Responsible Travel in Cambodia

Friendship with Cambodia, a Eugene, an Oregon nonprofit that leads  humanitarian projects in Cambodia, has published a new travel guide - the Responsible Travel Guide to Cambodia (Wild Iris Press/$14.95). This is an organization Tom and I connected with during a trip we took to Cambodia and Laos with Global Exchange in 2004. One of the highlights was spending the night in a rural village with Bhavia Wagner, our tour leader and founder and executive director of Friendship with Cambodia. 

                                             Cambodian village
Bhavia wrote her own book, Soul Survivors, interviews with women and children who survived the Khmer Rouge genocide. It was her dream to do a travel guide filled with suggestions on funnel tourist dollars into projects that are run by or support local people. The writer is Pujita Mayeda, a friend of Bhavia's in Eugene and an experienced world traveler. We spent a fun and informative evening with them and Bhavia's sister, Ellen, at a Seattle book launch gathering at our house the other night. Ellen transformed our dining room into a crafts boutique "stocked'' with beautiful arts and crafts made by people in Cambodia, and brought back by Bhavia on her last trip. 

The new book is excellent, lightweight enough to take along on a trip, and filled with suggestions for finding hotels and restaurants that train disadvantaged youth, shopping at fair-trade craft shops and seeking out volunteer opportunities and eco-tours. If only a book like this existed for all third-world countries.

Book sale profits will go to support the humanitarian projects of Friendship with Cambodia. These include micro-credit programs for women, education for rural students living in poverty, vocational training for landmine survivors, sex-trafficking prevention and support for children living on the streets. Pick it up if you are planning a trip, or even if you aren't. Reading it might peak your interest in this fascinating country! Here's a link to a story I wrote about our village visit. 

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