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Asia » Cambodia » South » Kep February 9th 2019

This is a late add, but even more justified. For the second day, we rented scooters and motored our way to Kep. This is a smallish town on the coast known for its crab and city statues. We enjoyed our time cruising along the water, stopping at the crab market, reading and playing cards in the bungalows. All-in-all a good day, except the one time I parked my scooter and turned only to have my calf touch someone else’s exhaust pipe. IT WASN’T EVEN MY BIKE (which had a cover over the exhaust pipe to prevent rookie drivers from doing such a thing)! Well my skin immediately turned ashen and blistered and throbbed in pain. Anatomy class tells me those are the key signs of a second degree burn. We explored the town a little more ... read more
Natural Remedy from the Garden

Asia » Cambodia » South » Kampot February 8th 2019

Today we rented some scooters (mopeds) and headed to Bokor National Park. The real adventure was taking a go at navigating the Cambodian roads. The good thing for me is Kampot is way less congested than Siem Reap. It was about a 30 minute ride to the national park and then 45 minutes winding up to the 1 kilometer peak. The curves were great training ground for learning to steer and the almost empty road was great for going at my own pace and seeing the view points and trees. The first stop Povokvil waterfall. During monsoon season, the water fall appears to be almost a horseshoe with many levels and drop ins. Now in dry season, there were two small trickles. It was still a great stop because you could hike in the river bed ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » South » Kampot February 7th 2019

Did you know there are different types of pepper? Today we visited the Kampot Pepper Farm (La Plantation) and learned move about pepper than my previous knowledge times 1000x. Due to Kampot’s soil composition, pepper grows extremely well here. In fact, at one time Cambodia was known for its pepper quality around the world. However, during the Khmer Rouge, all pepper plantations were shut down and exportation of it was stopped. There is now a revival of the industry particularly in the Kampot area. We visited a plantation which grows normal pepper which can produce: green, red, white, and bird pepper based on when it is picked and how it is fermented. Bird pepper is the most expensive because the grounds are collected out of bird waste. The digestive process (fermentation) in the bird stomach is ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North February 5th 2019

It is a weird thing to say something is the last. So final and clean cut. Today was the last day of volunteering in Siem Reap at Trailblazer, but the experience was exactly what I wanted it to be. Last time I volunteered, I left feeling very burnt by the NGO world, a little hopeless and very doubtful of the continuation of anything. Trailblazer has been the exact opposite. It existed before me and will continue to move forward. We replaced the old man filter of #25 from over 10 years ago with filter number 4226 during my time here. The filters we constructed the first week we got here are now just being delivered. I am but a blip in the progression of its mission. I am very glad that volunteering found its way into ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Angkor February 2nd 2019

Welcome to Yvonne this week...a new volunteer who works as a tour guide in Belgium and has traveled all over Europe and made a living sharing the history of places. If you sense some envy in my text, you are CORRECT! We asked Yvonne to join us to our day out at West Baray and spent the 30 minute Tuk Tuk ride hearing her incredible stories of volunteering with the Mercy Ships (boat hospitals) which have brought her to the Congo, Madagascar and also her volunteer time in India (again yes a little envy...but only a little maybe). West Baray is a reservoir outside of Angkor Thom and was built around the 11th century and is the world’s largest handcut reservoir measuring 2.1 km by 7.8 km. There is a small island which you can boat ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap February 1st 2019

Lotus are a flower that grows prosperously in Cambodian ponds and are a beautiful scenery addition. The amazing thing about the flower is 100% of it is usable in some process: teas, thread (clothing), fruit, lip balm, paper and on and on and on. The most common use of the lotus is to cut apart the stem and pull the vertical fibers running through it out and make thread out of it. The thread can then be used to produce clothing. It is soft like silk and doesn’t harm animals in the process. However, it is incredibly time consuming. In one day a skilled worker can make 250 meters of thread. However, it takes 12,000 meters of thread to make one jacket (that is 48 days for some quick math). The thread then needs to be ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap January 31st 2019

We had the unique experience of going to a school opening. Trailblazer Foundation has fundraised and constructed 8 schools now. They work with the government to identify where new school are needed (population increases or lack of access) or school rebuilds because buildings are no longer safe. This week there were two school openings both due to dilapidation. It ended up being like a ribbon cutting ceremony. The school provided breakfast bread and water for all the students and the community families. The monks gave a blessing, governement and school officials and large donors gave speeches. The main donor came to the U.S. as an illegal immigrant and now owns a multi-million dollar company. His daughter threatened him to give away his money or she will just buy cats with all her inheritance. So he has ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap January 30th 2019

We had a volunteer tell me a story of how he was brought to tears by a man who was selling books from a cart in front of the restaurant he was eating at. At one point, the gentleman was chatting with a Tuk Tuk driver who helped him open his bottle of soda because the gentleman selling the books had both arms amputated above his elbows. On our opening tour and everything we read about Cambodia it gave a strict warning ”Please do not buy items or give money to children peddling or begging.“ This is because they do not want parents to think their children can be more valuable to the family by being on the street during the day than at school. Our volunteer left me some money to give to the man ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap January 29th 2019

One of the highlights of this trip has been the street food. Whether it was vendor carts in London or goat on a stick in Uganda, every country seems to have some street food creation. Siem Reap has been a street food gold mine of street food opportunity. Here are some basics to help increase your chance of successful dining: It is a good sign if people are eating there, this not only means people enjoy the food, but more importantly it means the food hasn’t been sitting too long Covers, plastic wrap or containers holding the food means the flies probably haven’t had an opportunity to get to it ICE...either food sitting in it or a cooler (if you are eating meat) or no meat sitting out The picture is what Den (our Trailblazer supervisor) ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » North » Siem Reap January 27th 2019

Tonight at yoga we were staggered 3 in the front and 3 in the back. I took a back row spot per my usual. We went into a tree pose (pretty standard you put all your weight on one foot and then the other foot can either go toe to the ground, foot to the calf, foot to the thigh or tucked up into the groin and then hold). I don’t know why but my preferred foot placement is calf and then to close my eyes and see if I can keep from needing to put my foot down. Closed eyes always adds a challenge to the movement because eyesight is one of the main ways we keep balance. However, today, I decided I was going to keep eyes open, focus on a spot and see ... read more




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