Cambodia: Beauty Behind the Tourism

Cambodia: Beauty Behind the Tourism

When you think of the beautiful country of Cambodia, you may picture great and ancient temples, such as Angkor Wat and Baksei Chamkrong. You may picture the beautiful and glamorous hotels and city scenes. But, have you ever seen the culture and the history behind the tourism? Through the eyes of a native, you can get a glimpse of everyday Cambodian culture. Tep Sokhom, a young adult from Battambang province, now a resident of Phnom Penh, shares her experience and love for her native country. Life in the Province Before visiting the United States in 2014, Sokhom would travel to work as a card dealer in a casino in the neighboring country of Thailand. She now works as an assistant English teacher in an international school in Phnom Penh. Sokhom takes her red Honda Wave RSX motorcycle, which she calls a “moto,” to work every day. She describes how dirty her mode of transportation is due to the muddy street puddles from the city’s extremely rainy weather. Because of the excess amount of rain, the house that Tep Sokhom was raised in was built on a structure that was lifted off the ground. All of her family members, as part of their nighttime ritual, would climb through their mosquito nets into bed to avoid being bitten during the night. Young Sokhom grew up without a refrigerator in her home. She, along with many other Cambodian families, went to the market every morning to gather the necessary perishable foods for the day. To this day, to preserve cooked meats and other foods for the next day, Sokhom will usually coat...
Adventures in Salzwelten

Adventures in Salzwelten

What happens when you combine a salt mine, an underground lake, and a mummy? No, I’m not talking about a Harry Potter book or an Indiana Jones film; I’m talking about the Hallstatt Salt Mine. There are many ways to interact with history, from textbooks to museums, but these options do not offer quite the same experience as visiting the oldest salt mine in the world, located in Hallstatt, Austria. The town itself is situated between Hallstätter See and the Dachstein Mountains. From the Beinhaus (Bone House) of painted skulls to the charming, late Gothic homes, this little town will make you feel as if you’ve gone back in time. The salt mines continue this feeling of delving into history by giving travelers the opportunity to travel to the past by exploring the old mines and seeing the devices the miners used. The tour begins with an ascent up the mountain on the Salzbergbahn funicular. The glass walls of the funicular allow for a spectacular panoramic view of Hallstatt, as well as the thrill of traveling up a 1,100 foot mountain by rail at an 80% incline. Enjoy the beauty of Hallstatt from a bird’s-eye view before the journey into the caves of salt. After ascending the mountain, the tour will begin with donning a jumpsuit. This helps travelers to keep warm despite the cool temperatures of the mine and allows for a smooth trip down the miners’ slides—the actual slides that miners used to travel through the mines. Further through the mine, travelers will encounter “The Man in Salt.” According to Salzwelten, the company that provides tours of...
Taming Wildlife Tourism

Taming Wildlife Tourism

On a sultry evening in January, wildlife officials in Thailand walked through the doors of one the most popular wildlife tourist attractions in the world, the Tiger Temple, armed with tranquilizers and sedatives. This tiger park run by Buddhist monks was world famous among animal lovers and international travelers because visitors had the rare opportunity to interact with the animals. For a fee, tourists could pet a grown tiger, feeling the short, coarse hair brush against their fingers, and listen to the gentle breathing of one of nature’s most majestic and deadly animals. Other visitors chose to spend their time in the park playing with baby tigers, holding the cubs in the nooks of their arms like a baby while bottle-feeding the newborns their breakfast of milk formula. Tourists came to the temple because they cared and wanted to learn more about tigers in an interactive and close environment. They thought that what they paid for admission was going to help with conservation efforts, or—at the very least—to increase the tigers’ quality of life. They never would have imagined that their money was supporting animal cruelty. For years former volunteers at the temple had expressed concerns regarding the poor treatment of the tigers, and NGOs in the area had long suspected that the temple’s management was breeding and illegally selling its tigers on the black market. When wildlife officials investigated, they were shocked by what they found. When tigers were not chained and on display for tourists, they were locked in cramped, concrete cages where they had little room to walk around. The tigers were being fed chicken instead...
On the Road Again: Ten Road Trip Essentials

