Georgians generous to world

Author: conserva

We live in a world where one billion people go hungry, 1.5 billion lack access to clean water and 1.6 billion lack adequate shelter. It’s going to take all of us to address those challenges and to provide humanitarian relief following disasters and civil conflict. What happens in one part of the world can have dramatic ripple effects on others. Reaching out to people in the poorest corners of the world is not just humanitarian. It’s strategic.

We know that when our country assists developing nations, we not only help improve the lives of their citizens, but we also ensure that American taxpayers continue to see a strong return on investments in international affairs.

No one knows that better than the people of Georgia. We have a proud tradition of being engaged in today’s world. Atlanta serves as headquarters to some of the largest global brands and organizations in the world with rapidly growing international operations in emerging markets. Today, trade supports more than 1.2 million jobs in Georgia and has generated almost $38 billion in goods and services for exports to foreign markets.

Above all, lending a helping hand is a moral issue. Helping those who are struggling simply to survive is the right thing to do. As developing countries consume more than half of our exports, from an economic standpoint, America cannot afford to ignore the needs of those in emerging markets around the world. To bring about lasting change and create economic opportunities for people in need, American businesses and non-governmental organizations mustwork with international agencies to help people build the foundation for a better life. Our organizations are committed to working alongside families to create healthy and thriving communities.

For nearly 40 years, Habitat for Humanity has been a global poverty-fighting organization, partnered with more than 4 million people worldwide to help them participate in their own housing solutions. Sometimes that is new construction; at other times it is a matter of making repairs and rehabbing a structure. For many in the world, accessing microfinance loans to make small improvements is the best housing solution. In six countries in Europe and central Asia, 91 percent of the families Habitat served last year were through microfinance.

In addition, Habitat for Humanity helps families left homeless by disasters, war and civil unrest. Since the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, for example, Habitat for has supported more than 50,000 families in Port-au-Prince, Léogâne and Cabaret with transitional and permanent housing. Throughout the world, Habitat and its supporters advocate for policies and systems that advance access to adequate, affordable housing.

Similarly, with operations in more than 200 countries and territories, UPS has a long history of working with disaster relief organizations to deliver critical, life-saving aid. Through a range of innovative global programs, the UPS Foundation has developed a multi-sector commitment to urgent humanitarian relief, making a measurable difference in global communities.

Earlier this month, the UPS Foundation committed to provide transportation support to relief agencies battling the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This is just a part of the more than $100 million that UPS and its employees invest each year in worldwide charitable giving.

Whether it’s responding to emergencies, improving housing conditions, fighting world hunger or fostering economic development through secure land tenure, addressing humanitarian needs is a smart investment. We can be proud that American assistance over the years – from vaccines to food aid to shelter to clean water and sanitation programs – has saved millions of lives and improved living conditions for countless people.

Georgians are the most generous people in the world. Our effort in serving people in need is one of our most remarkable values. With the world growing more interconnected every day, this is not just good for our soul, but also for our economy.

David Abney is the chief executive officer of UPS; Jonathan Reckford is CEO of Habitat for Humanity and serves on the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s Georgia Advisory Committee.

Investing in future of higher education

By Kassandra Jolley

According to recent data from The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Atlantans give approximately 4 percent of their income to charity, ranking it as the fourth-most generous among large metropolitan areas. Even during the recent recession, Atlanta remained true to its philanthropic heritage by ensuring help was available to those who needed it the most.

In 2013, education was the recipient of the largest giving increase of all charitable sectors in the U.S. While that is good news for institutions like Spelman College, this validates the critical role higher education has in cultivating intellectuals and the next generation of philanthropists.

Interestingly, The Chronicle of Philanthropy data reveals that middle-class Americans increased their share of income given to charity, even if they were making less than they were before the recession. National statistics show that for many organizations, mid-level donors are increasingly a larger portion of annual donors; we’ve found this to be true at Spelman.

Earlier this year, Spelman announced that it exceeded its comprehensive fund-raising campaign goal, generating $157.8 million. This is the largest amount raised in the history of the institution. The campaign attracted support for scholarships, academic initiatives and campus renewal. Of the more than 18,000 campaign donors, a record-breaking 12,000 alumnae made a gift to the campaign.

What do these trends mean for our future?

With this much growth in foundation giving among middle-income donors, the need for a thriving, philanthropic middle class is clear. As an all-women’s, historically black college, Spelman is producing the next generation of philanthropists by transforming student lives and equipping graduates to transform their communities and the world.

