American-based non-profit organisation, Cambodian Child’s Dream, founded in February 2009, is cooperating with local authorities to develop an area of natural beauty in the Bakong district.
Trav Kod, a large lake covering 65 hectares, is 28 kilometres north-east of Siem Reap with a breathtaking view of the Kulen Mountain range. It is being earmarked as an eco-tourism destination to help economic development in remote areas.
Ou Panha, director of Cambodian Child's Dream, told Insider that the lake is an ideal place for picnicking, camping, or to just hang out and enjoy the fresh air and views.
“It’s the newest development and a beautiful place where you can entertain yourself and your family by fishing, rowing a boat, swimming and other interesting activities that are similar to the West Baray Resort,” he said. “If you just stand in front of the lake, you certainly can see the fantastic natural views of the Kulen mountain range.”
He believes that this eco-tourism site will improve the economy in the locality as villagers can also make interesting handicraft products to sell to visiting tourists.
“We have developed some parts of the lake to make it look more beautiful, and this eco-tourism site could create job opportunities for villagers,” he said.
Panha added that previously hundreds of villagers from this rural area had to leave their homes for jobs at the Cambodian-Thai border to support their families. “That makes their life very difficult,” he said, “Because they have to leave their family and be away working for at least a month at a time.
“The aim of our project is to educate villagers to love their environment and take care of their own natural resources in their district, to plant more trees and vegetables, feed animals, and learn how to cook tasty foods with high hygienic standards for visitors.”
He believes that more than a thousand villagers living in the area can increase their income by selling foods, cakes, fruits, drinks and souvenirs to tourists who visit the rural resort.
But the eco-tourism site doesn’t yet have an electricity supply, with villagers using a solar system, and no home-stays have yet been established.
“It is hard for people who wish to be a part of his eco-tourism development,” Panha sighed. “Some people from Phnom Penh wanted to help by building home-stays, but because there is o electricity they decided not to go ahead.”
But after a few months of introducing tourists to the Trav Kod resort and explaining aspects of the project to villagers, Panha said that he could see that the percentage of work migration to the border from this district decreased by almost 30 percent.
“They understand about what we did and what we are going to do, so they came back to their homes and started to learn about agriculture. Also we have explained to them that what tourists wish to see is them going about their daily activities,” he said.
Along the road to the Trav Kod resort, visitors can now also buy many local village products such as fruits, palm juice, palm sugar plus food such as cakes, grilled chicken, beverages, and Cambodian traditional noodles.
For any information about the community eco-tourism at Trav Kod, please contact 012 273 213 and 012 899 363.