A Travellerspoint blog

Cycling and Sanitation

I woke up at the crack of dawn once again, so I decided to take a mountain biking tour through the rural towns outside of Phnom Penh before we visited CSARO, the NGO of the day. When I arrived at the bike shop, I was the only client so they gave me my own private adventure. We cycled through three rural villages and took three little ferries.

The first village, the most prevalent of three, was small but had this very quaint pagoda and a small private school. The little kids told me I was the whitest person they have ever seen.

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In the second village, we visited a sweet Cambodian family that walked us through the silk making process. Although Srun and her children didn’t speak any English, we shared a couple of laughs over my attempt to speak Khmer.

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The third village was flooded making the cycling trip a difficult but an entertaining challenge.

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This afternoon, we visited the Community Sanitation and Recycling Organization (CSARO) an NGO the focuses on improving the environment and living conditions of urban poor in Cambodia. Torri, my dumpster diving travel companion, has never been happier in her entire life. I never knew a person could have so many questions to ask about trash!

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CSARO2

CSARO2

For dinner, we went to a restaurant called Friends that was started in 1996 to help get children off the streets. The entire restaurant is run by former street kids. They have several locations throughout southeast asia. Each of the projects focuses on providing direct services to marginalized urban children. Check out their website for more info www.friends-international.org. Plus, the food was phenomenal!

Posted by TripleHearts 03:05 Comments (0)

Triple Hearts Meets Harpswell

This morning I experienced my first jetlag of the trip and woke up at 4am. Exhausted now, I fortunately had energy this morning for our first NGO visit with the Harpswell Foundation. The Harpswell Foundation focuses on empowering the next generation of women leaders in the developing world. They house 84 girls in two dormitories and provide them with the necessary tools to become successful politicians, entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Harpswell

Harpswell

Its incredible how much discipline and determination each of the Harpswell girls possess. Bi-weekly the girls are required to meet and discuss ten articles that each of them has chosen from the newspaper.

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Kit Soklin and Lov Kimsrung are in the 4th year at Harpswell and serve as the vice disciplinary leaders for the residence of the Teuk Thla Harpswell Dormitory. Kit attends two universities where she is studying accounting and tourism. When I asked her what she wants to do after she graduates, she quickly responded “I want to be the Ambassador.”

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Kunt Heathy is in her 4th year at Harpswell. She quickly latched on to me as soon as I arrived to the dormitory. Kunt studies law at the nearby university. I asked her what she does in her free time and she responded “I study!” Kunt asked if we could exchange weekly emails to help her practice her English. I am looking forward to having a new pen pal.

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Post Harpswell, I went with Torri to the rooftop of the Quay Hotel for happy hour and a stunning sunset.

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Posted by TripleHearts 02:44 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

TedX Phnom Penh

Sorry for the lapse of time since my departure and my first post. This is the first time I have sat down since my arrival. Let me bring you up to speed.

To start the flight was an absolute breeze. Thanks to red wine and unisom the 16 hours passed by quicker than a game of hopscotch.
Upon my arrival in Phnom Penh, I went straight from the airport in Phnom Penh to the TedX rehersal. Allie my friend and host in Cambodia was the main organizer of the event. The theme for the conference was ‘work/play’ and consisted of a pretty stellar lineup: Lisa Mam, the first female graffiti artist in cambodia; Soluy Loeut, a 20 year old female boxing champion/soldier/photojournalist; Andy Hawkings, an interactive musician and songwriter; a Cambodian coffee entrepreneur and Kosal Khiev, a Cambodian native X -US convict turned poet.

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TedxSimulcast

Tedx Lisa Maam Peap Tarr

Tedx Lisa Maam Peap Tarr

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Tedx Emily Cohen

Tedx Emily Cohen

Each were inspiring in there own way but I found Andy and Kosal’s talks to be most impressionable. Andy, a UK native, moved to Phnom Penh two years ago to introduce an interactive musical teaching style to Cambodian children. Andy teaches music through collaborative audience participation. TedX was the first time he taught to adults. To no surprise, it was a huge success.

Tedx Andy Hawkings

Tedx Andy Hawkings

Born in a Thai refugee camp, Kosal’s family fled to the U.S in 1981. At the age of 16, Kosal was arrested in a gang fight and charged with attempted murder. It was during his 4 years of solitary confinement of his 16 year imprisonment where he began writing and singing poetry. Spoken word became his creative channel to tell his own story and transform his anger, regrets, and experiences into a poetic art form. Upon his release in 2009, Kosal was forced out of the states and came to Cambodia. Now Kosal is dedicated to sharing his story of how spoken word redefined his life and has given him hope for a better future.

Tedx Kosal Khiev

Tedx Kosal Khiev

There is something incredibly special about the Cambodian culture and the people that it attracts. Everyone here has a story; a story that you not only want to listen to but want to retell.

Posted by TripleHearts 02:10 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

New Friends/Cambodian Markets

Today I walked the streets and tackled the markets with Torri and Jose. Jose was born in Cuba and moved to Chicago to work as a photographer for the Chicago Tribune and raise his family. Torri his 23 year old daughter lives in Bloomington, Illinois as a freegan, a glorified term for a dumpster diver. After writing her college thesis on the social interaction of freegans, for the past two years Torri has spends three hours every Sunday evening collecting food for the week with her fellow freegans. Although on the surface one would think that I have nothing in common with Jose and Torri, we formed a unique bond in the dead heat of the Cambodian markets. I have never been so uncomfortably hot in my entire life. It was the kinda heat that makes you feel constantly dirty, even makes you itchy. Lost in the maze of knockoff Northface backpacks and Cambodian silks Torri, Jose and I became close travel companions. Although, we were all ecstatic to find the exit and return to Allie’s air conditioned apartment for a cold shower.

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For sunset, I went with a couple of people that I met at the Ted conference on a boat ride to this little fishermen’s little village that has this amazing little bungalow bar right off the water. Over a bottle of wine and an antipasto dish, we watched a spectacular fuchsia colored lightning storm. It was one of those moments where everything was perfect…

Bungalow Bar

Bungalow Bar

The Street of Phnom Penh

The Street of Phnom Penh

Posted by TripleHearts 17:02 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Triple Hearts Pre-Cambodia

First Friday - 5 days before my trip

Its Friday, October 7th. Or what we refer to in Venice as "First Friday." On the first Friday of every month, shops, galleries, live-music, restaurants and crowds unite on Abbot Kinney bringing people together in a unique and lively setting.

I contemplated tackling the streets with some friends but for one reason or another I felt compelled to stay in. I started thinking about the concept of first Friday; and further thinking about the concept of first. We, as humans, get so wound up about things being the first. This trip being many firsts for me, I am so excited that I wanted to share the experience with all of you! Stay tuned. And…get excited.

T minus 5 days….

Posted by TripleHearts 21:38 Archived in USA Tagged first Comments (0)

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