Half of our student population is Pell-Grant eligible, a high number compared to other selective, private liberal arts colleges. Additionally, just as many of our students are first-generation college attendees. At 76 percent, our six-year average graduation rate is well above the national average of 50 percent for first-generation students.

DFor several years in a row, Washington Monthly has ranked Spelman among the top 10 schools for social mobility, meaning our students gain advantages earlier generations didn’t have. College graduates are predicted to earn one million dollars more than high school graduates over a lifetime.

According to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, African-Americans are inclined to give a higher percentage of their income (25 percent more per year) to charities than other races. Nearly two-thirds of African-American households make charitable donations.

Institutions that prepare students to earn financial independence and amplify a disposition for giving through intentional student programming are laying the foundation for the future of giving in this country. At Spelman, that effort begins when a student walks on campus. She is greeted by women who came before her through a series of co-curricular activities, including formal alumnae mentoring programs.

Our students are routinely engaged in fundraising efforts for their community and college. For example, each year seniors are asked to give in honor of their graduation year. Seniors who participate receive a special tassel and are recognized at their final convocation at Spelman. We place emphasis on the importance of alumnae giving through the Every Woman, Every Year campaign that has catapulted alumnae participation from 16 percent to 41 percent in just seven years.

The histories of Atlanta and Spelman College are intertwined. We don’t believe it is by accident that our community continues to be among the most generous when it comes to giving to others. We have intentionally fostered altruism – among Spelman students, faculty and alumnae.

Investing in higher education is key to growing the middle class and building future generations of philanthropists. As each of us seek out organizations and causes to support in the years to come, that’s a lesson worth taking to heart.

Kassandra Jolley is vice president for institutional advancement at Spelman College.

Gay rights, human rights

By John Christakis

In Atlanta on a recent Sunday, I marched to the tunes of the Spice Girls underneath a rainbow-colored Union Jack representing the British Consulate General in Atlanta. As our “Love is GREAT” t-shirt-wearing-clan turned down Peachtree Street, I hopped onto the side of a Mini Cooper convertible.

Waving to the crowd in a fashion that surely the Queen would approve, I was overwhelmed by cheers as the British Invasion debuted at Atlanta Pride. As an out-and-proud American working for the British Government and a Yankee in the South, I wanted to say “thanks y’all” for making me feel so welcome at my first Pride experience.

Let us shake off the image of the stiff-upper lip Brit and embrace the United Kingdom (U.K.) as one of most progressive nations in the world in terms of LGBT equality. England and Wales celebrated their first same-sex weddings earlier this year and Scotland will recognize equal marriage later this year. As a result, the International Gay and Lesbian Association’s (ILGA) annual Rainbow Map ranked the U.K. as first in LGBT rights in Europe.

We’ve come a long way in a little over two decades. My own organization, the Foreign Office, banned gay people from working there until 1991; there is still work to be done. Today, it empowers me to know that my employer not only supports its LGBT-friendly staff but allows them a vehicle to show their pride by participating in events like Pride parades across the nation.

LGBT culture is more present in mainstream media than ever before. We must remember that we march in Pride to show the world there is no shame in being out and it is ok to be comfortable with who you are, no matter sexual identity. We also march in memory of those who could not, the generations left in the closet and without a voice. Again, it is not whether you are gay or straight, transexual, or bisexual; LGBT rights are human rights. And until equal rights are granted to all citizens, there will still be a necessity for Pride.

In Atlanta, I was filled with emotion when the parade route came across a group of anti-gay protestors. We knew they would be there. It was not the anti-gay slander that evoked so much feeling in me, but rather the Pride crowd blocking protestors from Peachtree Street. Pride celebrates diversity through unity; gay and straight, Brits and Americans, all marching towards a common goal. This is not about gay rights, but human right

John Christakis is the business development associate, UK trade investment, for the British Consulate-General Miami.

Article source: http://atlantaforward.blog.ajc.com/2014/10/30/georgians-generous-to-world/

Gwaii Haanas has been selected as one of three finalists for a National Geographic Traveler World Legacy Award in the Sense of Place category. These awards are a new initiative of the National Geographic Society in partnership with ITB Berlin, the world’s largest travel trade show.

“Everything is connected in Gwaii Haanas. From temperate rain forests to abundant sea life and carved monumental poles, all natural and cultural treasures in this unique protected area provide a glimpse into the Haida way of life. Thank you, for helping us share this special place with the world,” said Ernie Gladstone from Vancouver in response to the announcement at ITB Asia in Singapore on October 29. The awards will be given out at ITB Berlin in March 2015.

