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Rainbow Lodge is in a stunningly beautiful part of the Cardamom Mountains, South west of Cambodia. The Lodge is completely off grid, you can only reach it by boat. Solar power supplies the energy, rainwater collected from a stream supplies the bathrooms and kitchen. We adopt a reduce, reuse and recycle policy wherever possible.

 

The links here with the local community are strong. In the past the Lodge has contributed through fundraising to supply solar power, a new play area, bookshelves and books, computers and computer lessons, teacher’s wages, painting and sports equipment for the school. The local community has had a bridge built and there are now regular litter collections and signs up encouraging a cleaner commune. Our short term plans are to build a much needed toilet block with sustainable water supply to it. Our long term plans are to work closely with the community committee and other businesses in the area to see what improvements we can all make together.

 

The intimate Rainbow Lodge offers 7 self contained bungalows with all your needs catered for. 3 doubles, 3 twins and a family unit. All are en-suite with private balconies.

At the Lodge we positively promote by action a local and sustainable ethos. Food is brought daily from the local market to ensure freshness and local business sustainability. From the kitchen to the cleaning we buy organic and ethical products wherever possible.

 

All our staff are from rural Cambodia. We pay a way above average salary and provide all meals and accommodation. Training and skills building are high on our agenda. We aim not just for responsible tourism but responsible management too. We work closely with Wildlife Alliance and are happy to have their support and encouragement.

 

This may all sound well and good but is it inspiring?

 

Just getting to the inspirational bit…. Rainbow Lodge is owned and was set up by Janet Newman who prior to Rainbow Lodge had been a Criminal Barrister in the UK. She spent 15 years prosecuting and defending Criminals. Janet took a much needed break 7 years ago and spent 10 weeks in the jungles of Madagascar collecting data of flora and fauna. The experience touched her. The flight back to the UK and she was questioning her chosen career path. One year later and Janet had booked herself some voluntary work in Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor National Park, Cambodia. She spent another 10 weeks out of the concrete jungle and in the real jungle. The experience did more than touch her this time, it slapped her around the face and as she boarded the flight back to England and a life of court rooms she made the decision to come back and set something up.

 

1 year later and 5 years ago Janet came back to Cambodia. She did not speak Khmer, she had never built anything before and she had never worked in hospitality. Over a short period she set up a business, bought land, built Rainbow Lodge, made links with the community, employed local people and lived a realization that one person can make a difference and can do what they set their minds to. That is what we call inspirational….

 

So, who are we?

 

The story continues with four very skilled and highly motivated individuals who have been given the management of Rainbow Lodge. The new team have been in place since the 1st July 2012.  Introductions are in order:

 

Simon was born and grew up in Kenya; he has a degree in Development Studies and Construction Management. He is also trained in massage and reflexology and has a very keen interest in sport and doing things right. Simon spent the last ten years managing a youth provision in Swansea, Wales. Simon is the Lodge’s maintenance and holistic treatment manager as well as having an input into the community projects. He also recently proposed to Amy, she of cause said yes.

 

Amy is from a beautiful countryside village in South Wales. She grew up on a farm and spent much time learning and appreciating all things natural. Amy has worked in the face to face with customers industry her whole working life. Amy has a degree in Graphic Design and worked for many years in this field. She has a passion for art and photography. Amy will be soon be developing the onsite activities. She is the marketing and bookings manager at the Lodge.

 

Lois also hails from Wales and has a background of providing high standard and very safe adventure activities to a varied range of individuals and groups. She has lead a number of expeditions to Africa and South America. She has numerous qualifications in the outdoors from Climbing and Kayaking instructor to wilderness first aid and Mountain leader, not to mention a Masters in the therapeutic use of play. Lois is the Lodge’s Adventure Activities and Community Manager. She recently proposed to Neil, he would have been a fool to decline.

