This Life Cambodia: Ten years keeping families together

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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.
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Dreams do come true

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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.

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A Life on the Lake

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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.
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Vurchoo Ethical Jewellery

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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.

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Travels in Cambodia – Three days in Mondulkiri

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I was looking forward to our trip to Mondulkiri. I had heard a lot about the forests, the waterfalls and the wildlife – even the thrill of possibly meeting a tiger! We were heading for Sen Monorom, known as the final frontier before the wilderness of forest and rivers stretching beyond the eastern border with Vietnam and the border with Ratanakiri Province to the north. It was in Sen Monorom that we would stock up with supplies for the ranger camp and the final bits and pieces we would need to carry in our own packs.

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Globalstudies – experiencing Responsible Tourism in practice

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My first trip to Cambodia was in 2007 when I came to run a guesthouse a bit outside the charming town of Siem Reap. It was a small guesthouse with a strong focus on Responsible Tourism and I was intrigued by the concept. The management and staff at the guesthouse worked closely with local community projects and hired local staff, drivers and guides. The staff all received plenty of training, had good working conditions, fair salaries and flexible working hours to enable them to continue their education – something of which was organised and sponsored by the guesthouse.

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Joining the Cambodian Circus – a social enterprise in Siem Reap

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I have only been in Cambodia for 3 months but from the beginning I have been continually intrigued and drawn to the amazing businesses, organisations and individuals doing amazing work in the country.

Cambodia has the second largest number of NGOs in the world, coming in only after Rwanda. That’s not even including the many social enterprises and increasingly responsibly minded businesses operating here which are all part of a huge community dedicating their time to growing and improving Cambodia’s future.

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Cambodia – a country of contrasts and smiles

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Siem Reap, Cambodia, has been my home for the past seven years. It is a country of contrasts and smiles. The town is booming thanks to the increase in tourism; tour buses and 4x4s are everywhere. Very different from seven years ago when the only cars were taxis doing the Phnom Penh run or World Food Programme 4x4s. But step back from the main tourist area and visit villages where bicycles and motorbikes are the main form of transport and experience how many Cambodians continue to live a life that has changed little in hundreds of years.

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On the road again

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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.

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A personal take on Cambodian cooking

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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.

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