RELATED: AIANTA Wins Top Ten Best Exhibit Award at 2014 ITB Berlin

National Geographic and ITB Berlin are honoring Gwaii Haanas in these categories:

Enhancing, protecting and supporting cultural heritage by:

o        protecting and conserving treasures like the standing poles and longhouse remains at the ancient village SGang Gwaay (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and K’uuna Llnagaay;

o        sustaining Haida culture by supporting the Watchmen program where Haida of all ages live at cultural sites, connecting visitors to these places and carrying out traditional activities like carving, weaving and food gathering.

o        working with elders to map Haida place names throughout the region and record oral histories;

o        working with archaeologists to inventory more than 500 human-use or settlement sites dating back over 12,000 years;

Educating guests on the importance of cultural traditions by:

o        presenting archaeological findings and other cultural heritage programs to locals and visitors via our interpretation programs, website and a regular speakers series;

o        providing an orientation to all visitors that highlights the history of Gwaii Haanas cooperative management and outlines the Haida worldview of “Everything is connected to everything else.”

Protecting the environment by:

o        restoring important seabird and salmon habitat;

o        promoting the principle of “yahguudang,” or “respect for all living things.”

Most successfully providing a sense of place by:

o        Commissioning the 42-foot Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole to celebrate 20 years of cooperative management.

o        Three young Haida artists led by carver Jaalen Edenshaw brought new energy to the continuum of monumental art on Haida Gwaii in 2013. Carved red cedar poles used to line the beaches in Haida villages and marked the stories of families, crests and events. Many poles were removed from villages after contact with Europeans. Although new poles have been raised over the last 40 years, this was the first pole raised in the Gwaii Haanas area in 130 years.

o        More than 400 people travelled to remote Hlk’yah GaawGa (Windy Bay) by boat or seaplane to witness the pole raising live and the story was featured in the New York Times, Berliner Zeitung, Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, CBC The National and dozens of other print, television, radio and magazine features.

Background

Together, the Government of Canada and the Council of the Haida Nation manage Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site at the southern tip of Haida Gwaii, an archipelago off the west coast of northern BC. Here, the Haida Gwaii Watchmen watch over important cultural sites including the standing poles at SGang Gwaay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gwaii Haanas is also home to giant Sitka spruce, feasting humpback whales, salmon and herring, and a significant proportion of the world’s nesting seabirds.

Award categories

Earth changers: Recognizing cutting-edge leadership in environmentally friendly business practices and green technology, from renewable energy and water conservation to zero-waste systems and carbon emissions reduction.

Sense of Place: Recognizing excellence in enhancing cultural authenticity, including implementing vernacular architecture and design, support for the protection of historic monuments, archeological sites, indigenous heritage, and artistic traditions.

Conserving the Natural World: Recognizing outstanding support for the preservation of nature, including restoring natural habitat, and protecting rare and endangered species, whether on land or in the oceans.

Engaging Communities: Recognizing direct and tangible economic and social benefits that improve local livelihoods, including training and capacity building, fair wages and benefits, community development, health care, and education.

Destination Leadership: Recognizing destination stewardship, including cities, provinces, states, countries, and regions that are demonstrating environmental best practices, protection for cultural and natural heritage, benefits to local people, and educating travelers on the principles of sustainable tourism.

Article source: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/10/29/national-geographic-honors-gwaii-haanas-outstanding-cultural-tourism-site-157585

Abbot Point and Caley Valley Wetlands are home to more than 40,000 water birds

The Australian government will not conduct a full environmental impact assessment for the disposal of dredge spoil on sensitive wetlands at Abbot Point, near the Great Barrier Reef.

The controversial project will be assessed using “preliminary documentation” only, documents show.

Abbot Point, south of Cairns, is a major coal port and is being expanded to cope with increased exports.

Environmental groups say the government’s step is highly unusual.

They say fast-tracking the dredging approval would put an already threatened reef in greater danger of degradation.

Greenpeace reef campaigner Shani Tager said: “Adani, the Indian coal company behind the new Abbot Point coal terminal, has been holding the Queensland and federal governments to ransom over this development, threatening to pull out unless their demands are met.

“[Environment Minister] Greg Hunt has rolled over, again failing to stand up to Adani and its reef wrecking agenda.”