 

Neil was also born in Kenya and is Simon’s brother and Lois fiancée. Neil has travelled extensively and has worked in many countries. He taught sailing in France, Greece and Turkey and managed chalets in France and Austria. Neil has spent much time in kitchens during his travels. He has a real interest in food, food hygiene and food combinations. He loves the outdoors and completed a course in Bush craft.  Neil spent the last eight years working with a tenancy support unit for a homeless charity in Swansea Wales. Neil is the Lodges Kitchen and Bar Manager.

 

The four of us are taking the pioneering spirit and vision of Janet to the next level, Injecting fresh ideas into a worthy formula. Each day brings new challenges that we are finding creative solutions to overcome. It seems to be working; the comments and feedback have been great. Check out our website and join us on Facebook.

 

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Rant . . . ish

Posted: May 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


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I’m in a very privileged position and standing to relay some world truths and possible solutions with personal examples. The world tolerates a truly unfair state of affairs. ‘We are the 99%’ . . . The tipping point can only occur if we band in numbers. People that believe in fairness, in equality and in compassion should stop shying away from their calling and let the world know they believe in ‘us’. Us, a nation, a county, a continent, a planet and a quantum identity. Quantum science is just the science of possibility. With enough minds positivity concentrating on being fairer, equal and compassionate….. We can change anything.

I know this seems much like rants I’m sure you have heard me spout in a drunken moment before, but I believe it and think it’s worth ranting about. People who have lived unsettled and unsupported lives have been subject to the most horrendous actions by the same governments and companies that will stand up and say they are for these people. How do these fuckers sleep at night.. (Very comfortable in water beds with Egyptian cotton sheets and silk covers no doubt)

Youth around the world and indeed the Arab spring illustrates it well, are saying ‘what about my future?’ ‘When am I going to get some?’….

Questions they should be given answers too instead of greedy crony capitalists eating not just all the pie but all the food on the table and still demanding more, more and no need greed more.

Your belly is full and the lard is dripping from your fat chin… let others have some crumbs you self involved bastard.

Off with their heads I would cry if we could find a guillotine big enough to fit their fat necks into..

What is my contribution to life? Apart from amusing you with my obvious comical input. I believe helping the less privileged in our world to help themselves.

Sustainable project on a grass roots level involvement, is the path I’m advocating. I’m beckoning the 7 followers I have on my blog to band together and shout from your roof tops ‘I want change… positive, life affirming change for those who don’t have roofs to shout from and even if they did…. Who would listen?

So, after another cheery blog, I leave you with this. . . . One world, one people, one love, one time…..

 

Noise….. I want to let you know about noise. There was some research done a few years ago that was studying the resilience of different cultures to the acceptance of noise. In 3rd place with little patience to noise are the outspoken Europeans. In 2nd place with an ear for noise are our African brothers and sisters. In 1st place with incredible tolerance for it, Asians. I have rarely had reason to complain about noise (probably due to causing a lot of it over the years)  but my goodness, these guys can make a din. Weddings can go on for 4 days, speakers are erected which blaze out somewhat hypnotic beats and singing from four in the morning to midnight.  Funerals music is some what more sombre but no less loud, these can go on for longer. Karaoke.. sorry, ‘KA RA OKE’ is the national pastime and everyone one has a go. Karaoke may be a law unto it’s own as they seem to be able to play when and where they want, with volume  set to max. If a new product is being launched or if there is a special offer, a boombastic speaker stack with bad boy amps will be set up in the street to let you lucky customers know they are in business. Just as the bar/nightclub next door starts to turn down it’s tunes at 6.30am, a baby starts to scream and Cambodia is awake and on it. There seems to be a real aversion to silence. I was wondering if this is a symptom of social post traumatic disorder. The need for noise to drowned out the thoughts. I’m just speculating mind.

That baby I mentioned starts crying at the same time every morning and again at the same time in the afternoon. Mum says it could be cupping or coining. For those of you in the dark, both are a form of traditional medical treatment. The process for cupping is to heat the air in a glass then place it on the skin and as it cools it creates a vacuum and hence a suction, many glasses are placed on the skin. The idea is to stimulate blood circulation. Coining is a little more based in the superstitious. A coin is rubbed on the skin till it’s red and most probably painful. Both leave very visible marks. This could explain the regular baby call.

