project kaleidoscope, cambodia (2011)

Thursday, May 15, 2014
One of the most memorable project that i was involved with during my time in Eusoff Hall would be the Overseas Community Involvement Project - Project Kaleidoscope. Throughout the entire year, we organize activities and events to raise funds, create awareness, volunteering in our own community and ultimately to volunteer in the rural area of Cambodia for two weeks.

The entire team with some of the villagers in front of our humble abode for two weeks

Throughout our two weeks stay in Prey Ang Kunh village, we improved sanitary conditions through constructing wells and toilets, conducted english lessons, art & craft sessions, as well as a mini sports day for the children from the village.

The construction of wells and toilets, where most of the work that we did was very basic
Teaching the children some really basic english hoping to make a difference in their lives
With my adorable class of lions, i believe they had a good time like i did

We were all really happy that the children enjoyed the sports day

After our arrival, the children would come by our house everyday before and after school. They are contented and happy just by playing simple games with us, playing hide and seek, skipping ropes and simply just being around us.

That's Keith, the very talented photographer who took all the beautiful pictures, all credits to him
We often have very long queue for the basketball station, the simplicity of having a fun time
While we were busy building toilets, the children entertain themselves playing with the construction materials

Every morning, i will wake up to the sounds of the birds, chickens and cows. It's carefree living at its best. One of the things that i look forward to is the evening walk to the field with the kids. They love to impress us by catching live crabs from the paddy field, and the naughty ones would try to throw it into our clothes. It freaks me out! But some of the kids were protecting me the entire time, it was hilarious.

The short walk leads to a gorgeous field where we would enjoy beautiful view of the sunset
The children would start to catch crabs with their bare hands
Laying down on the field is probably one of the best thing to do
All set and ready for the gorgeous sunset!

Besides all the above, we had to take care of ourselves by cooking meals for the entire team, washing our clothes and took turns to shower with the well water (the boys are usually kind enough to pump the water for us). Each team is assigned different task everyday, ranging from construction, visitation, teaching, as well as cooking meals for the entire team.

Buying our ingredients at the local market, deciding what to cook for the team
Each team would try to outdo each cooking, and this beef steak with mashed potato, sauteed mushroom and garlic bread was probably our best, and not forgetting the caramel banana for dessert :)
This girl here is the ever bubbly and happy, Valencia - my laundry, gossip and foodie partner

Sometimes we would try to wake up early to catch the sunrise. We would walk to the field under the rose-pink light of dawn in our sleepy state. And did i mention the amazing moonrise that we saw? I still remember very clearly, the night we walk to the field in pitch black darkness, so dark that i can't even see my hand. We sat on the field, just talking about nothingness, then this amazing thing happened. We saw a gleam of light in the darkness wondering what it was at such an ungodly hour, then after much debate, we finally believed what Keith claimed as to be a moonrise. It was one of the few truly euphoric moments I've experienced.

The lovely rose-pink light of dawn wakes me up immediately!
Looking back at my pictures, i was wondering when did i go to hawaii
YAY! to awesome sunrise, waking up early was worth it after all
That amazing moonrise, look at the stars! It was actually really dark, the camera was just too good

On our final night, the villagers prepared a feast and gathered together to show their gratitude and appreciation for all our work. I believe they brought all the alcohol that they have, and party the night away with us.

All happy with the super yummy food!
Finishing up the drinks was kind of obligatory, which help us to enjoy the night even better

All who was involved have the same goal, to make the lives of the less fortunate kids in the village a better one, raise the maturity and skill level of the villagers in the long term and eventually empower them to escape their poverty status. We had the chance to bring service learning and spirit of volunteerism beyond the local boundaries and be exposed to realities of the harsh lives in poorer countries.

Our team successfully constructed 10 wells, 22 toilets, distributed 250 water filters, and donated USD1,350 for education and animal rearing.

It was heartbreaking to leave the children on our last day. I truly wish and pray that they are doing well, and will make a difference to the village.


summary of bali (2010);

Thursday, May 01, 2014
Bali, the island that is always regarded as Island of the Gods with gorgeous landscape of mountains, beautiful coastline and sandy beaches, stunning rice terraces with a unique culture and heavenly cuisine should be nominated as a paradise on earth. While in Bali, one will never run short of things to do and food to tuck into.

Here's a quick summary of my short trip in paradise:

Right after we landed, we were being picked up to Ubud (central Bali), which is my favorite place in Bali. We stayed at Saren Indah Hotel, where the location is pretty central and just a short walk to the Monkey Forest.

