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Our First Two Weeks in Southeast Asia

Written by Kelsey & Emily, 2023 Southeast Asia: Animal Conservation

WEEK 1, Kelsey

The first week in Southeast Asia has been a big one! Long sleeves and long pants are the norm here, even though temperatures reach above 90 degrees. Thank goodness the rainy season also began this week.

There are five women in our group: Emily, Sabrina, Rebecca, Liv, and I (Kelsey). We all come from different places, but we all share a love for animals and animal conservation.

We started our trip off in Bangkok, a city with loads of energy! Our group ferried across the Chao Phraya river, biked the streets, walked the markets, and even had a tuk tuk race out of China town.

Our collective favorite things so far are the people we have met (like Sohka!), the animal friends, the mangos, and learning about the sustainable practices used by the communities in Cambodia. Now, for a nap in the hammocks before our second week of exploring begins

WEEK 2, Emily

Since our last blog entry, we’ve been busy and have had a blast traveling throughout Cambodia! We kicked off week 2 in Banteay Chhmar staying on Sohka farms. Here, we got to work in a rice field and hear from locals about their experience in agriculture and tourism in northwestern Cambodia. On the farm, we also calculated our carbon footprints at home and had a meaningful discussion about what our lifestyles look like and how we can decrease our resource consumption. Finally, we helped turn cow dung to fertilizer which we placed around pineapple plants. This sparked a conversation about the community of farmers helping farmers here. Thank you, Sohka, for an amazing week on your farm. We are so grateful for your passion and support towards us!

After we left Banteay Chhmar, we went to Battambang, where we actually got to meet up with another OG programme for a couple of days! It was so cool to meet other OGers and share our experiences so far in our programmes! We got to take a Tuk Tuk tour around Battambang with an OG partner, DJ, and were amazed. We toured a local circus school, beautiful temples, and even got to see how rice paper and rice wine are made! We also had the opportunity to visit old sites from the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979) in Battambang. This was a solemn but incredibly meaningful opportunity. 

After Battambang, we traveled to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. We were staying in a very comfortable all-vegan hostel and met many other backpackers traveling through the city. Our main focus in this city was to visit the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center (or known as the “Killing Fields”) and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (or known as the S-21 Prison). We were given audio tours of both sites, where we learned about the horrific events of the Khmer Rouge Genocide in Cambodia and paid our respects to the victims of this tragedy. We took time for ourselves before reflecting with the group to discuss what we saw at the museums. It was a very moving and educational day, and we are grateful for the opportunity to respectfully visit these sites and understand the events that occurred only 60 years ago. 

As I am writing this, I am currently in Mondulkiri, a western province of Cambodia! We traveled here by a van from the hustle-bustle of Phnom Penh to the scenic, chill, jungle vibes of Saen Monourom. We are looking forward to going to the Elephant Valley Project tomorrow!! 

what are you waiting for?