Thursday
Apr242014

Volunteer blog: Ellie Hewer

Aloha from the hammock! So today is Tuesday which means I’ve now been here for a week, not that you couldn’t tell that already by my feeble tan (auburn tone) in comparison to the rest of the island. So anyway, things here are pretty magic and kind of hard to sum up in a few words but I’ll give it go. So this time last week, Gen (who had picked me up from Sihanoukville) and I were on the Island Hopper heading over here to Koh Rong Samloem completely unaware of just how immense this place and the people are. I was greeted at the pier by my new Frontier family for the next month: Jenn and Max, who as it turns out, only lives 20 minutes away from me back home!

So things got off to a festive start with it being Khmer New Year over here, which lasts for about 3-4 days. Which is just as well because with all the talc wars that took place, I think there might be a talc draught for the next year on this island!

A few days later and the New Years celebrations have come and gone, so work begins! Starting with lectures from Jenn and then the task of learning the fish cards; a few mini tests later and I am beginning my spot tests, which are proving tricky as whenever we go for a snorkel my eyes become bigger than my brain and I seem to get lost in awe of this underwater paradise. Something I am trying to work on, but just you try it and maybe you’ll see what I am talking about.

My first week here was wrapped up with a beach BBQ with Toi- our local staff member- and his friends who had kindly cooked some delicious Jacks for us to feast on while we took in the pretty unbelievable view on long beach.

So, all in all, things are pretty magic here on Koh Rong Samloem.

By Ellie Hewer, Marine Research Assitant volunteer

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Apr242014

Principal Investigator blog: Khmer New Year

Happy Khmer New Year from CMM! This has been my third New Year celebration since arriving in Cambodia (including Jan. 1 and Chinese New Year) and was by far my favourite. Celebrations in the village started on Sunday, April 13th with decorating the village and creating special places for prayer. Bora, one of our friends from the community, brought us a handful of incense and showed us how to walk through a series of ceremonial gateways lined with ferns and flowers each representing something different: family, love, happiness and community. 

The celebrations continued for the next three days with parties, pranks and games. A traditional part of Khmer New Years includes drenching people with water and dousing them with baby powder, fun and very messy! There were also tug-of-war matches, a piñata-like game with a ceramic pot full of baby powder and money, and many new Cambodian games played in a circle. Truly, the best part of CMM - besides living in paradise - is being a part of such a lovely, welcoming village that maintains their cultural identity and shares it so willingly with others. What a great start to the year!

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
Apr232014

Khmer New Year

Khmer New Year was SO MUCH FUN at CMM. Check out the new pictures - the baby powder fights were the best!

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
Apr232014

Wow

So. Much. Sky.

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
Apr232014

Camp life

A little of life on CMM.

Khmer dancing.

Charlie channels her inner sea cucumber.

Team CMM out to dinner.

Hanging out!

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Apr102014

Marine life

Here's just some the beautiful marine life we've encountered this month.

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Apr102014

Happy Birthday!

Lots of colour and fun for this little fellas birthday which we were lucky enough to attend!

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Apr102014

Luckily...

...work never feels too much like work out here in Cambodia...

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Apr102014

Wish you were here?

The island is full of perfect spots like this to sling a hammock :)

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Apr102014

Beautiful sunset

And this has to happen... everyday....

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Apr102014

Principal Investigator Blog: Blue Planet LIVE

It was the end of a survey and I was floating in the deliciously warm, yet still refreshingly cool, briny blue sea over House Reef as Gen took the final depth measurement of the day.  I was gazing at a grouper when suddenly, Gen shouts for me.  In two quick strokes, I reach her and glance around.  To my amazement, it is a huge cuttlefish!  And then another, and another!  Two large males (~2 feet long) and a slightly smaller female, and not one of them cares in the slightest that Gen and I are a mere foot or two away. 

Jenn and Gen!

We have stumbled into an epic cuttlefish battle, and it’s over the right to ‘befriend’ the lady.  Gen and I drift in the current watching the battle royal, complete with flashing color displays as the males demonstrate their aggression through pigment cells in their skin.  Suddenly, the challenger male decides that he’s done with trying to be polite.  He jets over to the female and envelopes her roughly with his tentacles.  Distraught, she releases a large cloud of ink.  Her male rushes to her side and disentangles her, though she looks a little worse for wear.  The challenger male slinks away.

Just when I think the excitement is over, he’s back again for round two.  All three cuttlefish are flashing madly and it’s now clear that the female wants nothing to do with the challenger.  Between the ink and the colors, it has become quite the show.  Gen and I watch in amazement from front row seats, a mere foot from the action.  Twenty-five minutes later, the challenger admits defeat and slowly slinks off along the bottom of the sea.  He turns a bright, speckled white color that allows him to blend perfectly with the sand and soon after, he is indistinguishable from his surroundings. 

Gen and I head back to shore with huge grins on our faces.  Just another day at the office, I guess :)

By Jenn Reitz, Principal Investigator

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Apr102014

Volunteer Blog: Charlotte Parker - One Final Blog

9 weeks in and I have had to start saying my goodbyes… Where has the time gone?! Can’t believe I am starting to think about packing, hopefully it will be much less stressful than my pre-departure pack; one positive outcome of being clumsy is that from having to look after my many minor foot injuries, my med kit has now halved in size. SHOPPING SPACE! :D

Charlotte with the team (second from left)

Being part of the Cambodia Marine Project has definitely made me appreciate the need to conserve coral reefs and marine life, and the dedication, time and effort people have for the research. I never thought I would get so attached to fish; but when being offered a bit of Golden Rabbitfish at a beach party I did cry a little bit inside, politely decline and whisper to Jenn “I counted one of those on the survey today…”

There hasn’t been a day where I haven’t had a constant smile on my face. Even when on surveys with a snorkel stuffed in my mouth I am smiling and drowning myself when watching Toi do a bit of dive slate wafting to try and move the Diadema (Sea Urchin) away from the Giant Clam. Laughing underwater in a mask is not advisable, I think they should have that in the Health and Safety section of your mask instruction booklet; it does not stay sucked to your face!

