Years 2009: This idea is from one of the American person (John) who have came to my parents's house and
having lunch together with my family. During the lunch time, he was mentioned that (the food are very
delicious and through this we could create a cooking class, Ben. The tourists are always looking for
something else to do before or after the temples).
Since 2012 we have been helping travelers to discover the REAL Cambodian Culture,
Creating a Unique Culinary Experiences that last a LIFETIME.
Siem Reap Countryside Cooking Class Created
In 2009, after John was mentioned about creating a Cooking Class, and he try all his
best to promote the class but at that time we don't have TripAdvisor, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and
we had a difficult time to promote. We only do through hotels and many hotels in Siem Reap asking for
commission. As we are a NOT-FOR-PROFIT cooking class and we do not give the commission. And at that time,
i still working at hotel too and I did not have much time to run the class, I only run the class at the Weekend
(Sat & Sun).
Until 2012, John brought his Children come along. Jammy & Alice. We have had a good time together and sharing
lots of fun with my family & John's family. One of those day John decided to say something to me:
Ben, I planted the crop in Cambodia, Now my crop is growing well and healthy, My crop is also old
enough to give a shade to other people who need help.
I was quite shock as I did not know what he was talking about. My question was,
- What kind of crop were you planted?
- Where & When did you planted?
He obviously known that i did not know of what he was talking about, then he said:
=> 1: I have plant a crop in Cambodia, Mean: You are the crop that i have planted. I sent you go to school, I paid for your school fee, that was
how i planted my crop. And end of each terms, I sent some cash to you, that was how i feterlize my plant.
=> 2: Now my crop is growing well & healthy, Mean: You use your ability to get a job at the Hotel, Restaurant, You use your knowledge to giants those experiences
and the speaking skill, You also grow up and become a mutual person, You also be able to saved the money to pay
the dept which i was asking you to pay 50% of school fee and you saved for $1200.00 which was much
more than what i have expected.
=> 3: The crop is old enough to give a shade to other people who need help, Mean: You have got all those experiences, Ben. You growing older, You are mutual person, You are a man,
You be able to saved the money for the school fee which i asked you to pay 50% and you archived it.
Also we have this COOKING CLASS and it is not for me or for you either. It is for your own people here.
Can you help me to run this cooking class and use those fees to support the orphan kids and the poorest
people in your country?
In 2012, I was young and I did not event know what i am going to do in my life. How can i take this over? (I was thinking)
John said: I know what you are thinking about Ben. Listen: The reason why I asked you to run this cooking class, Because you really not suppose to rich with
the money at all Ben. You should rich with your heart and everyone will remember and love you forever.
Think about this Ben:
When we were born, we were completely naked. We did not bring any clothes with. So, when we are die, we also
did not bring anything with us at all, even an iPhone. Then when you have a comfortable life, can you run
this cooking class in order to get the fund from tourists and use that fee to support to the people
who are hungry for EDUCATION, FOOD, HOMELESS. That the Cooking Class is for, BEN
I was thinking again & again then I said: Yes, I will run the class for my own people. => John Said: That is my boy. He huged me very tied (and he also crying at the same time). We had a great
time together there and he spend a month staying with us, then he decided to go back to United State.
Two months later on 17th October 2012, i got a phone called from the United State from Alice & Jammy saying
that PAPA passaway. I was socked to hear that news. I really LOVE him.
After John passaway, I continue my work at the hotel as a Hotel General Manager until October 2014, I decided
to quit my job and I took two months vacation for travelling around South East Asia (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam,
Singapore & Malaysia). Then i return home, I start this cooking on 07th January 2015 to support the orphan kids
on his behalf.
How do i meet with John?
In 2002, I still study at High School (Grade 12) and during the school vacation,
I took a bicycle and cycling to Temples (Especially to Angkor Wat). When i arrived, I saw many tourists there. I Said:Hello, my name is Ben. I am a student, I am here just to practise the language, what is your name?
I just did a random conversation to tourists as I do not care who they are, where they from. As long as I see
white skin, brown hair, sharp norse, I called BARANG. Some of tourists spend a few minutes talking to me,
some of them spend 10 or 15-minutes talking to me. Depending on how much time they have. BARANG mean a direct translated is
FRENCH PEOPLE as Cambodia used to be a French Colonial for more than 80- years.
One day, I saw a person who standing in front of water lyly pound where most of tourists
watching Sunrise. He was talking pictures with his big camera, tripod to get a good picture reflection from the water.
Then I started to talk to that person the same conversation as other tourists before. I said:Hello, my name is Ben, I am a student, i'm here just to practise English, what is your name?
He did not talking to me at all, he only just turn his head and looked at me, then he looks back into his camera
and continue clicking, not even one single word respond to me. I stood there for 5 minutes and I thought that
I disturbed his work and I decided to walk out from there.
I was eating lunch with salted dry fish on top of Angkor Wat Tower and I heard footstep walking behind my back,
I looked up and I saw that guy (the man who took picture at the reflexion place), then i was thinking of myself
(This man, i tried to speak to him when he was out there but then he did not want to talk to me. And now I am
busy eating lunch, and i don't want to speak to him then). But then for a little while, he decided to talk to me: He Said:Is it a good lunch? I Said:Yeah..... for me.
10-minutes later, I was not feeling comfortable that has someone standing behind my back and watching me eating
lunch, then i decided to talk to him: Would you like to join my lunch? He Said:Oh, yeah. If you don't mind. I Said:No, no not at all. Please come.Then Our conversation start and we get to know each other. He Said:Why are you here? I Said: I am here just to practise my English as I have studied and I don't want to forget it and plus it
is a school vacation and we have no classes. He Said: Oh, I see. Can I teach you some new vocubularies, grammar & sentenses, is that ok? I Said: That would be very nice. But, do i have to pay? He said: No, no. You don't have to pay anythings at all. You shared your lunch to me and I am sharing the
knowledge to you, that should be a fair trade, isn't it?
