Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The hiatus is over – time to start blogging again on travel and international cuisine, with a dash of book talk and something new: HOPE! Sometimes the ugliness in our world seems hopeless, but when determined people come together in love to help their fellow humans, miracles happen. So let’s start with Cambodia: the good, the bad…and the HOPE.

First, the good. Breathtaking beaches, temple ruins, lush jungles, fascinating wildlife, and cuisine bursting with flavor. Located in the southern portion of the Indochina peninsula, Cambodia provides an unforgettable travel experience. Visit Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, the largest religious monument in the world. It’s a great place to see the sunrise, but get there by 5:30 a.m. and expect a crowd. Dating back to the 11th century, Angkor Wat is now considered one of the Wonders f the World. Another temple in the area is Angkor Thom, with its entrance bridge flanked by 54 stone warriors. While in Siem Reap, try a meal at the New Hope Restaurant. Run by the former chef of a five-star hotel, this place serves as a trade school for those rescued from human trafficking. Love the beach?  Check out Koh Rong on the Gulf of Thailand for endless stretches of white sand, palms trees and turquoise waters.  Snorkelers will see an abundance of colorful marine creatures. For an otherworldly experience, visit Long Set Beach, also on Koh Rong, where you can swim at night amidst the phosphorescent glow of plankton.

Stunningly beautiful, Cambodia is still dealing with the aftermath of infamous former dictator, Pol Pot, whose communist regime destroyed more than a quarter of the population. Abject poverty is prolific here, as is disease, starvation and human trafficking. Enter Kone Kmeng, an organization started by a pastor who knew the miracle his country needed had to start with the children. So, long story short, Kone Kmeng equips churches with resources to educate kids and launch small businesses through micro loans and training. One of the most popular home-based businesses is FROG FARMS!  Frogs are cheap and multiply quickly. Families can eat what they need and sell the rest, which provides money for basic needs and school. For kids, an education lowers the risk of being trafficked, and greatly increases the chance of a brighter future.