My time here has been unpredictably perfect, meeting so many amazing people who have given me endless opportunities and have taught me so much. M’Pai Bai village now feels like my second home and everyone in the Frontier house are not only unforgettable friends, but my mish-mash family.

In Cambodia you never say goodbye as you never know when you might see them again; so M’Pai Bai village, Koh Rong Samloem, my little paradise home, SEE YOU LATER!

By Charlotte Parker, Marine volunteer

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Monday
Apr072014

Kadow!

April is hotting up the team is still dedicated to their beach conservation work!

Happy helper :)

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Monday
Apr072014

Who you gonna call?!

Cambodia marine team looking strong!

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
Apr022014

ARO Blog: Gen Labram

The coming of April heralds the beginning of the hot/dry season here in Cambodia, and it is delicious. Whilst reports of rain and wind have reached my ears about my hometown, here temperatures never dip below 30˚c, the only rain is accompanied by incredible thunder lightning displays and the water we survey in is as warm as a bath.  Today is more overcast, and we use this to our advantage by picking litter from the beach. This is a really important activity because it reduces the amount of waste that could enter the ocean and get eaten by all sorts of creatures - our last clean included the removal of over 130 plastic straws!

With the good deed done, its back in the water, surveying the beautiful reefs that surround the island I’ve come to call home. Every trip out holds potential to see something awesome, something new; and with the recent discovery that there are two types of small harmless shark species nearby, each snorkel is more exciting than the last!

By Gen Labram, marine ARO

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
Apr022014

Volunteer Blog: Balloons for a Birthday Bonanza!

This week’s blog is a little different; if I wrote an account of my birthday weekend it would be novel sized, so here is a list of 10 things that made my 19th super special:

- Toi waking at 6am to decorate the porch with balloons, making me my morning coffee and then presenting me with a shell encasing a beautiful seahorse necklace (Not a real one, although it was pretty intense opening the shell to the words “Charlie eat seahorse for medicine!”…) He is such a joker! ;)

- Opening my cards, birthday messages and presents from family and friends at home whilst munching on my birthday breakfast noodles.

- Being presented a tube of Jackers (Pringles) by Toi’s friends from Koh Smach – I have been craving crisps for weeks so this was one of the best birthday gifts ever!

- Taking the Island Hopper with Jenn over to Sihanoukville to celebrate my birthday in style.

- Being reunited with Gen UK! :D

- Having a massive room with a double bed, fans, a flushing toilet AND a shower with a head. MIND BLOWN!

- Eating Bangers & Mash with onion gravy and garden peas... AAAAAHHHHH...

- Meeting up with some of Toi’s friends from Sihanoukville, who brought balloons and a personalised birthday cake (one of them is a pro baker). When I found that the icing tastes like marshmallows, I literally died and went to heaven…

- Having a little shopping spree at the market the next day.

- Chilling out at a bar on the beach front, breeze in my hair, drinking a Gin and Tonic with some of the best people I have ever met.

Oh and of course, generally being here, in Cambodia… that’s pretty special. (If I don’t bullet point it I don’t have to count it in my 10… ;) )

By Charlotte Parker, volunteer

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Mar272014

Volunteer Blog: Charlotte Parker

As part of my BTEC, I am carrying out my own project of comparing the abundance and size of giant clams on the two reefs, one being under conservation and the other open for fishing.  

To collect the data, I have to swim along the set transect until I spot a giant clam, take down the distance along the transect, and dive down and measure the clams length.  Simple enough… if you have any sort of body coordination!

Coming back after my first survey looking slightly beaten up, Toi is now my research partner.  First time he comes out he only manages to watch my technique:  dive down head first, breath out through the snorkel to sink, and frog leg wildly until I eventually get the length or run out of breath.  He watches a couple of times before very politely asking if he could take the tape and have a go.  

We find another giant clam, and with all the ease and grace of a feather floating to the ground Toi sinks to the seabed, perches in a Tarzan stance and within a few seconds is back up and showing me the tape so I can record it on my slate.  Why wasn’t I taught this in my 7 years of swimming lessons?!  Toi, learning to swim around a year ago, just put my level 12 swimming badge totally to shame.  

A few surveys in and we are totally on it.  Now both having a tape measure, Toi continues on doing his thing and I look less like a drowning frog.  And I can write on the dive slate like nobody can!

By Charlotte Parker, volunteer

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Mar272014

Principal Investigator Blog: nom, nom, nom...

What an amazing week of food it has been here on Koh Rong Samloem.  Pizza has finally graced us with its presence, hot out of the brand new pizza oven built by the guys that own the Easy Tiger Guesthouse down the way.  And it is delicious!  Further fueling my foodie fantasies, I was lucky enough to attend a Cambodian wedding earlier this week.  That was full of delectable dishes as well - all kinds of different meats and new vegetables.  Our food is pretty good at CMM, but we don’t have meat or cheese.  Between pizza and wedding food, all my cravings have been fully satisfied this week.  

The wedding had other highlights besides the culinary.  At a Cambodian wedding, there are many outfit changes for both the bride and the groom.  Not to mention, they color coordinate with each one.  There was also quite a bit of dancing.  All in all, a night to remember!

By Jenn Reitz, Principal Investigator

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Monday
Mar242014

March in M'Pai Bai 

A few snaps from March...

Hugh eats a fish eye!

Mangrove trekking!

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Monday
Mar172014

Beautiful sunsets

Beautiful sunsets and sunrises...

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

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