Volunteering in Cambodia - Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Elephant Sanctuary and Angkor Watt

This summer I spent a month in Cambodia with Camp Cambodia, and I can safely say I am so glad I chose to spend my summer with them. South East Asia is such an amazing place to start your backpacking adventure as everything is close together and relatively cheap. Now I'm back from my adventure I am longing to be back and debated staying in SE Asia for longer, and contacted my flight company about delaying my flight and possibly visiting Vietnam or Thailand. But sadly my bank account was not full enough for me to extend it but I will be back.

Camp Cambodia is an organisation run by Camp.co.uk which allows you to teach English as a foreign language to less developed countries. I was extremely happy I chose Camp Cambodia and couldn't rate it any higher. Due to the genocide which happened in Cambodia, there is a generation gap which means there is a lack of teachers, making there a demand for international teachers. A top tip I would recommend before going to Cambodia would be making yourself aware of Cambodia's history as the backlash of everything which happened there is still has a strong presence today.

My journey started in the city of Phnom Penh, the city was crammed with life with people everywhere and it gave me my first taste of Asia. In Phnom Penh was explored some of Cambodia's history, both recent and some much older. We saw sights such as the 'National Museum of Cambodia' where we learnt about the history of Cambodia as well as places as 'S21' and the 'Killing fields' which are part of Cambodia's more recent history. Although S21 and the killing fields were a heartbreaking place to be, I'm extremely glad I got see and learn about Cambodia's darker history as at school we got taught about the Holocaust, and Rwanda's Genocide but the Cambodian Genocide was never even mentioned and it happened in my parents lifetime. In Phnom Penh, I stayed at the Royal Guest house, which was basic but more than what we needed and I felt extremely safe in the hotel as they have 24/7 security. Overall I would give the Royal Guest House a 7/10 and would happily stay there again. It was just very basic.


From Phnom Penh, we got the 8 hour night bus up to Siem Reap which was something nothing quite like I'd ever done before. But I would recommend if you are a solo traveller either booking yourself two seats or making sure you book the buses with a single bed on one side and a double on the other. Otherwise, you may have to sleep next to someone you don't know. I found the night bus surprisingly easy and slept for most the way and we arrived in Siem Reap 2 am and from there we checked into Jasmine Family and moved to Jasmine Lodge the next day. I would recommend either of these hotels highly, and the staff at Jasmine lodge were nicest I'd ever met, especially Han.

Siem Reap was where we were going to be spending most of our time, and we taught four schools in the area. These being Agape, The Elephant Sanctuary school, Feeding Dreams and My grandfather's school. I loved the teaching experience as could easily go back to teaching, although I would never have it as a full-time career.

One of my highlights of the trip was going to the elephant sanctuary, this was where we got to go on a jungle tour and volunteer with rescued elephants. Which means NOT riding them. Whilst we were at the elephant sanctuary we learnt about how they tortured the elephants so they would perform for them. This is why I stress for people not to ride elephants. This was a highlight for me as Elephants are one of my favourite animals, and I was truly heartbroken when I learnt about how they are tortured, as the mahouts break the spirit of the elephant but I'll go more into that in another blog.

Angkor Wat. The worlds largest religious building, and a place filled with beauty beyond our wildest dreams, until you see it for yourself you may think that the photographs give you a realistic idea of what to expect. But I found seeing Angkor Wat at sunrise completely blew my expectations out of the water as I felt like I was in a painting, as the sky showed us colours of red filled with the anger and love of Cambodia's history. One tip I would stress on would be to visit more than just Angkor Wat, as the other temples within the Kingdom are just as beautiful. One thing which I would make people aware of if the fact that there are people riding elephants outside of Angkor Thom.

Whilst at Angkor Wat, I also did the Flight of the Gibbon zip line experience which I can say was an amazing experience, as I hate heights but love the feeling of adrenaline and pushing myself to new limits. We did the half zip line and this cost $59 (yes they use US Dollars) which included 5 zip lines and abseiling down, as well as taxis to and from and dinner. Pretty good hey? I found the zip lines amazing but wished I'd done the full course, as I was wanting more as the views were nothing like I'd ever seen before.

Until the next month,

Ashleigh xx

Here is the discount code, to give you £15 off your first trip over £55.