I Realized How Strong I can be in Koh Kong
Before Koh Kong
At 6:00 a.m. I was sitting at my desk in my bedroom. I was thinking about leeches because the next day I would be going to the evergreen forest in Koh Kong Province. At that time, my brain was imagining scary looking leeches, with their ugly faces and their fat bodies.
Later, my friend Neang, who comes from the same province as me, came in. She had been in the forest before me. She told me, “It is okay, the leeches will hurt you only a little bit and don’t worry about it too much.” Then we went to the kitchen and had lunch.
After lunch I started to pack. It was hard for me to pack everything from the packing list because it took a long time and there wasn’t so much space in the bag. I had to pack football socks to keep the leeches out of our pants. I also had to pack a blanket and sheet for sleeping.
I felt anxious that sleeping in the forest would be uncomfortable for me and that there would be a lot of small organisms in the forest that are SCARY.
Then I asked myself “Am I strong enough?”. But I already knew that I could do it because my friends always told me I could do it. Then I started to trust myself.
Experiences in Koh Kong
One day later was a day that I needed to sit on a bus for about five hours. After we got to a small town called Andoung Teuk, we took a boat to go to Chi Phat.
It took us two hours on the boat to get to Chi Phat. There were many things going on on the boat. For example, Jeff, two of my friends, Malika and Thiny, and I did math. On the boat, all of the students also looked at the view from the boat, talked with each other and watched for birds.
Two hours later we got off the boat and made a long line to pass all of the bags and other supplies off the boat. When we arrived in Chi Phat it was afternoon, so we went straight to the guest houses.
Thiny, Kanha, Ma Kim and I stayed in the same guest house. While Kanha was taking a bath we put our bags down, then we all waited for Kanha to finish her bath. Later we walked to the Visitor Center to eat dinner altogether.
At the Visitor Center we did our reflection about how our day had been or what was challenging for us and we also shared what we learned. After reflection we went off to sleep. The next day we went into the forest. We walked a lot in the forest. This is the the first time in my life to see leeches. In the forest my legs were bitten by leeches. Now I realized my friend, Neang, was right – the leeches only hurt me a little bit. Most of the time in the forest we were SCIENTISTS.
In the forest we hiked for three days. It was slippery and there were no stairs in the forest. So, we needed to find strong branches to hold on to. Sometimes I found thorny branches and they hurt my hands. Most of the time I slid down. My knees were cut by the sharp rocks and there was some algae growing on the rocks.
We explored O’malu waterfall and many other waterfalls, streams and the Stung Prat river. We slept at the forest shelter in our hammocks. While we were exploring O’malu waterfall my friends and I picked the fruit called Pring Kchol. It’s a small, black shiny fruit with a seed inside and it has a long, thin, light green leaves.
After Koh Kong on holiday
A couple weeks after Koh Kong was HOLIDAY! On my holiday I told my family, friends and neighbors about my trip to Koh Kong. While I was talking, one of my neighbors interrupted me and asked “You are a girl. Can you walk in the forest?”
“Why not?! I am strong like others,” I replied
“In my school called Liger, we don’t care whether you are a girl or boy” I explained.
After a while, I could tell that she understood it very well because I saw that her family didn’t care about whether you are a girl or boy. I knew this because I saw that her husband went to the market instead of her.
My new exploration, after the Koh Kong trip, was Tech Support. In this exploration we went to Singapore and I walked a lot. But I didn’t feel tired or lazy because I walked a lot more in Koh Kong than in Singapore.
I missed the people in Koh Kong and the smell in the village of Koh Kong. For example, the cook that cooked the yummy food for us, the moto drivers that drove us into the deep forest and the owner of the guest house that was nice and kept the gate open for us when we returned to the guest house late.
This is why my trip to Koh Kong is really important to me. I realized that it doesn’t matter if you are a girl or boy.You can do anything you want to if you trust