After our brief yet amazing time in Phnom Penh, we began our 3 hour journey. Jammed into one van with our belongings, we met up with our good friend Sela, who speaks great English, and his family. We arrived at VitaminAir!
Upon our arrival, we were greeted with the peace of nature, complimented by the soft sounds of birds playing in the nearby trees. We were able to just submerge ourselves in the beautiful land they have preserved and nurtured over the years. We were also greeted by good friend and chef, Saluy, who prepared some of the best food we’ve had so far! He – and sometimes his fiancé – were quick to provide us the best meals and met all of our dietary restrictions/needs. We were all very grateful to have him as our chef for our time there.
We were spoiled and had a great time trekking through nature (that is much different from home), going for a swim at a nearby waterfall, and ending our days bonding over a bonfire and stargazing. The stars appear in a sky free from the all the pollution produced from cities. We also got to speak with an amazing author and entrepreneur, Thavry Thon, who explained their perspective growing up in Cambodia as a woman, challenging the expectations and norms of her culture. Her story has inspired many people to follow their dreams- no matter the expectations your society or culture tries to impose on you. She is a pillar for female empowerment in Cambodia and around the world.
As our time came to an end at VitaminAir, we savored one last good meal of crepes and said our goodbyes. We set off on another 2-hour drive to Kampot to meet up with our friends, Annie and Sal.
When we got there, we instantly started to miss Saluy’s cooking, but were still happy to be in a new space and finally learning more about the mangroves and the mission for the Mangrove Conservation Project. As we settled into our bungalows, we were given the option to go for a swim at a nearby dock, about a 15-minute boat ride from our accommodation. We had a really good time having mud fights and smearing mud over our faces as the sunset over the ocean.
During our stay, we learned to identify mangrove seedlings and how to determine which ones are ready to be harvested. We also got to spend some time in the city, where we ate food at a noodles and dumpling restaurant. We celebrated the life of our dearest Hayden, and sang happy birthday before we proceeded to share a coconut flavored cake. We didn’t leave any leftovers unfortunately.
After spending a little bit of time roaming the city amongst ourselves, we did some standup paddle-boarding with Annie and Sal. It was a first time for a lot of us, some were even conquering their fears of being in water. Overall, it just made the experience that much more memorable for all us. As we began to wrap our time in Kampot, we reflected on the impact our stay had on the Mangrove Conservation Project. We were excited to learn that we successfully harvested 492 mangrove seedlings and planted 132 baby mangrove trees in the span of the 3 days we were there!
We had a really great time here in Cambodia, but we will continue our journey endeavors over in Thailand. Thank you so much to the people but Cambodia for allowing us to see it’s beauty.