On the eve of embarking on a familiar journey, I am extremely excited to be seeing my friends and colleagues in Penang and Cambodia. It's been 15 months since Gareth and I walked away from our home in Cambodia and I really thought I would have managed to get back there before now....but with the stresses of starting a new business and having a wedding to organise...the time has flown past without even a quick visit.
I am now lucky enough to be combining a trip to Cambodia for work and pleasure, with the opportunity to coordinate an International Conference in Penang on the way. I have long been a Director for Rose Charities Australia and my work with this most valuable philanthropic organisation has brought me twice to Penang to share knowledge, network and enjoy learning about other people's experiences in development. Meeting with a bunch of people from Canada, The UK, America, Australia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Uganda and Afghanistan (to name a few!) who make up the Rose International network and have all been involved in development work somewhere throughout the world, to me, is truly inspirational. This year I'm also lucky to be able to share some of the knowledge I've gained through Khmer Trading and have been asked to give a presentation on "Social Enterprise - An Approach to Sustainable Development". Only slightly nervous about presenting to over 200 people...
Next stop is Phnom Penh where I will be able to spend some quality time talking face to face with our fantastic suppliers, Elisa & Jennifer from Smateria and Nina & Flavien from Tendance Khmere - can't wait to visit their new shops and get some great ideas about innovative product displays. Note to self, must pick up some netting and motorbike seats to show the "before" and "after" effect at the next Trade Fair! I might get lucky and be able to have some of Nina's amazing pork ribs - Nina doubles as a French/Khmer Chef...so much talent!
A quick stop at the Russian Market - a must for any one visiting Phnom Penh's fair streets, maybe a quick stop off at Street 240 for a spot of shopping as well, and maybe a sneaky lycee cocktail at the Foreign Correspondent's Club (FCC) and then I'll be whisked away to my home away from home - Prey Veng. It's been too long since I saw my friends and FDCC family in Prey Veng, I can't wait to see how the kids have grown and how the staff have developed since I left...I know there's been two new babies and a wedding that I've missed and I'm sure a lot more that I don't yet know about. I'll be proudly showing two Rose Charities guests the projects I was involved in while living in Prey Veng, Mekhala House, Mekhala Learning Centre and the Access For All Project. I might even get time to introduce them to the "guoy tieu" (noodle soup) at the "Shouting Man's" Restaurant - an institution in down town Prey Veng.
1. The beautiful Prey Veng at Sunset, 2. Guoy Tieu