I thought this may all be just because we’re in a capital city…. think again, the rural province folk here can make there fair share of babble too.We have been combating it with a combination of gin, drugs and earplugs. A realize this is a little out of left field but needs must. A small annoyance  that will not hold us back from making ourselves heard. . . . .

I need to let you know about something very funny. Dad had had a final reminder to pay the telephone and internet bill last Friday, not that he defaults on bill payments often. Just that he was so busy that this small inconvenience was not high on his priority list.  The letter that arrived Friday morning went a little like this… Dear Mr Wilkinson, please pay $x by Monday or we may cut you off, (Now here’s the interesting bit) if you pay your bill on Fridays between the hours of 4.30pm and 6pm you can have as much free beer as you can drink !! . . . okay, they did not put the exclamation marks in but I have for affect. Dad duly responded by heading down to Online to cough up the green back and have a cold larger or three. He sat around with their members of staff  chuckling and unwinding from the week. They advised he return next Friday for a cold one. I’m going along to ‘inquire’ about …. I don’t know, something.

Only in Cambodia ay…….

I’ll check back in with you lovely folk in the not too distant future.

stay well                    x x x

Well, Happy Lucky Golden Special Chinese New Year to you all. The year of the dragon starts today, my Chinese lunar sign no less. Well, it feels like an age since I posted last. So much to tell, so much has happened. Si and Amy have been looking around the south and have been finding their feet and acclimatizing to the culture and climate. They both seem to be settling in very well. We had a wonderful Christmas and New Year together. Every Christmas eve mum and dad invite anyone that has not gone home or away  for the festive season round to the house for a massive blow out of food, drink, carol singing, laughing and general merriment. There were some interesting folk here and the mulled wine and table full of food went down a treat.

Although there was too much………, over the next 5 days we slowly but surely worked our way through turkey sandwiches, turkey curry, turkey risotto, turkey soup, turkey stew and some good ‘ol plain turkey on it’s own. Our Cambodian companions noted on the night that ‘Those are some mighty big chickens’ … I agree.

We headed down to the coast for the new year and had a barrel of booze and a bundle of laughs. It was great spending time with the family, catching up, getting to know one another, exploring and generally enjoying life.

Folks left back to Phnom Penh and the four of us did some more in depth, independent exploring. We checked out beaches and climbs. We stayed in a dusty town and ate $1 meals (not because of budget but because there was nothing else to eat) We met people and asked many questions and we talked and planned.

Simon and Amy went on and up the coast, right up to the Thai boarder. Lois and I did some climbs, even naming two new routes (info to follow) We went back to Kep and met some great contacts, people whom I’m sure our paths will cross many times over the coming years. More exploring, investigating, thinking, planning and enjoying ourselves. Even spent a night on a small island and basked in the light of a full moon.

Back to Phnom Penh and Lois has been really busy volunteering with Ragamuffin NGO. We have signed up for the half marathon down at the coast in March….. Well, Lois has and I’m retreating to the more leisurely 10.5 Km run.

We unfavourably have an Urban nuisance to contend with, noise! Bass speaker from club next door… eeek! On going process to find the main boss and politely request the music gets turned down not up at 2.30 in the morning. (watch this space for developments)

Simon and Amy are back from their travels and we have some very interesting and exciting options to consider. Our cards are close to our chests until we have agreed and confirmed our course of action. When we launch I’ll update you all. Lois and I have started our Khmer lessons and are slowly getting to grips with a new and intriguing language. ‘Oucha’ which means ‘Wonderful’

I have added a few pictures  of Christmas, Chinese New Year and some pink nipple cream which is not festive or new but very funny. Also some posters from a bar and some pictures of bling high heels, check out the mermaid heels on them high heels!

I wish you all a head ache free, blissfully captivating and fruitful start to the year.

