In the morning we set off to the real villages of Siem Reap, visiting local farms to see their traditional farming, cooking and trade in action. No some of these were beautiful, the crafts and wares; some of these were interesting, such as the rice wines with rattle snakes or scorpions in the base of the wine to enhance flavour and ward off evil spirits; and some simply unpalatable.... that being the very famous and traditional fish paste. Used as a cooking ingredient all year round in traditional dishes. But the stench of the farm was so powerful it made your eyes literally water... some of use dry heaving from the taste on the back of the throat... this was one stop that we did not stay long nor sample any of the produce.
A traditional Monk blessing was shared to being good health, hope and luck for the future. It is always insightful to see the Monk in action... his lowered eyes, his refusal to make any skin to skin contact, the heavy tattoos across his body.... this combination could instil concern in certain situations, but instead the precise, rhythmic movements and hum of the monk reassure and brought a sense of peace.... with all 12 of us sitting in silence as we awaited our blessing, is was also a moment to be still, to reflect and take on board his sacred chanting.
In the afternoon we visit some of the survivors that we have supported and are now working, financially independent and craving out a life for themselves. One of these women, Sur Kim, completed her training as a seamstress... she now has her own business creating western and traditional garments. The shop that she works from is her own and funded by PROJECT FUTURES. For $500, this woman can own her own business (including the building), receive stocks and resources for 6-months to get her started, and thereafter support her family.
We could not resist and started ordering bespoke dresses and garments... mind you, for less then $20 we could have any dress in a wide range of fabrics. Most importantly, we got to celebrate and support her, not for her past hardships, but to celebrate her incredible skills and success.