Emily Willaert


Emily Willaert

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Ko Yao February 25th 2019

We returned to our “favorite island beach” today. I made the initial goal to see how many straws I could find that had been washed up by previous high tides and random litter and planned on making a little sand castle display. However, as things started to unfold I saw that I had inadvertantly created 5 towers in the shape of a di five. Much resembling Angkor Wat. Well, now that I had a picture the creation needed to be made. Out of blue bottle caps, blue plastics and blue flip flops came the moat. From single use plastic spoons came the wall for the city. Cue tips and white straws created sections within the city. Roads were bottle caps and cigarette lighters and of course the towers are plastic straws. Some people visiting the beach ... read more

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Ko Yao February 20th 2019

For the next week I am floating in the sea Off an island In Thailand... Thinking about wrapping up this jaunt and preparing to come home.... read more

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Pai February 15th 2019

We decided to give our hiking boots one more outing before packing them up and trading them in for flipflops. The venture was Mae Len Waterfall and based on our research could be anywhere from just under a 4 hour hike to a 6 hour hike. We started off strong, parking our bikes at a hostel because no one could tell us if there was somewhere closer to park...there was (add 40 minutes to the hike). The hike itself was the right balance of entertaining, flat and challenging as the trail wove across the river about 20 times out and then 20 times back. No point was the river too deep or fast moving now that it is dry season so it was fun to play don’t fall in the lava as we hopped rocks and ... read more

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand February 14th 2019

Pai is known for the 700+ turns and steep mountain climbs and descents it takes to reach the small city. It used to be an escape and the recommended location for exposure to the beauty of Thailand nature and culture and avoid mass tourists crowds. In steps Google and Trip Advisor and the secret is out. It still has a small town feel and is surrounded by mountain view points, waterfalls and other outdoor activities, but it is also swarming with tourists as multiple minibus companies bring a van load of people every hour of every day. A common recommendation is to rent a scooter and take the 3 hour journey on your own. However, with my at best mediocre skill set we decided to minivan it to Pai and then venture out from there after ... read more

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Chiang Mai February 12th 2019

Thailand is known for its elephants and after Shelby went on an elepant craze in Cambodia (elephant pants, elephant shirts, elephant paintings, elephants, elephants, elephants), it only seemed right that we spend a day interacting with elephants. In Chiang Mai, it turns out elephants are in large supply and many companies provide ample tours. Our hostel owner Som informed us that most of the parks in the north of Thailand are very good and reputatable. They don’t allow riding on the elephants, they have handlers who work specifically with an elephant to ensure they understand basic commands (eat, good, stop, back, etc.) to provide a safe environment for tourists, and mostly they roam free. This is not the case in all places in Thailand or around the world so do your research first. Most elephants who ... read more

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 » South » Phnom Penh February 6th 2019

We traveled by overnight bus to Phnom Pehn. It is pretty common for us to select overnight travel, you don’t miss a day of moving and seeing, you don’t add overnight expenses for lodging and typically the fares are cheaper. What I wasn’t expecting was for the entire bus to be bed cots instead of seats. One side of the isle was single bunk beds and the other side of the isle had two separate cots next to each other with bunk beds. Never have I been so happy to be traveling with a friend than tonight! We arrived in Phnom Pehn and caught a bus to Kampot and made it out to our hostel. Again what the hostel photos didn’t show was the domitories were not only in the house but also in 2 shipping ... 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

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