On the Road Again: Ten Road Trip Essentials

Road trips are a time to relax, unplug from the tumult of life, and enjoy the company of friends or family. But being in a car for long periods of time can make you miss the comforts of home and the ease of having what you need in any situation. Whether you’re driving for five hours or five days, here are some affordable essentials that you can bring to make the trip more enjoyable. 1. Snacks While it’s tempting to raid the junk food aisle of a gas station, try to pack some healthy snack options such as baby carrots, almonds or peanuts, sugar snap peas, apple slices, or granola bars. These types of foods will give you the energy to stay awake while you’re driving. 2. Water/Drinks You’ll need something to wash the snacks down so bring lots of water, juice, and sports drinks. Staying hydrated is key. It’s also smart to store a gallon or two of water in the trunk just in case of an emergency. 3. Navigation Sometimes it’s okay to take a wrong turn just for the experience. However, if you are not looking to extend the trip an extra few hours, make sure you have something to navigate with. You could use a map, atlas, or GPS app. 4. Sunglasses/Hat Occasionally, the sun hits the car in just the right place so that it’s in your eyes for a few hours. Bring sunglasses and a hat to help you survive the blinding light. 5. Cash It’s always a good idea to have some cash stashed away just in case the car runs out...
Ocracoke: Get Off the Mainland

Ocracoke: Get Off the Mainland

Don’t let the name fool you—this island doesn’t have anything to do with the slimy green vegetable or the quintessential soft drink. Think pirates. Think “hoi toide.” Think undeveloped beaches. Think wild ponies. Think the perfect island getaway. Wild about Wildlife The adventure begins as you travel to the island, which sits off the coast of North Carolina as part of the Outer Banks. The island, which is less than ten square miles, is only accessible by ferry and air. The ferry ride gives visitors their first look at the wildlife of the region. Visitors can’t miss the gulls following the ferry, hoping for a handout, but the unobservant might miss the show sometimes put on by the bottle-nosed dolphins. If the dolphins aren’t in the performing mood, pull out your exotic bird bingo because over 400 species of birds have been spotted on Ocracoke. Not into the ornithology scene? The wild pony herd is a good alternative. The horses are currently cared for by the National Park Service. No one quite knows the history of the Ocracoke horses. The most popular theory is that they are descended from mustangs thrown overboard by Spanish sailors in the sixteenth or seventeenth century. One thing is for sure—there is no horse like an Ocracoke horse. They even have a different number of vertebrae than a typical horse! Teach Me about Pirates Thinking about those Ocracoke horses may get history buffs hungry for more; luckily, Ocracoke is a feast of historical sites. Ever heard of Edward Teach? Probably not. How about Blackbeard the Pirate? Ocracoke was one of Blackbeard’s seasonal hideouts. It’s a perfect...
Travel After Tragedy

Travel After Tragedy

When someone says the name of a famous place, an image floats to the foreground of the mind—a hazy, incomplete portrait of what makes that place important. Washington, D.C., brings to mind various historical sites and patriotic fervor. Tokyo brings to mind bright fashions and neon lights. London brings to mind classic literature and hot tea. Each place has a unique mental flavor, and when travelers leave, they are left with an aftertaste on their metaphorical palette for weeks, or sometimes even months, afterward. However, there are some places that can’t forget the overpowering taste of tragedy. When people hear the name Aurora, Colorado, they think of tear gas and shooting in a movie theater. When people hear about the Boston Marathon, they think of bombs. When they think of Nice, France, they think of the truck that plowed into a crowded street of people celebrating their nationality. Some of these incidents happened more recently than others, but the aftermath branded these towns and their residents forever. These people are survivors. They are fighters. But once the upheaval is over, they are healers and rebuilders, while still being parents and children. Once the post-upheaval crises are dealt with, they return to being bakers and bankers. Recently, there has been a push to change what we call those who have survived tragic events. We call them survivors rather than victims, because they are more than the bad things that have happened to them. People are not limited to their worst experiences; we are complex. Perhaps places should be given the same courtesy. One of the keywords that people think of...