Last day in Cambodia, Boby and Gage had an midday flight to Rangoon. I stayed on for a cooking class at the Sojourn Boutique Villas, near Siem Reap in Treak Village. Left from my hotel in a Tuk Tuk. Substitute the image of a guy pulling a 2 wheeled cart with a motorbike pulling the cart and you get the idea. One minute on a dirt road and my suitcase almost became part of the scenery. We pulled up to one of the most stunningly serene resorts I’ve ever seen. Situated in the middle of a village and rice paddies, they have a deep commitment to responsible tourism. Our teacher was a lovely local woman and excellent teacher. She took the three of us (me, a young British law student, and an American Adventuress) to the home of a local family to see their garden, water well, and kitchen. Every plant was edible, a good thing as the six year old daughter insisted I taste every growing leaf and fruit. The house and kitchen were both raised wooden structures. We left the family a kilo of rice in gratitude for sharing their space with us.
Back in the outdoor kitchen, we made Khmer Mango Salad, Fish Amok (the Khmer national dish), and Sticky Rice Flour Balls with Palm Sugar and fresh Coconut. We ate on a deck overlooking a koi pond – Great food, great company, delightful morning. By mid-afternoon, I was back at the airport on my way to Yangon, Myanmar via Bankok. I had an unexpectedly long layover so sat many hours in the Bankok airport. Felt like the crossroads of the world. Felt like I was truly in someone else’s backyard. I arrived late in Rangoon and got a taxi. The road was empty and the driver must have been going 90 mph. It was a relief to get to Trader’s Hotel, where Boby and Gage were expecting me and I was very happy to see them. I got to take the long hot bath I’d been dreaming of. Early next morning, we flew to Bagan.
Although I did not stay at the Sojourn Boutique Villas where the cooking class was held, I was so impressed I want to share the intention of the owners. Would love to do a yoga retreat there…
Below is a segment of their statement:
We aim to operate all facets of our business in a responsible and ethical manner. Below are some of our ongoing initiatives to meet our commitment.We are pleased to advise our guests that all rice used at Sojourn both for Restaurant Sojourn and for staff meals is purchased from Ibis Rice.Ibis Rice™ comes from communities that protect and monitor the Giant Ibis and other species. Through improved farming practices and access to higher value markets, Ibis Rice farmers are able to conserve natural habitats and earn a better living.
- We pride ourselves on being a fair pay equal opportunity employer
- We activley recruit staff from our surrounding village
- We provide free English lessons to staff to help their personal development
- We are committed to staff development & develop & recruit from within
- We encourage all staff to continue their schooling and education. We do everything we can to ensure staff attend school, have study time if required for exams and seek ongoing educational opportunities.
- We provide paid maternity leave and have a successful back to work program for our staff who are new mothers
- We reward staff loyalty with a yearly bonus program
- We have developed the Treak Village Enrichment Program in conjuction with the Treak Village Chief. This program specifically helps to improve the lives of the people living around Sojourn. This program will work on four key areas:
- Provision of water filters
- Provision of repair of water wells
- Rubbish collection
- Tree Grants
- 7% of Sojourns annual profits will be donated to our Enrichment Program
- Our Treak Village walk and talk tour aims to directly help the village and 50% of the tour fee is donated to the Enrichment Program.