The Abbot Point Port and Wetland Project

  • Dredging of 2.5m tonnes of seabed and seagrass from Great Barrier Reef
  • Construction of 335 hectares of dredge spoil storage ponds on wetlands near the reef
  • Pipeline to allow discharge of storm water into the wetlands
  • A 6.5km (four miles) long, 4m high circular railway embankment that will enclose most of the wetlands

In September, the Queensland government asked the federal government to speed up the plan’s approval, assessing it using documents filed with an original plan to dump dredge spoil in Great Barrier Reef waters.

A spokesman for Mr Hunt told Australian media that the assessment would be a “very rigorous process”.

“Australia has some of the most stringent environmental protection laws in the world and these proposals will be assessed thoroughly,” the spokesman said.

Under the proposal, millions of tonnes of seabed would be dredged from the World Heritage Area and dumped on the Caley Valley wetlands, which is home to more than 40,000 water birds.

The government recently changed a plan to dump thousands of tonnes of sediment at sea but scientists remain concerned about what that will mean for the wetlands and the nearby reef.

Conservation group WWF-Australia said a full environmental impact assessment process was standard practice with a development of this size.

Abbot Point is one of Australia’s major coal ports

“The fast tracking of development at Gladstone [on the Queensland coast] triggered the World Heritage Committee’s concern; this looks like a case of history repeating itself,” said WWF-Australia reef campaigner Louise Matthiesson.

“No previous studies have examined the specific impacts of dredge spoil disposal in this sensitive area or the proposed alteration of the Caley Valley Wetlands,” she said.

Greens Senator Larissa Waters said not only had Mr Hunt failed to require an environmental impact statement to dump spoil on the wetlands, he hadn’t revoked the permit to dump the spoil in the reef’s waters.

“So it’s up to the proponent, [Queensland Premier] Campbell Newman, who is no friend of the reef, to decide whether to dump on the reef or its wetlands,” she said.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-29828276

Image of Asia: Cycling to work in Pyongyang

North Koreans are seen cycling to work at dusk through condensation on a car window, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)



Posted: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 7:48 am
|


Updated: 3:30 pm, Tue Oct 28, 2014.

Image of Asia: Cycling to work in Pyongyang

Associated Press |

In the photo taken by Wong Maye-E through condensation on a car window, North Koreans are seen cycling to work in Pyongyang at dawn Tuesday. The capital, North Korea’s economic center and most populous city, has public transit such as a subway train, electronic street trolleys and buses, and some residents have cars. But commuting by bicycle is common, especially farther outside the city.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014 7:48 am.

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Article source: http://www.newsadvance.com/news/world/wire/image-of-asia-cycling-to-work-in-pyongyang/article_033b40ef-3647-5388-8c05-c7cdb955892c.html

Infrastructure in Cambodia is not as well developed as in neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, and floods and poor roads make travel challenging during the monsoon season, from May to October, but cheap frequent bus services, a good domestic airline and easygoing locals make travelling here an adventure – and easier than you might think.

From Siem Reap

Start in Siem Reap by following our Angkor Wat holiday itinerary, which focuses on ‘Temple Town’, the springboard for exploring the Khmer empire’s world heritage archaeological sites, and the surrounding area.

You can get to Siem Reap by train or bus from Bangkok (allow a full day) or on a short flight from Bangkok, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City and other Asian capitals. See our Top 10 hotels, hostels and BBs near Angkor Wat for places to stay.

Off-the-beaten-track temples

Banteay Chhmar, near Battambang.
Photograph: Dennis Drenner/Alamy

If you’re not “templed out”, you could spend two days seeing these alluring yet little-visited temples.

Prasat Preah Vihear
Perched spectacularly on a plateau in the Dangrek mountains, Prasat Preah Vihear (£3 entry) is a sprawling, Unesco world heritage listed temple from the Angkor-era. It is 135 miles northeast from Siem Reap and straddles the Thai border. It’s just about doable on a day trip, however, an overnight stay at Preah Vihear Hotel (doubles from £49), 19 miles away, allows you to savour both sunset and sunrise at the site. Siem Reap-based Beyond Unique Escapes offers a tours from US$80 per person.

Banteay Chhmar
Remote Banteay Chhmar (£3 entry), 105 miles northwest of Siem Reap, is an enjoyable detour en route to Battambang. It’s worth the journey for its size – it’s the fourth largest Angkorian temple – unspoilt setting, and chance to experience a homestay with a local family in a traditional Khmer house ($7 per room; meals $1-$3). See the Banteay Chhmar Tourism website for details on getting there.

