Beyond Unique Escapes is a responsible travel hub located in Siem Reap Cambodia. They offer a range of tours where you can experience life like a local and get a glimpse of the beautiful landscape outside of the main city. The tour company works closely with local people in surrounding villages, some of which live on or below the poverty line. In collaboration with HUSK Cambodia, the tours are a way to provide an income to the poorer families in the area by encouraging their involvement.
Every tour engages four different families within the village and involves them in an activity with the visitors, which could be anything from weaving palm leaves, to traditional Cambodian cooking lessons and even learning how to harvest rice. The tours also include a tree planting activity, whereby $5 is donated to HUSK’s community programs.
HUSK Cambodia is an organisation in Cambodia that aims to help improve the lives of people living in remote and rural areas. Their current projects focus on providing education, safe water, health and sanitation for people within the Treak & Kopheim communities on the outskirts of Siem Reap.
One of the highly recommended tours available through Beyond Unique Escapes is the Day in a Life Tour. On this tour you will not only see the work that HUSK Cambodia is doing in the community, but also get a glimpse of life in the rural villages.
The tour starts at 8am where you are transported from the main office in Siem Reap to the Kopheim Village, located about half an hour out of town. The change of scenery boasts beautiful green rice fields, tall palm trees, grazing cows and traditional Cambodian homes. Your English speaking guide will tell you everything you want to know about life in the Kopheim village, and everything you want to know about life in Cambodia.
You will visit four separate families and get the chance to experience one of the many activities available. We had the opportunity to learn the art of palm weaving as we sat below the shade of a traditional Cambodian house and watched Grandma Nhoi demonstrate how to create the palm leaf shades that make up the walls of her home. This is also the place where you will get to plant your tree that is contributing to the work that HUSK is doing in the community.
An Ox Cart will be waiting for you to transport you the short 15 minutes to the next house where you will stop for lunch. You get the chance to learn how to make curry powder using some of the local ingredients such as Galangal & Lemongrass, which will add a delicious touch to your traditional Khmer lunch.
Here you can sit and talk with the locals, and with your guide, about what life is like for the people of the Kopheim village and how life has improved for them since the tours began. Many of the people in this village have spent their lives living in poverty. When the founders of HUSK first arrived here they were shocked to see the community suffering from preventable diseases such as waterborne disease, and therefore set up the organisation as a way to provide simple solutions like water filters for safe drinking water, and education programs to educate the local people about safe living. One of their most successful projects is the HUSK Cambodia School, which will be the next stop on your tour.
The HUSK School is quite unique for the way it is built using plastic water bottles filled with rubbish. The organisation had witnessed Cambodia’s problem with excess rubbish and plastic bottles, and found a solution through an environmentally sustainable initiative in the community. For every twelve plastic bottles collected and filled with rubbish, a family would receive one kilogram of rice. For every fifty bottles, the family would receive a school bag. Slowly but surely the community became cleaner and the problem with rubbish now became a solution.
On the tour you visit the famous plastic bottle school and see how the community is leading the way with environmentally sustainable practices. The children are taught about the importance of the environment and it is clear through the art on the school walls, and the gardens throughout the school grounds, that the ideas are enforced and that perhaps in the near future there will be a green change.
The HUSK school is the last stop on a tour filled with beyond unique experiences.
If you only visit Cambodia to see the ancient temples of Angkor Wat or to visit the historic Killing Fields of Phnom Penh you risk missing much of what this magnificent country is about. By taking a tour like this you are opening up your understanding of the culture, as well as contributing to a positive future for it’s people.
For more information about HUSK or if you would like to help contribute to future projects you can visit their website here.