Thursday, August 11, 2011

Unveiling Trapeang Roung

A ferry operator at Chiphat in the late afternoon
I had to miss the official unveiling last week of the new community-based tourism project at Trapeang Roung, in the Cardamom Mountains corridor, next to the successful Chiphat project. Essentially it will be more of the same as its sister operation at Chiphat. By that I mean trekking through remote jungle, rough-and-adventurous mountain biking tours, visits to 500-year-old burial jar sites, swimming at waterfalls, wildlife and bird watching, evening boat rides, and nighttime fishing for river lobsters, amongst the activities on offer. A big player in making it happen has been Wildlife Alliance who began work in Trapeang Roung in 2008 to ensure the conservation of the area and getting the community on board. Before they began, the community had few options other than illegal hunting and slash-and-burn farming that was destroying the rainforest. Tourism offers them an alternative opportunity to work as guides, chefs, and guesthouse operators, earning a sustainable living and preserving the environment around them. It promises to be a more adventurous version than Chiphat, which has proved one of the most popular ecotourism projects in the country.
On the subject of tourism sites in Cambodia, one that is on most visitor's programs when they visit Phnom Penh for the first time is the killing fields site at Choeung Ek, the final resting place of more than 9,000 victims of the Khmer Rouge regime. The private Japanese company that took over the management of the site in 2005 (for the next 30 years) have just announced that from 1 January 2012 the admission fee for foreigners will increase to $6 and will include an audio tour of the center, in various languages, whether you use it or not.

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