Add a different dimension to your travel when you are able to make a meaningful contribution to the local community. Giving back is so easy and enables you to travel smarter as you are spending on the “kind” stuff. Visit a charity-operated café, have your nails done at a spa funded by a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) or attend a circus performance produced by the street kids. A good place to start and close to home? The Kingdom of Cambodia, one of the poorest countries in Asia.
After touring the famous Angkor Wat, you will certainly be famished from the climbing and walking. Drop by Marum Restaurant operated by Friends International, a Cambodian NGO, for a lovely lunch. Marum is named after the Moringa, or 'Tree of life', a very appropriate name as the restaurant helps build a new life for the students in training there. Friends International trains marginalized youths who would otherwise have fallen onto the wrong track.
Be entertained in the evening by Phare, the well-known Cambodian Circus, by Phare Performing Social Enterprise. The enterprise provides gainful employment to youths who have learnt a new skill. Kick off with a casual dinner, dine alfresco style at Phare Café, just beside the red big top. As the sun sets, the crowd starts to stream in to catch the circus show. A truly unique circus show, it brings together theatre, story, dance, high-energy music and circus arts.
Do not depart without picking up some handmade souvenirs sold at the boutique, including original works by their local visual artists.
Tired from visiting the historic sites as your legs groan with tiredness? Do not let fatigue stop you from shopping at the markets. Have a nice foot massage. Make a reservation at the massage and nail spa managed by Friends International. Reservations are highly recommended as it is very popular. After your massage, buy some handmade souvenirs made from recycled materials.
Do not forget to drop by for a meal at the restaurant next door, also run by the same NGO. Food and water safety standards are stringent here so eat the raw greens and drink up your fruit juices!
Tips: Stay protected when visiting developing countries due to higher risks e.g. falling ill from diarrhoea. Pack along a medical kit appropriate for your needs. If you need to see a doctor locally, it is great when your insurance policy gives you access to a 24-hour hotline for help.