WK Cambodia Cycle Challenge: rice wine, bamboo sticky rice and floating villages

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Day 4 of our Cambodia Cycle Challenge provided the opportunity to spend time in Cambodian homes and local businesses in the Battambang area and gain insight into the daily life of Cambodians in the countryside.  For today’s 50km ride we partnered with a local social enterprise, Soksabike, which provides vocational training and job opportunities to local youths.  We were joined by 2 knowledgeable student guides for this adventure.

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Our first stop was with a family who make rice wine, a traditional alcoholic drink in Cambodia, similar to sake from Japan or cheongju from Korea.  Rice wine is seen as having medicinal properties and is often fermented with ingredients (like snakes, scorpions – and fruit!), with each concoction designed to address a different ailment.

The family we visited make about 30 litres of rice wine each day – a significant producer.

Rice wine operations!

We then got back on our bikes and cycled through some beautiful country tracks, observing the local families going about their everyday.

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We made our way to a local producer of bamboo sticky rice, a delicacy and a delicious dessert.  It is made by cooking pre-soaked rice, black beans, coconut milk and sugar inside the bamboo.  Once ready, you can eat the dessert straight out of the bamboo stalk (as demonstrated by Danni in the photo below).

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Once cooked, the blackened edges of the bamboo are removed, and the bamboo sticky rice is ready for consumption.

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Our team then raced against the clock to complete our 50km cycle AND get back to the hotel in time to shower before getting the bus to our next destination.  Amazing how fast our team can cycle when there’s a prospect of spending 4 hours on a bus still in sweaty bike gear!

After completing the 50kms in one of the hottest days we’ve had here, the bus journey provided a bit of respite.  As you can see, most of us crashed out.

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Our destination was Kampong Chanang and its bustling dock on the Tonle Sap river.  Here we jumped on a boat that took us out to the floating villages.   Our timing was perfect as the sun was just starting to set as we embarked.  When we finished the boat trip, the moon was reflecting off the water and the Cambodian families on the water were settling in for the evening.   A peaceful end to the day.

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We transferred across to our hotel, and after a local dinner together we hooked up for a Skype call with IJM’s Field Office Director in Cambodia.  Peter joined IJM in 2010 and has been leading the forced labour project in Cambodia since 2016.  Peter shared with us the successes of the Cambodian team of IJM in combating child sex trafficking in the region, rescuing more that 500 victims and ensuring the conviction of over 200 criminals.  He also shared some of the complexities of the new forced labour project, particularly cross-border trafficking into the Thai fishing industry.  To successfully combat this crime, IJM’s Cambodian field office is working with its Thai counterpart, bringing dual prosecutions in both jurisdictions to ensure the trafficking rings are brought down.

It was great to hear from Peter today.  We are all looking forward to Day 6 of our trip where we have the opportunity to spend a whole day with the field office in Phnom Penh and learn more about IJM’s work in this region.

If you would like to support IJM, you can make a donation on our team fundraising page – https://give.everydayhero.com/au/team-wk

Till tomorrow…

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