Back in town!

Good to be back in Phnom Penh again!
After 4 days in Kompong Thom province, I’m back to my old routine. Indeed I was busy, working through our many end of year reports and proposals, on top of that, there are management and project meetings to attend to. When I got back, I received an email from Canada Fund reqùiring our project to undergo an environmental screening, a process that applicant-organizations should pass before funding applications can be reviewed by the committee for approval. The coordinator was apologetic for the added work (he should be, he’s supposed to fill in the forms and not me!), and for the deadline (which is today), but what can I do? It’s a requirement of the Canadian government and as if I could complain to the coordinator… gee, I have become a slave.*sigh*

I am also waìting in great anticipation to hear from EU. There has been no word yet, but I assume they would call us once a shortlist is made. Once we made the list… I would surely celebrate… in China… Ni hao ma, Shenzhen!! woohoo!!

In other news… here are tidbits of our trip to Kampong Thom.

Kompong Thom is at the halfway point between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Most travelers stop only briefly in this sleepy provincial town with stately colonial architectures scattered along the brown waters of Tonle Sen (River Sen).

Kampong Thom is the largest province in Cambodia in terms of area, consisting of districts, 81 communes and 737 villages and is home to five percent of Cambodia’s total population, and is one of the last provinces to be liberated from the influence of Khmer Rouge. It is also Cambodia’s largest rubber tree growing area.

Tonle Sen views
A five-headed naga statue by the bank of Tonle Sen.
Tonle Sen views
Early in the morning, single paddle-boat passed by as I took this photo.
Tonle Sen views
This is the view to my right.
The quiet roads of Kampong Thom.
Across the road, these two grannies were riding their bicycles quietly.
The quiet roads of Kampong Thom.
A political party sign can be seen to my left, where I'm standing.

Of course, some photos of our meeting venue and the local food that we were after all along, lol!

Take note.
A sign in our guesthouse rooms.
Meeting venue
The commune hall where we had our meeting.
Meeting venue
A sign of cooperation between two countries.
Local food!
Soup chhnang day, or claypot soup. It is delicious and the broth so tasty.
Local food!
These are what goes inside the claypot coup - beef, eggs, various herbs and veggies, noodles, and many others.
Local food!
Who's up for deep-fried spiders? Not me 🙂 Kim Kong, one of my colleagues, popped the fried spider in his mouth like a pop corn.

Sreisaat Discovers Malaysia

This is for my brother (kumusta, Bigg)who wanted to see more pictures than texts in this blog… hehehe. Yes Bigg, your wish has been granted. Ikaw pa, basta ikaw, kurog ko sa imo! 😀

The following are pictures of my trip to Malaysia. First part was the Congress (East Asian Seas Congress) where I presented a paper (ahem!) on environmental education and advocacy in Cambodia and, the second part, which was the fun part, when I traveled with my Thai friend, Anocha, to Pahang State and went jungle trekking in Kenong Rimba National Park. So there, enjoy. Will post some pics of my travels to Bangladesh (not so many good sights there though), Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Sri Lanka later. Pangitaon ko pa ang mga pictures kung diin na. Baw, daw indi ko palakon, no? Tell Momsie and Popsie I will be home soon!!!

I. East Asian Seas Congress, Marriott Hotel, Putrajaya, Malaysia

I and the APFEJ team covering the PEMSEA Congress.
I and the APFEJ team covering the PEMSEA Congress.

The team is composed of journalists from all over the Asia-Pacific region. Standing from left: Yon Thayrun (Indonesia), Lee jong-Myoung (Korea), Ivan Lim (Singapore), Yang Ming Seng(China), Orex Cayaban (PEMSEA Phils) and Tim Yoshida (Japan). Seated from left: Din Thu Hong (Vietnam), moi (representing Cambodia), Elizabeth Roxas (Philippines), Sylvia Inciong (UNIC Phils), Anocha Pichaisiri (Thailand)and Tang Yandong(China).

A question for Cambodian Environment Minister Mok Mareth.
A question for Cambodian Environment Minister Mok Mareth.

Finally with the presentation over, Anocha and I relaxed and seen here playing around. Ivan saw us and took this.


During the conference, I had the opportunity to brush elbows with former Philippine Senator Letty Ramos-Shahani, DENR Secretary Gozum and APFEJ Deputy Chair Elizabeth Roxas, and other big names in Philippine environment sector. I remembered very clearly while I was delivering my presentation Ex-Sen. Shahani was looking and listening closely to me. She was smiling, and sometimes nodding. I was looking at her, nearly getting distracted and feeling so self-conscious. It’s not everyday that I deliver a presentation with none other than the former Philippine senator and other government officials of ASEAN countries in the same room with me. Thankfully my presentation was over with no major eff-ups. I quickly headed towards the girls room feeling queasy, haha. When I came back to the conference hall, the senator was already talking on the stage. She spoke about how women all over Asia are taking on more leading roles towards environmental protection. She also told the crowd how proud she was about how visible Filipino women are in the movement all over the world. She ended her speech by saying, that she’s now ready and happy to retire knowing that there’ll be Filipino women after her who will carry on her work. I was happy. I went to her and we hugged and she gave me a beso-beso. Hay. I feel like I’m doing something productive and important and just grateful for the opportunity to learn from ASEAN’s movers and shakers in environment protection.

The APFEJ Media Team - composed of environmental journalists from SEA.
The APFEJ Media Team – composed of environmental journalists from SEA.

II. Jungle Trekking in Kenong Rimba National Park, Kuala Lipis, Pahang State, Malaysia.

The second part of my first trip to Malaysia was a jungle-trekking adventure in Kenong Rimba in Kuala Lipis with my very good friend, Anocha. We extended our stay in Malaysia for another week after the conference and went to Kuala Lipis, a cosy little town in Pahang State. The town’s main street is narrow and, although it showcases its mix Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures, there were old colonial buildings that remind you of its important past. Walking along the old town is like walking in any small town in the Philippines.

