I was so tired
last night, I set my alarm for 6am but forgot to switch it on - so consequently was woken by Hugh knocking on my door. Had a 30-second cold shower, then the world's fastest dressing and packing exercise before we headed off to another pre-school.

More rural roads en-route.

The first preschool shelter was very small and basic, but did the job.

The shelter cost $20. Though one of the issues they have is that a shelter will be funded, but nothing else - so they still have to find the money for chairs and materials. There was, though, no shortage of great DIY posters, mobiles, etc.

There were also plenty of crayons and coloured pencils.

Julia was saying last night that it's pretty easy to get funding for hardware - everyone likes to be able to point to a physical structure and say 'We paid for that' - but much harder to get funding for things like training.

There was a well on-site, and a water filter.

The latrine was also spotless (Julia of course checked), but there was no soap.

I was reaching the point of feeling I had enough kld shots for several trips, but the Unicef team were keen to have as many as possible. Although Unicef has photographers, they haven't had one in Cambodia, and the field staff were struggling to take decent photos with their point-and-shoot digicams. So I guess a few more won't hurt ...

Unicef also paid for the materials to build some swings, which were built by the teacher's husband.

As before, the school had a visitor's book, which Hugh filled in.

Our next visit was to a pre-school based in the grounds of a primary school.

The design was identical to one of the early pre-schools we visited.

Laura had brought some pencils which she gave to one of the teachers.

Hugh and Sabine had been taking extensive notes

And absolutely everybody in the group was taking photos.

Laura put her bag down in an ants nest. They were rather large ants. One of the teachers said the ants were edible, and could be made into a paste that was spread on grilled fish. Laura didn't seem over-keen on trying this.

Then the final batch of kids photos. We arranged to meet Julia and some of the others from the Unicef team back in Phnom Penh on Friday evening. I suggested she bring a memory stick so I could give her the web versions of the photos. I said she could then let me know if she wanted print-res versions of any of them.

Some of the primary school kids were getting in on the act too.

I have to confess that this was entirely posed with the assistance of one of the teachers.

We then drove up to the Siem Reap province, arriving at the hotel at noon. Siem Reap is an increasingly popular tourist resort thanks to the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. It was almost a reverse culture-shock to see so many European faces.

After checking-in and having lunch, we took three tuk-tuks up to the floating village.

The floating village of Chong Kneas comprises people who live on houses perched precariously on crude jetties, and on board boats, in Lake Tonle Sap.

Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in SE Asia. It is fed by the Mekong river in the wet season, and feeds the river in the dry season.

We took a boat trip to see Chong Kneas.

Most of the people here earn their living from fishing.

Though some made a relatively lucrative living selling cold drinks to tourists in the middle of the lake.

Several of the aid agencies fund floating schools, with a playground on the floor above.

The lake is huge, looking much like the sea. The boat ride to Phnom Penh, for example, takes five hours.

This was a rather unexpected sight.

Though this was not: a boat with a cafe and tourist shop.

At which point, we declared ourselves finally off-duty and able to enjoy a few hours of being tourists. The entertainment, it must be said, was predominantly reptilian in nature.

Which permitted a brief cultural study in relative reactions to having a python wrapped around one's shoulders.

First, British (photo of me courtesy of Laura):

Next, German:

And finally American:

After heading back, we took the tuk-tuks up to one of the famous Angor Wat temples. It was late in the day when we arrived, so not ideal conditions for photography, so as we were returning in the morning, I decided to leave that to then.

I'm not a huge fan of sunset photos, being of the 'seen one, seen 'em all' school of thought, but it seemed rude not to take a few.

We went for dinner at a great restaurant called the Dead Fish. Well, great apart from the karaoke performed by the staff. It was like something from a bad 70s compilation album.

Most people were planning on getting up at 4.30am to head back to the temples to watch the sun-rise; my experience of these is limited, but my theory is that a sun-rise is just a sun-set in reverse, and sleep is the best 4.30am activity. I also wanted to complete the blog intro and background sections, which took me until 1am. I would thus join them there later.

>>> Friday ...