I think your all Oucha. xxx

missed me?? haha… bet your all too caught up in the whole intensive, friends around, family dinners, Christmas shopping, diet watching, wine by the fire and new years desire . . . . . and I don’t blame you. Just wanted to send an update of the going ons of neil, your friendly white ass Kenyan in Cambodia… long time no hear.. Well, I’m all good, alive and kicking. After the half marathon and the mind ruin that comes with finishing such an undertaking. Had a few days grace and some amazing people met.

This post is summery of a few missions and some thoughts along the way………………………..

After the marathon Lois and I had the pleasure of spending time with the Staff of the Ragamuffin Project (an arts therapy organization), who are a uniquely mindful and compassionate team. We ate, cooked, danced, climbed, ran, had a boat trip, talked, listened to wedding music, learnt and laughed together for a few days. I really enjoyed their company, energy and unique individuality. After 2 nights at Hariharalaya retreat centre Lois and I boarded a horn blowing, music blearing, mozzie ridden bus to Battanbang which is pronounced ‘Battanbong’ . It’s in the North West of the country, near the Tonle Sap lake.

We met a great tour guide who was intriguing, funny and interested in teaching and learning… a great cat called Dollar, I asked him how he got his nickname and he relied ‘It’s not my nickname, it’s my birth name. I was born in the year the dollar was introduced into Cambodia’.  His mother thought it would be good luck. His mother was 25 years old when the Khmer Rouge came to the area. She lost many family members who were tricked into going to the stupa (temple) at the top of the hill who were then killed and thrown into the aptly named ‘killing caves’ It was a sober and humbling place. Dollar was sensitive without dwelling, informative without overpowering. A joy to spend the day with! We saw a pre Angkor temple, mine fields, amazing suspension bridge, got involved with some of the rice harvest and talked about politics and suntans with the field workers. They work 13 hour days for $4. They do this wearing gloves, hat and a scarf …….. not because they found the 30 degree heat chilly!! but because they did not want the sun to brown their skin……….. In most retail places in Cambodia you can get all types of skin cream but most with a whiting ingredient, a type of bleaching agent. So while in the UK some pay for fake tans these guys are trying to get white… the grass is always greener ay!!

Loved Battanbang, the fields, the fruits, the old French architect, the service , the amazing circus and arts NGO training centre that we went to see a show on our last night. A music festival Cambodia styles, an extravaganza of culture and creativity. Even had a great pizza.

The 7 hour bus journey back to Phnom Penh was filled with loud karaoke through a poor sound system. Back in PP Simon and Amy had arrived from the UK, looking a little shell shocked but happy. So we start the adventure of a lifetime… A new book with a new look. The future laid bare. Just have to see Christmas and the New Year through. I’m with my family, living together for the 1st time since I was 12 years old. Living on the same continent for the 1st time since I was 16….. WOW …

I’m gone but your not forgotten. Stay safe and happy my friends… Merry Christmas and a joy filled New Year… I’ll write more in 2012…

Peace to you all

Flood relief and a bag of bugs

Posted: November 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

Don’t panic everyone, we’re not giving fried crickets to flood victims….. although that would make a story ay? No, today’s post is a little more sobering than my others. Last Friday Mum asked if we would like to volunteer with a disaster relief  programme for flood victims in Kampong Thom province. We agreed, not too sure to what we were agreeing. We knew we had to be awake at 3.15am on Sunday to drive up to the village that had been affected.

After some more questions it came to light that the Australian Alumni Association of Cambodia (AAA-C) had raised $4,000 to assist with the flood victims. This  years flooding has been extensive and long in duration, it has destroyed crops and livestock and many have lost their lives. Kampong Thom was the worst effected province, Kampong Svay is the worst effected district that province and Tumpaeng Russey is the worst effected commune in that district. These people had been identified for the food and other necessary supplies that are desperately needed. Many lost everything.

My duties soon came to light as a driver. Driving in Cambodia takes skill, alertness and dexterity, all which were lacking at four in the morning when we picked up the car and met with the other volunteers. it was dark and I could have done with another 8 hours sleep before departure. The drive was long and I was glad that one of the volunteers shared it with me as my eyelids were heavy. I was also on day three of my fruit only fast.. another story.

