By Cheryse Forrest.
I’ve spent the last three months travelling and exploring South East Asia. Throughout this time I have visited Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and finally finishing my journey in Cambodia where I could safely say “I feel at home.”
The past five weeks I have spent in Cambodia, primarily in Siem Reap, have enabled me to gain a true understanding of the attitudes and beliefs held by many locals I have been fortunate enough to meet. Their respect and appreciation for one another, for their family, for new friends and for the sacrifices of their ancestors, is an act that truly goes beyond words.
Upon these experiences I’ve had the pleasure of seeing first hand many local artisans create amazing goods from raw materials, which of course are sourced locally. The tireless hours they put in, which are clearly evident through the attention to detail, make it all the more rewarding when shopping for unique creations.
What then truly stuck out were the excessive amount of cheap, manufactured products flooding the markets in and around the city’s centre. The quality of these products seemed poor and stood in far comparison to the handmade natural fibre baskets, ceramics and canvas paintings I’ve seen created in front of my very own eyes.
It’s clearly obvious these products are produced in foreign manufacturing plants, so why are so many people still purchasing these goods? Wouldn’t it be ideal to keep the money within this country and within their economy, boosting the livelihood of the Khmer people and actively taking part in making a difference for a greater cause?