What? Melissa hasn’t finished posting pictures from the great Asia tour yet? No, not by a longshot. Two countries down, two to go. In Siem Reap, we stayed with friend-of-many-friends Bethany, a fellow teacher/adventure-seeker/yid.

Sunrise from Bethany's deck

Most of our time in Siem Reap was spent at Angkor Wat, and most of our time at Angkor Wat was spent like this:

Mr. Loeun and his tuk-tuk

Our host, Bethany, and Jeanette in the tuk-tuk with our old friend, Lonely Planet. (And apparently not happy with what they're reading.)

Angkor Thom, where Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was filmed.

Angkor Thom from a distance.

Large stone faces appear on dozens of towers surrounding the center of the Bayon at Angkor Thom.

Typhoon Ketsana washed out paths and roads throughout the complex. Solution: wooden boards resting on tree trunks. Oh, Cambodia.

Watching The Princess Bride at Bethany's school, outside of Siem Reap.

I didn’t get a chance to tell you about Bethany’s school when I first blogged about Cambodia, and it would be wrong of me to post about Siem Reap without mentioning the Jay Pritzker Academy. Had I known about this school when I was first looking into teaching, I would have applied there. JPA admits high-testing students from low-income families, pays for their schooling and transports them to and from the academy every day. A normal school day in Cambodia doesn’t last past noon, leaving kids out on the streets hawking souvenirs and begging every afternoon. But JPA keeps kids in school for a full day, with teaching standards comparable to, if not exceeding, those in America. Any student who graduates from JPA will have his college tuition and expenses paid for, regardless of where the school is. Bethany was kind enough to invite Jeanette and I into her classroom while we were in Siem Reap. The class had just finished reading The Princess Bride and as a treat, Bethany planned to show the film on a Saturday to anyone who wanted to come in on a weekend and see it. Surprisingly, all of her kids (including two sick ones) showed up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in their cute little uniforms at 8 a.m. The kids were friendly, talkative and well-behaved. A lot of tourists to Cambodia have a hard time getting past the conditions in which children live. The abbreviated school day, the street begging, the fact that kids walk around barefoot because they just don’t have a pair of shoes–it all wears on you. It’s hard to enjoy a country when you are surrounded by such extreme poverty, when the only kids you meet are the ones chasing you down yelling, “Buy postcard! Very good price!” Visiting JPA and spending time with some of the teachers and students shows me that the world has not yet given up on Cambodia.

Sunset at Angkor Wat on our final day in Siem Reap.

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