Our project of the week this week is the South East Asia Ethical Adventure Trail so we thought we’d take a look at this beautiful region and bring you all the best things to do, see and eat.
Visiting South East Asia:
South East Asia is a fascinating part of the world, the sweet perfume of the temple joss sticks and the heavenly aroma of spices fills the air. The region encompasses several countries including Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Laos, East Timor, and Indonesia. This is a highly spiritual place brimming with the artefacts of gods of past and present, ancient spirits of the land and the deities of Buddhism and Hinduism. Full of culture, adventure, wildlife and great food you can’t beat a trip to South East Asia.
We’ve set up our amazing South East Asia Ethical Adventure Trail to give volunteers the chance to explore the amazing and ancient kingdoms of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. This 10 week trail is truly a trip of a lifetime and it all kicks off in Bangkok, Thailand before moving onto Cambodia and Vietnam.
Volunteers spend the first four days exploring all Bangkok has to offer visiting the phenomenal Royal Palace and museum, the exquisitely carved monuments of Thailand’s ancient kings, the Red Cross Snake Farm, The Siam Centre and the glorious reclining Buddha. Next it’s time to travel to the Thai province of Kanchanaburi – known by many as Thailand’s Aladdin’s Cave it’s brimming with natural and historical treasures including some of Asia’s most dramatic waterfalls. Whilst there volunteers can enjoy the luscious hot springs, kayak down the foaming rivers and view the bridge over the vast River Kwai. Then it’s time to take a bicycle trip round Wat Tham Seua and Wat Tham Khao Noi which offers the perfect way to see these amazing temples. Before leaving Thailand the trail also stops off at Pai and the beautiful city of Chiang Mai where there’s the opportunity to trek overnight to the remote hill villages before returning to Bangkok.
After 2 weeks or so in Thailand it’s time to head off to Cambodia – a kingdom where luscious jungles clamber over long forgotten temples and a truly charming and mysterious place. First stop in Cambodia is Phnom Penh a sprawling metropolis known as the “pearl of Asia” where volunteers spend several days exploring the Royal Palace, the Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields. Then it’s on to Siem Reap with its expansive lakes, abundance of lavishly decorated elephants, floating villages and the spectacular Angkor Wat - the mother of all temples –which is the world’s largest religious building and one of Southeast Asia’s most important archaeological sites.
At this point in the trail volunteers have the unique opportunity to take part in a 4 week conservation or community development project in Cambodia. As part of the teaching project volunteers teach in a temple school for underprivileged children alongside monks and make a vital contribution to the lives of those in the community. Whilst on the project volunteers deliver a comprehensive, varied and enjoyable teaching programme and have the opportunity to gain the beneficial TEFL certificate.
Or alternatively volunteers can choose to undertake a 4 week conservation project where they carry out important work on the Ministry of Environment’s Biodiversity Survey and Training Project in Botum Sakor National Park. Whilst on the project volunteers will explore the tropical rainforests and jungles, discover a wealth of species, search for mammals and other animals and track the elusive sun bear, leopard and tiger. By carrying out this valuable conservation work volunteers also have the opportunity to gain a BTEC qualification in Tropical Habitat Conservation.
Following the placement is on to Vietnam for a spectacular end to the trail. Ho Chi Minh is the first stop off where volunteers can visit the War Remnants Museum, take a tour of the Mekong Delta and its floating markets and gaze upon the arching ceilings of the Halls of Mandarins. Then it’s off to Hanoi stopping off on the way to go sand boarding, sunbathing on the beach, boating down the Perfume River, exploring the Forbidden Purple City and visiting the imperial tombs. When you reach Hanoi visit the Temple of Literature and explore this vibrant and colourful city of a million bicycles. Then it’s off to the highland resort of Sapa and the spectacular coast line, enormous limestone caves and monolithic islands of Halong Bay before heading home.
Sites to See:
Whilst out in South East Asia be sure to take a trip to check out some of the sites not featured on the trail.
Inle Lake - Myanmar:
Photo courtesy of Marc Veraat
Inle Lake is truly stunning – this wonderful watery world of floating gardens, stilted villages and crumbling stupas is an absolute must see. Some even describe the tumbling of the mountains towards the lakeshore as blurring the distinction between heaven and earth. Not only this but Inle Lake is the perfect place for outdoorsy travellers who want to while away the days canoeing, cycling and walking through the spectacular countryside and to top it all off there’s even a monastery filled with enlightenment.
Luang Prabang - Laos:
Photo courtesy of Chi King
There’s nowhere more laid back than Laos and no where better to enjoy this country than Luang Prabang. Encircled by mountains Luang Prabang sits 700m above sea level at the meeting of the Nam Khan and Mekong River. A feast for the senses, Luang Prabang, is filled with the perfume of pearly frangipanis, the scent of fresh coffee and the spicy aroma of the delicious market food. The place is alive with colour from the scarlet flowers if the overgrown trees that line river banks to the burnt sienna robes and resplendent gold and claret wats of the monks from Luang Prabang’s 32 temples.
Pulau Perhentian- Malaysia:
Photo courtesy of Patrik Axelsson
Pulau Perhentian is the perfect place to take a break and relax from all the adventurous activities on your travels. These two beautiful islands offer crystal clear aquamarine waters, white sandly beaches and the perfect place to chillax. The smaller of the two islands Kecil has an abundance of cheap chalets and lively cafe-bars and is popular with the younger backpacker crowd. Visitors can easily cross the strait from island to island to get to the other island of Besar where amazing barbeques and delicious seafood awaits. The islands also offer great opportunities to snorkel, dive and go on jungle walks.
Recipe: Asian Honey-Tea Grilled Shrimp:
Photo courtesy of djnordic
South East Asia is a region characterised by a rich culture of ethnic foods and is considered a cook’s paradise. The traditional cuisine of the region is a blend of flavours and exotic spices and ingredients and that’s exactly what this recipe champions. This delicious recipe serves 4 so invite your friends round for a taste.
1 1/2 lb. (one and a half lbs) medium shrimp, peeled, de-veined
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup brewed double-strength orange spice tea, cooled
¼ cup honey
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp. peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
In a plastic bag, combine tea, honey, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and pepper, to make the marinade. Remove half the marinade and set it aside for dipping sauce.
Add shrimp to marinade remaining in plastic bag, turning to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator for anywhere from 30 minutes to up to 12 hours.
Remove shrimp from marinade; discard marinade. Thread shrimp onto 8 skewers, dividing in an even way.
Grill over medium to hot charcoal for 4 to 6 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and are just firm to the touch, turning once. Season with salt to taste.
Meanwhile, prepare the dipping sauce by placing reserved half the marinade in small saucepan.
Let it come to a boil over medium to high heat. Boil 3 to 5 minutes or until slightly reduced.
Stir in green onions and place dipping sauce in serving bowl and place shrimps on the plate beside.
By Hannah Jones