We didn’t waste time so it’s off to the jungle we went first thing in the morning.

My camping gear were all borrowed from Yumiko. If you notice, my pants were tucked inside my socks, which were sprayed with a leech-repellant. I have to say, it was a really beating loud for fear of wild animals ambushing us. Appu assured me that there were none, except for wild elephants. hah. Saw some monkeys, didn’t know which kind though. They’re sat noisily on top of the tall trees.

Entering Kuala Lipis Jungle.
Entering Kuala Lipis Jungle. In front of me was Appu, our guide.

Trekking in the jungle we saw a lot of rubber trees. Malaysia is one of the world’s leading producer of rubber. It seems to be so easy when Appu demonstrated how to tap a rubber tree, but when it was my and Anocha’s turns — totally opposite. We will never make it as rubber tappers. We will stick to office work.

Trying my hand at rubber-tapping.
Trying my hand at rubber-tapping.

We had a stopover at this hanging bridge, took a break and snapped some photos. With me is Appu, our Indian guide who was born and has lived in Kuala Lipis all his life. He also told us stories about his work as a guide. According to Appu, I am the first Filipino to have trekked in Kenong Rimba. I was elated to hear that, hehehe.

One of the many hanging bridges in Kenong Rimba jungle.
One of the many hanging bridges in Kenong Rimba jungle.

Kenong Rimba also had several interesting caves and we explored some of them. Appu gave us flashlights and I’m amazed at some of the formations around the walls and ceilings. In one of the caves there was a shallow streaming flowing. I’ve never done full-caving before and all I can say is that as soon as it gets dark and cold as you go deeper, it gets creepier. I was also beginning to get claustrophobic and was on the verge of a panic attack. (Un)Fortunately, I slipped and fell bum-first in one of the rocks that I ended up with a bruised backside and muddied pants – and that distracted me from my phobia and the impending panic attack!

Before I end, I want to share this picture of our generous hosts in Kuala Lumpur, Chris and Yumiko. Chris is Anocha’s colleague, both are part of the same network. Yumiko, on the other hand, was my colleague in Cambodia. She was a Volunteer Advisor in the local NGO where I work. There’s a funny story how Anocha and I ended up in their apartment (for one week!!!) in Petaling Jaya but that’s reserved for future post. Both also have the same birthdays so we had a celebration for them.

Thank you both for the lovely time in KL. We had a roof over our head and nice, warm beds to sleep after days and days of shopping and wandering at Kuala Lumpur. Yumiko, thanks for the camping gear and for picking me,Anocha and Hong at KLCC. You’re an angel. Please visit Cambodia again.
Chris, thanks for carrying my really HUGE luggage from PJ to KLCC. Would have taken you for breakfast but time is too short. Hope to see you both again.

Water, Sun and Songkran!

Last April 13th, I celebrated the Thai New Year at my friends’ (Keefe and Hiroko) Bangkok apartment. The year here now is 2547, that is 2,547 years since the enlightenment of the Lord Buddha when He reached the state of nirvana.

Songkran is the term for the Thai New Year even in which the sun moves from one zodiac sign into the other. When the sun leaves Pisces to be in Aries the occasion is described as Maha Songkran, or the Grand Songkran. Traditionally, the Thais use this heavenly phenomena to mark the beginning of the New Year. Anyway, what this means now is a big fuss and a one-week holiday for the Thais. For most of them, they use this opportunity to travel to be with their families in the provinces, as many people work in Bangkok but come from the other provinces in Thailand.

While my travel buddy, Bernadette, a friend of mine who is a VSO Volunteer, decided to go up north, to Chiang Mai, I stayed in Bangkok where the New Year is celebrated with a three-day water-fight. As early as 6am to midnight or later, everyone throws water on everyone. I did my best to avoid the dirty canal water as I didn’t fancy dead rats (or the ‘essence’ of dead rats!) thrown on me — a big eeeeeeeeew! It was lots of fun and with it being a big tourist attraction, turns out to be a water-throwing competition between tourists and Thais. People spend all day for three days driving around with a pick-up truck/tuktuk- loads of people with big rubbish bins full of iced water. Thankfully it was very, very hot that day (it averages 40C for three days straight0 that being drenched with water is a big relief.

Everyone is a target during Songkran — you cannot simply stay dry if you are not QUICK enough to escape. You soon learn that if you can’t beat them, might as well join them. But it’s so much fun so why wouldn’t you want to?

All in all, it was a lovely week of water, sun and Songkran… I am now back in Cambodia, shuffling papers in the office.

New Year

It’s been a while since I last wrote, and now it’s 2004! So many things have happened, as usual. Last week of December, or December itself, has been very hectic. The usual radio staff production meetings and out of town interviews, the annual program assessment and planning and the highlight so far, the trip to Malaysia!!

kl twin towers
A visit to the KL Twin Towers and KLCC Mall highlighted my trip to Malaysia.

Can you believe it? Well, I have to.
If I look back at my past 29 years, those were full of uphill battle for finding my place in this corner of the world. Despite this, I feel truly blessed for God has given me a second lease in my professional life. Mlup Baitong has hired me as a full time Coordinator for the Environment and Radio Advocacy Program (ERAP). Isn’t this a reason to be thankful for?

This is Krom Muthieta enjoying the cruise along Koh Kong's mangrove forest.
This is Krom Muthieta enjoying the cruise along Koh Kong’s mangrove forest.

Note: For some weird reason, my earlier entries before this mysteriously disappeared.