After checking in, we spent the next few hours exploring around with our rented bikes. Not only is Ubud a beautiful village, it's a food heaven as well. Here's a list of some of the must-eat in Ubud,

Crispy duck from Bebek Bengil (Dirty Duck Diner). Well, i've heard of people complaining about the crispy duck being too dry and overrated, but i absolutely disagree and love this dish. The ambience was fantastic and you can opt for a private hut overlooking the paddy field. I highly recommend making reservation beforehand and be there before sunset to admire the gorgeous paddy field.

Naughty Nuri's Warung serve the legendary pork ribs, the best i've ever tasted in my life. Trust me, you should never leave Bali without tasting it. The ribs were so tasty and tender, one is never enough.

Cafe Wayan is a popular warung that serve a huge variety of indonesian food. It is hidden in a garden oasis with seating options from pretty pavilions with cushion on the floor or table and chairs nestled among lush green gardens and lotus ponds. I absolutely love their Nasi Campur, and the sate lilit that comes with the rice is so delicious!

Ibu Oka Warung is mainly famous for their babi guling (roast suckling pig). While we were there, the famous special dish that includes a bit of everything was sold out so we only manage to try the set with roast pork and fried skin. Personally, i find it nice but not amazing. I would love to be back again to try the famous special dish.

Well, besides eating around Ubud, we spent the next two days visiting some of the famous spots around Bali. We hired a personal guide, Rai who is very knowledgable and so friendly that we immediately hit off as friends. Not only is he informative, he takes interest in photography hence all our pictures taken by him were beautiful. He is reliable and flexible with our schedule, at the same time gives very good advice and suggestion. I would highly recommend him, so do book him in advance.

Pura Taman Ayun, a beautiful garden temple built on water that is built in the 17th century. Do note that ladies are strictly not allowed to enter during their menstruation period.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan (Lake Bratan Temple) is my favourite temple among all. This temple sits on Lake Bratan and gives an illusion that it is actually floating on the water. It is a beautiful temple with a stunning setting and gorgeous background.

Tanah Lot Temple is an extremely popular place of interest in Bali that sits on a huge eroded outcropping of rock offshore. This is perhaps the most photographed temple on the island and is certainly one of the iconic images of Bali. Sunset at Tanah Lot Temple is spectacular, and i highly recommend though it gets really crowded.

Tegalalang Rice Terrace is a beautiful and exquisite rice field located in the north of Ubud. We had a quick stopover here as it was drizzling, and was totally mesmerized by it (probably because it's my first time seeing a rice terrace field). It would be great if we had time to drink a cup of tea overlooking the stunning rice terrace.

Pura Besakih (Mother Temple of Besakih) is the largest temple in Bali. It has stepped terraces and flights of stairs which ascend to a number of courtyards and brick gateways that in turn lead up to the main spire. This place is HUGE.

Pura Luhur Uluwantu is one of the oldest temple in Bali located on a cliff top. The temple is inhabited by large number of monkeys, do keep a very close grip on all your belongings else the monkeys will snatch it away. We manage to catch the kecak dance performance during sunset.

We had seafood dinner at Jimbaran Beach before we move to Kuta for the night. Many would come here to catch the sunset, but we were too late for it. There's countless seafood restaurant here, and you should really look around before settling with one.

After dinner, we took off to Kuta and check in to Febri's Hotel & Spa. After leaving our luggage in the room, we jump right into the pool and had an early night. We rented bikes and spent the next day exploring Kuta and the surroundings.

We walk around Kuta beach and find it a little overcrowded with touts selling souvenirs, henna tattoos and massages. I find the beach further down at Legian to be much nicer though quite crowded as well. We had a quick look at the Hark Rock Hotel and ended up taking lots of pictures with their beautiful exterior design. After a while, we rode off with our bikes to     Ku De Ta - the legendary beach club where beautiful, bronzed, bikini-clad bodies laze about in the sun, sip cocktails while watching the sunset and party late into the night.

On our last night, we had a couple of drinks at Jalan Legian, which is the main party area. There's a huge variety of clubs, lounge bar, and pubs that is sure to cater to everyone. Our final day is spent doing some last minute shopping and of course, to have our final massage before leaving this beautiful island. While in Bali, one should always find time for spa and massage everyday if possible :)

I fell in love with Bali and just couldn't sleep the night i was back. And guess what, i spent the night booking my air ticket to Bali for the following year!