


The Chumkriel Learning Center, Kampot


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Setting Up Camp in Cambodia

In Cambodia on October 15, 2010 at 11:24 am

For the last two weeks we’ve not had a single day without a torrential downpour lasting at least a few hours, if not all day or night or both. I thought it rained a lot in the UK but this is something different, raindrops the size of marbles cascade in waterfalls down the sides of buildings and pound on the tin roofs to make a deafening tribal like drum beat. As I’ve come to expect when arriving somewhere totally new, it’s normally pissing it down upon my arrival, our disembarkment in Cambodia’s capital was no exception. Luckily for us, King Guesthouse where we were dropped by the chilly air-con minibus was offering rooms for a steal at $6 a pop. After six months away I’m starting to get weary of the hunt to save 30p, I’ve realised sometimes it’s just not worth it. Why traipse around for an hour in the storm to save a few pence and find a scummier room when the first option was adequate, a good deal and not mouldy?


In Asia the roads turn to rivers when the rain comes down


With Shubes feeling a little under the weather on our first full day in Phnom Penh we did virtually nothing. With the promise of a Heinz baked bean and cheese toasted (Breville) sandwich on the guesthouse’s menu, who would want to go out and see one of Asia’s prettiest capitals? They failed to live up to their promise and served an imitation bean on an under-toasted baguette. If this was the UK I would be complaining under The Trade Descriptions Act 1968. I eventually managed to drag Shubes out of the room, after a disappointing lunch, but only with the promise of clothes shopping. She didn’t disappoint in living up to the reputation of woman worldwide, a couple of new items and some new shoes later and we were done for the day.


The best bit of the shopping mall was the roller blading rink, Shubes would disagree


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