Battambang city and province

The ‘bamboo train’ ride at Battambang.
Photograph: Geoff Moore/REX

Riverside Battambang is Cambodia’s second largest city although it feels like a country town. Most visitors are here to hurtle through the rice fields on the “bamboo ‘train”, known in Khmer as a norry (one hour, £3), a wooden frame covered with slats of bamboo and powered by a motorbike engine that runs on a single-track railway built by the French in the 1920s. They are fun, but it’s worth spending a couple of days taking in the city’s architecture and arts, sampling street food, cycling to villages, and doing tuk tuk tours into the countryside to see Angkorian temples and visit cottage industries.

Check into colonial-style Bambu Hotel (doubles from $90) in the centre or for a village experience try the Khmer wooden houses at Maisons Wat Kor (doubles from $94) in Wat Kor village.

Battambang’s protected heritage quarter is home to 800 significant buildings, including a 150-year old Chinese temple, charming shop-houses, elegant colonial French buildings, glittering pagodas and striking modernist buildings from the New Khmer Architecture movement. Battambang Bike offers architecture and art-themed cycle tours ($20) and village bike rides and also rents bicycles.

Monks outside the Maek Maek gallery, in front of sculpture by Battambang artist Mao Soviet.
Photograph: Claire Knox/The Guardian

Thanks to the 20-year old Phare Ponleau Selpak performing arts and visual arts school, which has a circus department and big top (shows Monday and Thursday 7pm, one hour, $8), there’s a flourishing arts scene. Galleries and art spaces that can be browsed include Make Maek, Lotus Bar and Gallery and Sammaki on Street 2½, Studio Art Battambang on Street 1½, and BCi Battambang opposite the Royal Hotel.

Battambang is Cambodia’s rice bowl and boasts the country’s finest food. Visit Phsar Boeung Choeuk market to see fresh local produce. Try noodles and dumplings handmade to order at Lan Chov Khorko Miteanh (145 Street 2) or dine on pan-Asian cuisine at stylish Jaan Bai (Street 2), a social enterprise restaurant and bar that trains and employs disadvantaged kids, with a menu by Asia’s best chef, David Thompson of Nahm Bangkok. At sunset, stalls set up around Phsar Nath market to sell soups, curries and barbecue meats. Battambang Resort runs a fantastic snack tour (from $7) to sample street food at riverside stalls and eateries.

You can hire a tuk-tuk for around £9 a day, or £6 half a day, and take an excursion into the lush countryside to see artisanal producers make incense, cotton kramas (traditional Cambodian checked scarves), rice paper, noodles, and rice wine. En route visit Angkorian-era temples such as crowd-free Ek Phnom and Wat Banan, and Mount Sampeau, site of the Killing Caves, where the Khmer Rouge dumped its victims bodies; at dusk watch millions of bats emerge for a cave.

Asia-based Backyard Travel has a three-day Beyond Angkor: Battambang and its Countryside tour, taking in many of these experiences, which departs from Siem Reap and costs $469pp all-inclusive.

Phnom Penh

From Battambang, there are some 20 buses a day to Phnom Penh (six hours, longer during the monsoon, about £4). Use our Phnom Penh in three days holiday itinerary to make the most of your time in the cosmopolitan capital, and our Top 10 hotels, hostels and BBs in Phnom Penh for our recommendations for where to stay.

Rivers, forests and mountains

Traditional fishing methods at Kompong Cham on the Mekong river.
Photograph: Look, die Bildagentur der Fotografen/Alamy

The cooler eastern provinces of Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri are home to lazy rivers, rubber plantations, rolling hills, forested mountains, impressive waterfalls and endangered wildlife.

Kompong Cham and Kratie
The provincial capital, Kompong Cham, is on the Mekong and 75 miles northeast of Phnom Penh, is an easy bus ride (2½ hours, around £3) from the capital. It makes for a relaxing stop for a riverside walk, a bike ride over a bamboo bridge to Koh Paen island, or a sunset cruise (£6).

Most travellers make a beeline for Kratie by bus (three hours from Kompong Cham, £3; five hours from Phnom Penh, £7), also located on the Mekong. Stay at friendly Le Tonlé Tourism Training Center (doubles from $10) in Kratie, which trains underprivileged youths, or a traditional Khmer timber house at Rajabori Villas (doubles from $60) on idyllic Koh Trong island, home to a Vietnamese floating village.

Rich in French colonial architecture, Kratie is a pleasant place to kick back. The main attraction, however, is the endangered freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins that can be seen 10 miles north of town. Take a moto (£3) or remork (£6), then a boat (£5).

