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31 Mar 2011

Floating Down the Mekong

Photo by Zac

Last Thursday saw members of CRDT staff, tourists, VSO volunteers and a police escort float along a 20km stretch of the Mekong that would be devastated if a planned programme of dam building in Laos and Cambodia goes ahead.  The event was organised to coincide with a meeting of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) who hold the power to approve the damming plans, in particular the first of many in Xayaburi in Laos.  There was some coverage of the event before and afterwards in the Phnom Penh Post, one of Cambodia's two English language dailies.

The result of the meeting was to postpone the decision until late April when the MRC participant countries (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam) must reach a final verdict on the dam at Xayaburi.  The outcome of this meeting clearly hangs in the balance as consensus could not be reached last week.

Because of their experience with damming and it's impact on salination and unpredictable rises in water levels downstream, it is believed that Vietnam are opposed to further damming of the Mekong.  Thailand is thought to be in favour of the dam at Xayaburi as it is largely Thai investment being used to build it and Thailand will receive most of the electricity produced.  Laos don't have a powerful voice at the discussions of the MRC and so many believe that Cambodia could hold the crucial deciding vote.  It is still to be found out whether the influence of either of its more powerful neighbours will swing Cambodia's vote or if the decision will be taken on the grounds of what is best for Cambodia's people who rely so heavily on the river for fish and soil nutrients carried by its waters.

If you are interested in finding out more about the issues then some good resources are available here and there is a petition against the dams here.

20 Mar 2011

Holidays and Hands

It seems like quite a long time since I've written a post so there must be quite a lot to catch up on. I did finally make it back to Cambodia and spent a lovely 2 weeks being spoilt by my parents. It was a slightly different holiday than they were expecting as I was still quite ill and spent a lot of time sleeping, being depressed and moody and complaining about feeling sick all day. However as they love me, they didn't complain and by week 2 I was more or less back to my normal self. I spent quite a lot of time at the hotel as I didn't want to move around too much. Luckily, the hotel was amazing! After a brief visit to Kratie we headed to Kep in the south of Cambodia and stayed there doing little day trips to nearby sights. Here's a description of our holiday in photos.

At our favourite noodle lady's restaurant on the river in Kratie.

On Day 1 I got bitten by ants (we think) while I was sleeping.

This was the result!!!

Everyone in Cambodia is very sympathetic about my current situation and I never manage to get very far without concerned tuk tuk drivers or old ladies asking me what happened and then describing their own injuries in great detail in Kmai! The conclusion is always the same: apparently I should have gone to a traditional Kmai doctor and wouldn't be having all these problems. Obviously my eye situation didn't help and I looked like I'd recently recovered from a horrific accident.

The Pool....which I managed to swim in while holding my hand out of the water (see picture below).

In the sea...(it was actually very shallow and I'm basically sitting down!)

The view from the restaurant of our hotel.

Exploring some caves....

On the way to Rabbit Island.

Rabbit Island

My Dad's lunch!

Kep beach

Our tuk tuk driver soon realised about my Dad's obsession with animals and was soon stopping in the best places so my dad could take pictures.

Kampot salt being made.... Kampot is famous for salt and pepper

The biggest gecko in the world and it was in my room!!!!!!

My parents' last night. A French restaurant in Phnom Penh and the best steak, chips and red wine me and Sam have ever tasted (well in 7 months at least).

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for ........
I have just been to Bangkok for a check up which did not go all that well as 4 out of the 6 pins were infected so had to be removed early which was fairly unpleasent. I'm back on antibiotics and am not sure what happens next so will fill you in another time. But I do now have pictures. They're pretty disgusting so get ready!

4 Mar 2011

TEDxPhnomPenh Videos

Phloeun Prim - Transformation of a Nation Through the Arts

The videos of all the talks and performances from last month's TEDxPhnomPenh event are now up on Youtube here.

More good news is that a second event is now being planned.  Great stuff, worth watching a few of the videos, the one above being one of my personal favourites.