The views on this site are completely our own and do not represent VSO. Use the links below to navigate.

25 May 2012

Kayak the River Gambia: Challenge Completed

In March 2007, our friend Shadie died in a car crash in The Gambia. A charity has been set up in his name and in 2009 I took part in a 10km run to raise money for it.  This year, my brother, Grant and Shadie's  brother, Kamil took the fundraising to a whole new level.  They set themselves the challenge of kayaking down the River Gambia.

On the 7th of April, after 9.5 days of travelling (56 hours 55 minutes of paddle time) they completed the 300 mile journey down the River from the border with Sengal down to Banjul, Gambia's capital. They met some hippos and a few crocodiles along the way (nothing they couldn't handle, though it depends who you talk to!) and raised a wopping 20, 570 pounds for Shadie's charity -  We are unbelievably proud of them and this massive achievement. 

Arriving into Banjul (I'm not sure why Grant isn't smiling...)

 Their fan club cheering them in

 Grant, at the finish line enjoying a hard earned and refreshingly cold Julbrew beer

 You can read more about their adventure here and donate to the charity here

24 May 2012

Local Celebrities

On Tuesday, Sam's boss came into his office and asked 'Sam, do you want to be a filmstar?'  Sam considered the question and decided yes, then called me to ask the same thing. It turns out the Ministry of Tourism needed some foreigners to be in a promotional video of Kratie, something that should help with the work Sam is doing with CRDTours in this area. I was extremely excited.  We set off at 9.30am all ready for action and really should have known better. The first hour was spent waiting by the ferry boat for the crew to arrive and all the family members that would be accompanying us on the trip.  And the whole day which we had anticipated would take an hour, ended up taking 6!

We finally set off at 10.30am in what was now pretty unbearably hot weather. There was a lot of sweating going on which will most definitely show up on camara but at least it will look authentic. Come to Cambodia, it's really really hot!!

First we had to walk up to the information office and ask about tours on the island. We were shown a map and then put onto a horse cart that would take us round the island. We had to do about four takes of this before we realised what was expected of us.

All the island locals watching our acting skills

We then did some moving shots with the filmcrew on the back of a moto riding along side the horsecart. This went on for a long time and involved us eating at least two 'kralan' (sticky rice) each while looking very happy about how delicious it was.

This is just before we ate all the sticky rice I'm clutching.

All the family and friends being taken to the homestay house for lunch

Some poor, unsuspecting real tourists had joined us by this point and we all had lunch together at a homestay which was very good.  After lunch was an enforced rest on the beds which had been laid out in the homestay.  Sam actually got a short nap, consistent with his behaviour on holiday last week, and it was all filmed.

We then set off on our bikes to plant a tree to support eco-tourism.

I found this very exciting as it is the third tree that I've planted (only the second time it's been filmed though).

Here is a photo and a clip of me planting a tree in Tower Hamlets with my Year 1 class.

And here I am in Namibia planting a friendship tree as part of our visit

 and now my Cambodian tree

 Sam's tree gets two thumbs up

Guarding our trees

Eco Tourism! Cambodia, Kingdom of Wonder!
(we had to do about six takes for this bit as shouting in unison is harder than you think)

It was an unexpectedly fun day and yet another great experience for us to remember our time in Cambodia.  The video is supposed to take around 2 weeks to make and then will be aired on all the Cambodian channels.  We're going to receive a DVD so will be posting that up as soon as we get it!

23 May 2012

The big trip back home

Me and Sam have been on a bit of a journey this last month visiting England for the first time together. It was also my first time home in 18 months and I have to say there is no feeling like it. I cried when I arrived at Heathrow; I think the excitement and anticipation was too much for me. I wanted to do a big blog post all about how amazing it was to sample all the delights that London has to offer. This mainly revolved around food, friends and family.  However, I'm finding it hard to suitably sum up all that happened in the 4 weeks that we were away. So, instead here some pictures of the highlights.

Here I am enjoying some cakes at a three course cream tea treat!  I'm slightly ashamed to say that I put on a whole stone in those four weeks (that's about 6 kgs). Impressive, I know. 

Being wined and dined with my family in London

Totally worth the crazy journey to Jamaica to spend time with my sister and nieces

I got to meet this little cutie for the first time

On the beach in Gambia

Celebrating being in Gambia together

Me and Sam showing off our brave sides

Sam is looking decidedly more relaxed than me considering he squeals like a baby when he sees a spider!

Though I think my brother and Dad win the prize for still looking cool in your 
shades while holding a snake ....
Sarkis's wedding....the reason we went to Gambia

All dressed up for the wedding
We even made some time to visit the VSO office in Gambia where Sam admired 
their hand-painted sign!

17 May 2012

On holiday with Sam and Birdy



 I think the pictures speak for themselves!