Siem Reap: Soccer, spiders, acrobatics and more!

As soon as exams ended and the dorms closed up, 15 students and three faculty chaperones packed their bags for a trip to Thailand and Cambodia.

Following an exciting soccer game, we began a long drive from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. 
We’re ready to cheer on our new favorite
soccer team – the Phnom Penh Crown!

We made multiple stops along the way, including a spider village where many of us dared to eat some bugs. (Don't worry - they tasted kind of like fries!) 
Students try “tasty treats” (aka spiders).
Then, we stopped at jungle temples that were built in the seventh century. The temples were taken over by ficus roots, which break down rock and often cause the destruction of temples. 

A group picture in front of the temple
in the jungle.
Afterwards, we continued on our journey towards Siem Reap. Upon arrival, we had a few hours to relax, and we chose to get massages. We went to dinner at one of Mr. Brown's favorite restaurants in Siem Reap called Green House. Afterwards, we also had a few hours to do what we wanted, and some chose to take a dip in the pool. (We chose to put flash tattoos all over our bodies!)

The next morning, we were given the opportunity to sleep in (which we all desperately needed). We began our journey through the Siem Reap temples, especially Ta Phrom, which you can recognize from Angelina Jolie's movie Tomb Raider. After a nice lunch at a restaurant that supported Cambodian children called Friends 'n Stuff, we went to a Cambodian circus that takes in underprivileged children and gives them an education as well as a career. 

After a workshop, we stepped back
and let the professionals show us
their skills.
They taught workshops in juggling and acrobatics, and some of us were definitely less gifted than others in certain skills - but that was okay because we all had the same amount of encouragement, fun, and excitement. It was really refreshing when everyone was supportive of each other, even when we rolled off course, dropped juggling balls on our heads, and kicked each other over.

We’re all still smiling even after a few of us
(and a professional) take a tumble.
The following morning, we slept in a little bit and left at 8:30. We visited two more temples in Siem Reap and saw how aspects of Buddhism and Hinduism combined in their architecture. After a delicious (and wonderfully fulfilling) lunch, we headed to a village on stilts. During the rainy season, the roads flood and water rises to the level of the houses. It was amazing to see the houses dry now, and imagining how the village would look like flooded, with boats instead of cars. While we couldn't take a boat ride because of an impending storm, we grabbed some delicious dinner and took the extra time to visit the Night Market. 
The houses on stilts are elevated during the dry
season, and the lower level provides storage and
living spaces for animals.