From 12.30pm afternoon until 5.30pm, we had a great time learning from each other at the temple.
Works & Study
In 2005: John return to Cambodia (Siem Reap) and sent me to school. There was one English
school in town call ACE it is standing for Australian Center for Education. He help to pay for the school fee
50% and other 50% he asked me to respond by myself. At that time, I don't have job and I don't have any money to
pay for the school fee and i was rejected his request. John Said: I will pay everything up front Ben, and when you have money, you can pay me later. It took me
2 or 3-weeks to make a decision. From an encourage of family, I decided to accepted John request. I went to study
at ACE with a full of worries as I did not have any money to pay for the fee. But then i look for job in
town. I found a job at a hotel and I worked as a hotel Receptionist from 6.00am untill 3.00pm and i get pay $65.00
per month. I also work another job from 4.00pm till mid-night at the Restaurant as a Kitchen Helper, $45.00/month.
And I asked the restaurant boss to take off from 6.00pm to 7.45pm for my study at ACE everyday.
Live - Works & Saving
In 2005, I start working at the hotel from 6.00am until 3.00pm for the hotel reception.
I got pay $65.00/month for my basic salary. I rent a room in the city, cost me $45.00/month and I also pay
$15.00 extra for electricity and water. So $60.00 out of my hotel work salary is gone. I only have $5.00
left to eat for a whole month. I use that $5.00 to buy a big box of instant noodle, I ate everyday (Breakfast,
Lunch, Dinner). My $45.00/month from the kitchen helper, I took $10.00 to support my youngest sister to study,
$20.00 to give to my parents. I got left $15.00 for saving in my piggy bank. Also, i got $1.00 or $2.00 from
customers by helping to carry the luggages from the lobby to the room when they check-in and down to the lobby
when they check-out, i save inside my piggy bank too. I have done that for 4-years.
Until 2009, John came and celebrate certificate with me at ACE. After the ceremoney done, John said: Ben, you were mentioned on email that you have rent a room in the city to stay in as your
parents'house is too far for you to cycling to work, is it possible to visit your rent? I Said: but it is very small and don't laugh at it. John Said: Well, I just want to see how and where do you live, that is it. I Said: Oh, Ok.
When we reached at the place where i rent, he looks around the place, and John asked: Is this the place you stay in, Ben? I Said: Yes, this is it. John Said: Are you sure? Is this the place you staying in? I Said: Yes, this is a place where i rent for $45.00 per month and i have stayed here for 4-years already
as you can see the Shirt you bought for me is hanging there, the bicycle you bought for me is still here too.
Why it could not be a place where i rent?
I can see his mouth shaking, his eyes turn red and tear dropping down, he crying and walked outside.
I quickly come inside to take off the mosquito net, folding the blanket, and put all of those on top of each
other nicely. John Said: I cannot believe that you can live in such a place like that. You see underneath of your
sleeping bed, there is a running waste water, how can you breath with that smell?, the trush & the mosquitos?.
It is not healthy at all Ben. I Said: Yes, i know it is not healthy but it is convenience for me to go to school, just 5-minutes walk.
and 5-minutes to go to work. This is good enough for me. I have something for you, John. I took the three
piggy banks under my sleeping bed and broke all of them. We both counting the money that i have saving for 4-years.
it was USD1200.00 from all three piggy banks. I put in envelope and I've written on it (John's school fee),
then I knee down in front of him and pass it to him. I said: John, this is the money for a school fee for the 50% that we have agreed together, I knew it
is not enough for now, but at least i pay some to you and the rest i will pay later. It could help me to releast
some of my streess as well. John said: Thanks, boy, I take it. Get up, please.
The next day, i took him with a scooter to my parents house located 13km away from city center. Once we reached
at my parents house, My MOM & My DAD cooked the food to welcome our guest and we all having Lunch together there.
During the Lunch time, John was mentioned about creating a Cooking Class. At the end of the day John Said: Ben, Where is Mummy? I Said: She is up stair - sewing my clothes. John Said: Ok, can i go to see her before we go back to the city? I Said: Yes, ok, no problem. Take your time.
John came towards my MOM and he gave all the money from the envelop to my MOM and MOM did not know what was inside,
she quite happy and she said Orkun (Thank You). When John came down almost get on the scooter, my MOM ran very
quickly toward Me & John and: My MOM Said: Ben, why is this Foreigner gave me lots of money? I Said: John, what are you doing? Why you gave all these money to my MOM? This is the money that i've been
saving for 4-years in order to pay for the school fee. Why? John Said: One day you will understand, Ben. (He put his hand on my head.) I Said: I don't need to know one day John. I want to know now, why? John Said: You know what? I am a banker, I have a chance to travel the world and I have seen / met
lots of people in my life. There are good and bad people everywhere. But when i see your parents, Ben.
This is a Human being should be. They are poor, Ben. But they are very pure. Looks at their smiles, it is beautiful, Ben.
And the most Friendliest people I ever met. They don't speak English but They make a very DELICIOUS food that
I ever tasted, and above all of these, I don't mind to pay for a Lunch? I Said: Oh my god. A USD1200.00 for a Lunch is very expensive. No you don't have to pay for Lunch at all.
And MOM, please don't take any 1-single dollar from there. My MOM Said: No, No. I did not take any money out from that at all. John Said: Hey, MOM. Then i will give you $100 for the Lunch then. My MOM Said: Ort Yok Te, Orkun (No, Thank you) John Said: Here is the $50 then My MOM Said: Ort Yok Te, Orkun (No, Thank you)