The AAA-C who not only fund raised, managed and organize the whole programme, also gave up their free time to make the three and a half hour drive to help with the distribution. It was all very humbling and I did my duties with respect and admiration. We met the vice governor for the province as well as the 115 families who had been given a food package ticket and a time and place to attend.

We arrived with a truck and unloaded the rice, mosquito nets, soap, oil, fish and a few other essentials. Everything was laid out and the family member were asked to wait with the donation. The speeches were given thanking the donors with some some back patting and rightly so. Then within an hour of arriving the people loaded their vital packages onto bikes and off they went. The three and a half hour drive back to Phnom Penh was only broken up with a stop off to buy fried bugs and water lilly pods for lunch. This was how I broke my fruit only fast… with a deep fried crickets!

I spoke to one of the organizers and was told there are still 50 families in the commune who have received no aid and they are hard to reach as the flooding has made them accessible only by boat. The fund raising continues and although the water levels are reseeding people have lost their means of living and are desperate.

A friend recently wrote that she had had a crap week but was very grateful for the bigger thing, like food and a roof over her head.  I would like to echo these thoughts.

love and respect where it’s needed..

Why Wi Fi?

Posted: November 18, 2011 in let's talk ....

Good day fine fellows, ladies, boys and girls…..

Greetings from Cambodia. Have just returned from a holiday/research trip in Ratanakiri which is in the North East. A jolly bus trip into Ban Lung with the high pitched waling of Karaoke love songs ringing in my ears. Arrived to a fast growing rural township. I had heard stories along the lines of ‘ take only one set of clothes and chuck them when you leave, they will be ruined by the dust’ . . . unfounded warnings I can cheerily relay. There are sealed roads in the town… admittedly outside town the dust covered ‘roads’ are a bright red colour reminding me of my Kenyan days…. always wanted to get a Wifred Thesiger quote in something I wrote.

We where in town not to prove the dust doom sayers right or wrong as the case may be but to explore the possibilities of jungle trekking and waterfall swimming (had a hankering to go feral after fine dining and cultural conversations in Phnom Penh)

We did it….. the jungle trekking and waterfall swimming, as well as some spider munching, hammock sleeping, flora and fauna investigating, stupa sunsets, Animism learning and spending time with Ranger Reen (complete and utter Legend) . . .

not going to make you jealous with the ins and outs as that is not what this post is about!! Why Wi Fi?

gotta set the vibe before I rant….. So Ban Lung, the not so dusty one horse town I was expecting . . . but also not really a town as such… it is still in rural Cambodia so no window shopping unless your interested in moto parts and fried beetles…. where’s this going Neil… shhhhhhhhhh you, I’m setting the scene..

after some jungle stomping we arrived back into town. Sweaty and mozzi chopped and opted for a little bit of semi luxury and booked into a guest house room with hot water. While Lois was counting bug bites I went hunting and foraging for a cold beer and maybe a conversation about our adventure. The former was easy enough… I just asked at the bar and a cold beer materialised with some salted nuts… the latter was not so forth coming….

I travelled much 10 – 15 years ago and every hostel, back packers, bar and restaurants had a traveller or two with whom to exchange stories, thoughts of the day and top tips with . . . but things are different these days…. life’s gone digital . . . . The place had half a dozen or so barang (traveller types) sitting in ones and twos  . . . should be easy to strike up some conversation… alas not… Everyone.. and I mean everyone was socializing, not with each other but with the outside world via their laptops, tablets, smart phones and other futuristic gizmo’s. I stood there with my slowly warming beer thinking about how the age of computers is stealing the art of conversation from here and now.

Don’t get me wrong . .I’m a face tweeting cyber blogging social network  junkie at the worst of times but I also like a good natter… Keeping my thoughts to myself (till now) I sloped off. Will have to get my verbal fix from Lois…. a guaranteed good yarn with all the fine banter trimmings you would expect from her…..

till we meet again, stay on point.

peace