Stepping foot on a site that’s well over 1000 years old might be motivation enough, or maybe you want to play out your own scenes from Tomb Raider? Either way the remarkable temples of Angkor have inspired many adventures and Trish Shaw, former Intrepid group leader, never tired of seeing a special sunrise in Cambodia…
“The alarm sounded at 4:30 am, still dark outside, but not cold. No matter how many times my job as an Intrepid leader made me awaken early for this occasion, it never became a chore. This morning we were going out to the breathtaking sight that is Angkor Wat, to watch the sun rise. At 5 am, the entire group was gathered at the bus, and after a quick head count and entrance pass check, we were on our way.
Like so many girls living in rural poverty in Cambodia, Wattana was forced to leave school in grade six to help support the nine people in her family. To make money, she cut wood for a pittance in a nearby forest. Wattana always knew she was capable of much more. So, when she heard that a Plan partner in a nearby town offered restaurant and tourism training, she decided it was precisely the opportunity she needed.
The course provided young people like her with hands-on training in restaurant and housekeeping services, and included office and English skills to help them get jobs in the Sala Bai tourist industry. However, the training involved an intensive, 12-month course away from home, and her mother believed this to be inappropriate, given Wattana’s gender. She thought her daughter should remain in the village like the other girls, cutting wood and getting married and raising children.
Sometimes we have the luxury of planning months in advance and being away for weeks, but then there are times when we suddenly have a few days off work and don’t want to waste them. Dr Peter Bryar found himself in the latter situation, and it wasn’t long before he was headed to Cambodia…
“Last year I had a week to spare and didn’t know what to do. I visited Intrepid Travel in Melbourne and within a half hour was booked to travel to Siem Reap (and the incredible Angkor Wat) through a 3-day Short Break Adventure. My head was spinning the whole time because there was so much to see and experience.
A 5-day eye camp in the Kampong Chen Cheung commune of Stong District, Cambodia, has recently restored sight to over 190 people. Around 500 people lined up to have their eyes checked by an outreach surgical team consisting of an ophthalmologist, a resident and three nurses. Intrepid travellers and The Intrepid Foundation have supported The Fred Hollows Foundation’s Cambodia program over many years, and have helped restore hope and dignity to many Cambodians through the restoration of their sight.
Mr Chhun Chat, the commune chief, said that every year The Fred Hollows Foundation’s eye camp brings hope, smiles and laughter to his villages. “As far as I remember it has been the fifth eye camp conducted in my commune,” he says. “We were waiting for their visit to arrive sooner, so hundreds of people would have the chance to see their loved ones again.”
At the age of 14 I walked the Kokoda Track, an experience that changed my outlook on life forever and ultimately led to me working for a company like Intrepid. Yes, it was physically and mentally challenging, but it was actually meeting the local people and experiencing their way of village life that put things in perspective for me as a teenage girl. Fifteen years on, I had another of these life-altering experiences – I travelled to Cambodia.
The temples of Angkor and their mystical quality is what attracts many travellers to Cambodia. But what Intrepid’s Anya Hodson discovered on her trip to this beautiful kingdom, is that it’s the everyday people of Cambodia who make this country so special…
“During a recent conference trip, our Intrepid group was able to schedule a visit to a local project supported by The Intrepid Foundation. Green Gecko is an organisation in Siem Reap for street kids of all ages. As a place of refuge from life on the streets, Green Gecko is somewhere that children can go to receive shelter and education, but also have fun with other kids.
How do you gauge the value and enjoyment of your holiday? At Intrepid we have ‘passenger feedback ratings’ so you can get an idea of how much previous travellers enjoyed each trip, but recently Yaffa Gould and her group came up with a unique rating system while they feasted their way around Asia, and we think could take off…
“We recently completed Intrepid’s Best of Vietnam & Cambodia – 18 Days. Our Vietnam holiday was wonderful for its scenery, its people and hearing the recent history first hand. Individual area guides shared with us their personal stories: for example at the Killing Fields, our guide, only five years old during Pol Pot’s reign of terror, told of working as a scarecrow in the rice fields for 12 hours a day.
Many of Cambodia’s myths and legends are based on stories about Buddha’s previous lives, therefore some of the country’s most famous folklore have an Indian lineage, as Mikey Leung explains…
“The Reamker is a Cambodian version of an ancient myth called the Ramayana, that originated in India and first made its appearance in Khmer art as early as the 6th century. Like any good myth passed from generation to generation, it has endured through the ages because of its treatment of human experiences universal to us all: those of love, trust, betrayal and forgiveness.
Three million people in and around the Cambodian city of Siem Reap will benefit from a new eye hospital, built with the support of The Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF) and the Australian Government. The Intrepid Foundation is a longtime contributor to the success and development of FHF’s Cambodia Program.
The recently opened Siem Reap Regional Hospital is a three-story facility that will quadruple patient intake and provide treatment for cataract, glaucoma, refraction (the need for glasses) and other eye conditions. The hospital will also be an important training centre for surgeons and eye health workers, teaching them the skills they need to restore sight.