It’s been 3 years since I was last here in Siem Reap and I was expecting more tourists, more hotels and restaurants, but what I wasn’t expecting to see were less bicycles. There does seem an ever larger circle of expats, who are cycling but anything with an engine is by far the most preferred mode of transport.
It’s January 2006, two backpackers who met working at one of London’s finest hotels, are on the road again after experiencing the poverty on the streets of Phnom Penh, the harrowing stories of Toul Sleng and the haunting recollections of the Killing Fields. The bus driver, who sits behind a broken windscreen, drives recklessly along the long winding Route 6 bumping pot hole after pot hole to Siem Reap.
Showcasing Khmer cooking delights is hard, but I’ll try…
First off, I would say Fish Amok served in banana leaves is the most traditional and popular dish to be found throughout the country. It’s an easy dish to make providing you have the right ingredients: white fish (I don’t think it really matters which one), fish sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, coconut milk, lemon grass, nhor leaves, galangal, turmeric, garlic, shallots and, of course, chillies! Although not really a spicy dish, it’s a creamy mix which mixed altogether and steamed tastes fantastic.
WTM World Responsible Tourism Day is a global day of action, encouraging to help drive change by educating more responsible behaviour with the travel and tourism industry and travelling public.
An eerie haze rises above the trees as dawn breaks over Anlong Veng. This small market town slowly awakes as iron gates are gradually pulled back and the day’s stock revealed. Children rush to school all the while older ladies take their daily pilgrimage to the market. 24 hours had passed since leaving Siem Reap.
Cambodian Volunteer Tourism
‘Voluntourism’ has sprung into action over the last few years and Cambodia is no exception. Siem Reap in particular is host to a number of trendy volunteer hang-outs which have blossomed alongside the growth of volunteer experiences on offer. The term ‘voluntourism’ is a clever play on words that has both positive and negative connotations. Some love the concept that whilst on holiday you can offer some time to give something back to the communities you are visiting. Others, however, recoil in its distaste that volunteers should pay for giving up their time and expertise to help those in need.
Over the last decade Cambodia has seen a rapid and steady rise in tourism which by many Cambodians is viewed as the golden ticket to improve life chances and, thus, flock to tourism hubs leaving their work on farms and large families behind. The country still remains one of the lesser developed countries in the world in terms of economy, access to food, education, health and medical services. Stark poverty is evident throughout the country and the gateway to the temples and main tourist hub of Siem Reap is no exception.
In my experience, many hoteliers do it simply because they want to do it, and being a responsible hotelier also seems to make good business sense. If people are passionate about something, then it shows in everything they do and makes for an all round great stay – and you can even make a positive difference to the local communities where you travel too.
Bleep bleep bleep the alarm goes at 4am on Saturday the 5th December 2009!!
Noting the darkness, I grumble at the bleeping that has awakened me. Slowly I remembered why I had set the alarm clock soooo early. I was getting up to see Angkor Wat at dawn, a task done by many visitors to Siem Reap every day, however, this morning was different! The first weekend of December hails the popular Angkor marathon and bike ride which brings many tourists to experience the temples in a different way. And this year I, along with Sangkheum Center’s Young Adults and Educators were participating.
Not long to go till Thomas, Bota and I with 18 other educators and young adults from Sangkheum Center for Children will be on our bikes cycling through the temples of Angkor in Cambodia. We have been heavily fundraising on behalf of the kids to raise money for their own future and so far we have raised $1,393.00 online!! Which is just fantastic!!