Stung Treng and Ban Lung
Two and a half hours from Kratie by bus, Stung Treng is another laidback riverside town that makes a good base for seeing the Irrawaddy dolphins from the villages of O’Svay and Preah Rumkel, where wetlands are rich in birdlife.

A further two and half hours away by bus, Ban Lung is a base for various activities, including kayaking, mountain biking, trekking in Virachey national park to see some of Cambodia’s last remaining virgin forest, visits to ethnic minority villages, and swimming at Boeng Yeak Lom, a vivid blue crater lake.

You can walk through the forest with elephants at the Elephant Valley Project (full day $85, including transport and lunch), which adopts mistreated Asian elephants, or do an overnight trek to see wild, rare northern yellow-cheeked gibbons in the Veun Sai-Pang Conservation Area with from £$199 per person.

Set in luxuriant gardens, lakeside Terres Rouges Lodge (doubles from $58) is furnished with Cambodian antiques; while budget-friendly Treetop Ecolodge (doubles $12) has rustic bungalows and sweeping valley vistas. The Vietnam border is two hours by mini-bus from Ban Lung ,or it’s an 11-hour bus ride back to Phnom Penh.

Beaches and islands

The island of Koh Rong, southern Cambodia.
Photograph: Jack Malipan Travel Photography/Alamy

Cambodia’s sleepy south coast is skirted by pristine sandy beaches shaded by coconut palms and casuarinas, while off shore there are blissfully undeveloped islands. See our Top 10 beach hotels and bungalows in Cambodia for places to stay, from stylish resorts to rustic bungalows.

Sihanoukville and islands
Four hours from Phnom Penh by bus, Sihanoukville is the largest and most developed town, which is why you should make a beeline for Ream national park, 10 miles east, for jungle walks, mountain treks, mango cruises, birdwatching, dolphin spotting (from December to April), and snorkelling on the islands of Koh Thmei and Koh Seh.

Of Sihanoukville’s beaches, busy Occheuteal boasts laidback bars; Serendipity is more mellow and romantic, though transforms into party central at night; and Otres is the most relaxed. If you’re looking to do more than work on your tan, there’s sailing, diving, snorkelling, kitesurfing, windsurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and surfing (Otres, from May to October).

Kampot and Kep

From Sihanoukville, mini buses regularly trundle east to atmospheric riverside Kampot (1½ hours), best known for producing the world’s best pepper. In the old French Quarter, check into La Java Bleue (doubles from $55) in a colonial building with balconies; Rikitkitavi (doubles from $48) in a renovated barn on River Road; or The Columns (doubles from $45) in a row of charming shop-houses.

After taking in the colonial architecture and ambling along the waterfront, take an excursion to Bokor national park and its eerie abandoned French hill station (entry £9, tours from £15), cave temples in the limestone hills of Phnom Chhnork and Phnom Sorsia, and a pepper farm. Starling Farm, an organic pepper plantation, has beautiful wooden villas and bungalows at their new Starling Ridge Plantation Resort http://starlingridge.com (from $30) .

With little else to do other than soak up the sun and feast on fresh seafood at the crab market, seaside Kep, on a peninsula 45 minutes from Kampot, is the perfect spot to end a trip to Cambodia. A retreat for French colonials in the early 20th century and a playground for Cambodia’s royalty and rich in the 1960s, the area is dotted with faded shells of modernist villas, abandoned when the Khmer Rouge arrived. Offshore, Koh Tonsay or Rabbit Island (25 minutes; public boat from £8, private boat from £18) has empty beaches and excellent snorkelling. Inland, lofty Kep national park has trails to hike and bike.

If a hillside resort with pool and panoramic ocean views appeals, try the highest, Le Bout du Monde (doubles from $45), which has stone and timber Khmer-style villas with verandas and hammocks, while The Vine Retreat (doubles from $35), an on organic farm, offers yoga, meditation, free bicycles and tours to a weaving centre. Back down by the water, don’t miss sundowners overlooking the sea at the Sailing Club.

From Kep, there are buses to the Vietnamese border and the riverside town of Ha Tien (1½ hours), part of a special economic zone, allowing visa-free travel for 15 days. If you want to ventrue further into Vietnam you need to return to Phonm Penh (buses to Ho Chi Minh Cit, five hours, £10). .

Article source: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/oct/28/-sp-cambodia-tour-two-weeks-holiday-itinerary