14 Jul Backpacking with a Purpose is Just the Beginning
Written by Amanda Martin and Samnang Pak, 2014 Southeast Asia Cities & Sanctuaries.
Ladies and gentlemen we are pleased to announce that everyone made it back to Bangkok for disorientation alive and well. Samnang and I are proud of you!
Nick, Stacey, Dallon, and Kat couldn’t leave Cambodia without a glimpse of the elephants in the jungles of northern Cambodia at the Elephant Valley Project and at least one more dance party with their new friends from Tiny Toones. Rachel, Sacha and Scout made their way to northern Thailand to meet the gentle giants themselves, explore a few more temples, and try their hand at Thai cooking. Miss Independent, Sherly, took off to explore neighboring Vietnam where she encountered the amazing food and wonders of Saigon. Seth, determined to see and do as much as possible, hit up Singapore, Malaysia and tackled the waves of Phuket. He can now call himself a surfer.
The gang all met up in southern Thailand to explore the beauty of Railay! They returned to us exhausted after a grueling bus ride. However, nobody would have traded the hikes to the surreal lagoon, rock climbing, kayaking, and swimming in the crystal blue waters for anything. They loved it!
We wrapped up our time in Bangkok with a bit more street food, a few more drinks, and a lot more shopping at the world’s largest outdoor market in the world!
The last six weeks have flown by. Trying to explain all the adventures and the impact we have had on the region and the region has had on us is not an easy task. We funded a water well and paid skilled locals to build it. We built raised beds and supported an educational centre for local farmers dealing with floods and drought on a yearly basis. We supported art, dance, circuses and a wide array of ethical, social businesses. We brought a group of inspirational leaders from Tiny Toones to the beach to help them reconnect and realign their organizational goals. We explored Cambodia and made connections with the people there in a way few travellers can ever hope to achieve.
We, as volunteers or travellers, often feel as though we come out of these experiences having benefitted more from the experience than our partners. This may be true, but that is okay. We have spent six weeks travelling ethically and giving back to the communities we have built strong relationships with over the years. We have been promoting positive change and supporting people we knew little about on the other side of the world, but whom we now call friends. This is just the beginning of a bigger change.
We have walked away from this experience with more knowledge. Travel and coming closer to something we thought was so foreign, we begin to realize our own misconceptions and come closer to our similarities from a world not so different or distant from our own after all…
Samnang and I have loved travelling with you all! Our home in Phnom Penh is always open to you!
Remember that you have the next 342 days of the year and the rest of your lives to make the changes you want to see in the world. The past six weeks are just an awesome part of that journey.
Have a great summer!
All our love,
Amanda and Samnang
2014 Southeast Asia Cities & Sanctuaries