Just over ten years ago, we first met Billy Gorter, Founder and Executive Director of This Life Cambodia (TLC) in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We still remember his excitement and enthusiasm when he first told us about how he was approached by members of a community just outside the centre of Siem Reap who had big dreams of starting a community centre in their village.
For the past ten years, the team at Soria Moria Boutique Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia, have been welcoming guests from all over the world. Whether it’s staying guests, local project partners or the wonderful members of staff, people have always been at the heart of Soria Moria’s business model.
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.
This November sees a range of anniversaries and celebrations within the fields of responsible travel and tourism. World Travel Market in London will mark 20 years of Responsible Tourism and celebrate 10 years of World Responsible Tourism Day since the start in 2006.
I held fond memories of my travels through South East Asia. The grind of city living and 9-5 was taking it’s toll on my natural state of wanderlust. I wanted to explore, adventure, learn – and throw myself in the deep end of a wild experience. My teenage dream to live and work in a developing country was still in the forefront of my mind. As a strong willed young woman, I knew I would see my dream into fruition – I just hadn’t worked out how to yet.
Flat on my back, I lay there, in the darkness, looking up on what reminded me of a bridal veil just about a meter above my head. It was slightly lit up by the bright light bulb on the outside. Bugs were dancing in the beam of light. Dogs were barking in the distance. A noisy motor boat was passing by, and seconds later the small, rapid waves hit the platform. I could hear the wings of insects that were swirling around. My nose was filled by the smell of my own sweat and mosquito repellent.
For the third consecutive year, Mekong Experiences and HOPE will join the annual Dragon Boat Racing at Bewl Water. Previous years have provided some amazing displays of paddle power, fun and excitement, with both the actual dragon boat racing and fundraising efforts exceeding expectations. This would not have happened without fantastic support and efforts from the enthusiastic Dragon Boat Team and their friends and families. More than £3,500 has been raised from the dragon boat racing to support local community projects in Cambodia and we envisage another great day out at Bewl Water this year.
In 2009 I found myself being made redundant twice in the course of six months due to the recession in the UK. Taking what little savings I had, I hopped on a plane and started working my way around the world, working and volunteering as I went along. I was lucky enough to visit New Zealand, Australia, Japan, before landing in South East Asia. After travelling by road through Vietnam, I found myself in the beauty of Cambodia, and I fell in love with the people and the country instantly.
Following last year’s success, Mekong Experiences was yet again the main team sponsor for Harnessing Opportunities through Play and Education’s Dragon Boat Racing Team in their 2015 fun(d)raiser at Bewl Water in Kent.
Developing countries have got the highest per capita milk consumption, and over the next few months Norwegian consumers will have a great opportunity to learn more about social projects around the world as Q Meieriene and Kavlifondet feature a series of projects their customers support when buying ‘Q melk’ in Norway.