Tuesday
Jul292014

Volunteer blog: Ben Harris

My First Week With Frontier

Monday - We met with Jenn at the Golden Lions Roundabout in Sihanoukville.  We traveled by bus and boat to Koh Rong Samloem and the village of M’Pai Bai.  We made our way to the Frontier House and our home for the next fortnight.  We got all the health and safety tests done and were now officially a part of the project.  

Tuesday - This was lecture day.  We had all the lectures about what the surveys would be for, coastal hazards, different fish species, and conservation already happening in Cambodia.  The afternoon was spent learning the first set of fish for a test that would happen the following morning.  

Wednesday - The first set of fish identification tests were done in the morning and by 12, both had been passed.  We then had a beach clean, the final set of fish to learn and the last test in the afternoon.  The evening was spent at a barbeque which was really good fun!

Thursday - We had one final test of all the fish sets together and then the afternoon comprised of spot-tests, identifying the fish underwater.  

Friday - This was a day full of spot-tests, some in the morning and some in the afternoon.  I’m starting to get the hang of identifying fish that won’t hold still for a proper look!

Saturday - The visibility was poor in the water today, so no spot-tests could be done.  We did more fish studying from books and the ID cards instead.  

Sunday - The visibility and weather were worse then the previous day making spot tests impossible.  Instead, we spent the day in hammocks in the porch reading and listening to music.  Not a bad way to pass the time!

By Ben Harris, Marine Research Assistant

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Friday
Jul252014

Daily snapshots

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

 

 

 

Tuesday
Jul152014

Volunteer Blog: Naomi Dixon

After a 13-hour overnight bus from Siem Reap, a 3-hour slow boat and an hour being thrown around by the waves in a long tail, I finally reached Koh Rong Samloem.  The marathon journey was all made worthwhile as I was greeted by Jenn, Toi (local staff), the other volunteers and a litter of puppies to play with!  Even though home for the next week involved no running water or control over our electricity, it didn’t matter when you are only a few steps from the sandy beach.    

 

After some training and learning the coral reef invertebrate species, I was ready to hit the water and begin to understand why marine conservation here is so important.  Aside from snorkeling, it was also great to visit the island’s primary school to teach the locals from a young age to keep their beaches and ocean clean.  I wish I could have stayed longer to contribute more to the project here with Frontier.  7 days flies by, but I felt so at home here by the first night.  But hopefully, I will be back again someday and the island will be busting with even more marine life. 

By Naomi Dixon, Volunteer Assistant Research Officer

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Tuesday
Jul152014

PI blog: Plenty of entertainment

After a quiet start to rainy season, it was great to have new volunteers arriving on site again!  Ben, Henry and I met up in Sihanoukville, where I was able to catch a bit of the World Cup before we jumped on a ferry and headed back to M’Pai Bai.  As the village doesn’t have television or internet, I likely won’t catch anymore games until the final.  Luckily, the village offers plenty of other forms of evening entertainment to keep us busy:  night swims in glowing plankton, watching shooting stars from the pier, and Cambodian Karaoke to name a few.  On Wednesday night, we all cleaned ourselves up for the village’s newest social event, BBQ Night at Sunset.  Many of the people living in town showed up, as well as volunteers and staff from a neighboring project.  Everyone had a great time, and while it was the first time that Sunset has held a big BBQ party, I doubt it will be the last!

By Jenn Reitz, Principal Investigator

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Tuesday
Jul152014

PI Blog: Environmental Awareness Day

After slowing introducing the ideas of waste management to the children at the M’Pai Bai Primary School, we are now trying to expand our classroom activities to reach a wider audience and make more of an impact.  We have been working a lot with art activities, as the kids are so creative and seem to love to paint, color and build projects.  Building off of this, I created a worksheet for the kids to color at school and bring home to their parents.  The picture showed an underwater scene filled with trash and unhappy marine animals, and contained a simple request written both in Khmer and English: Please don’t throw trash in the ocean. 

 

While the kids were happily engaged in working on their projects, I had an idea.   On my last ferry trip to the island, I had seen a lot of people throwing trash over the sides of the boat.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could hang one of the kid’s work up in the ferry where many people could read it?  At the end of the lesson, I asked around to see if anyone did not want their picture, but they were all too excited to take it home to show their parents.  Great news for me - I am hoping that the kids will help me spread the message of how harmful trash can be to our marine environment.  So, next week at school we will be working with the kids to help them design and create a poster to hang on the ferry for many people to see - how exciting!

 By Jenn Reitz, Principal Investigator

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Monday
Jul142014

Environmental Awareness Day July 2014!

The Frontier CMM team organised an Environmental Awareness Day at the island school to promote awareness for how to keep marine ecosystems healthy! The children all got involved with making posters and painting a large mural and lots of fun was had by all!

 

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Jun192014

The Great 'Upcycled' Boat Build

Some great photos of the final raft everyone helped to make :)

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
Jun182014

PI Blog: 10 things I love about M’Pai Bai

1.  The amazing marine life - our village is located adjacent to waters hosting some of Cambodia’s most biodiverse reefs!

2.  The amazing sunrises and sunsets we get to watch on a regular basis.  Absolutely gorgeous!

3.  The kids at the local primary school.  They are so sweet and friendly, and are always excited about the activities that we plan.  

4.  For that matter, everyone in town.  One of the perks of living in a tiny town is getting to know everyone, whether you want to or not.  In this case, I do!  Chatting with everyone as I walk down the only ‘road’ always puts a smile on my face.  

5.  The general beauty of the island.  Not everyone gets to live in paradise.  

6.  Puppies!  The village has a lot of dogs, so there are almost always puppies to play with somewhere.  

7.  Hammocks.  Enough said.  

8.  Learning to speak Khmer - Kn’yum neyeah khmer tik tik.  

9.  Swimming in phosphorescent waters under a black velvet sky filled with stars.  

10. My Frontier family!  The dynamic changes a little bit with each new group of volunteers, but Toi and I are lucky to always host a fun group of people!   

By Jenn Reitz, Principal Investigator

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
Jun112014

PI Blog: Ocean Health is Our Health

The World Oceans Day Festival in M’Pai Bai was a very special day for the village.  We had been working with the children from the local primary school to build a boat for the ‘Upcycled’ boat race out of plastic bottles for the past two weeks, and they were all very excited to participate!  Children and adults from a neighboring village on Koh Rong came over for the event and a few of their teams entered the race as well.  The day kicked off with speeches from all of the invited officials, including the Director General of the Cambodian Fisheries Administration.  Then, some of the local NGOs were invited to give a presentation of their work.  I presented an overview of all the work that Frontier has been doing this year.  To have our work so well received by such important individuals made for an incredibly exciting day!  Then, it was on to the clear highlight of the day, the big race.  To finish off an already fantastic day, Toi and I won the ‘barang’ (foreigner) heat by a LANDSLIDE.  Total domination by Team Frontier!

By Jenn Reitz, Principle Investigator

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Tuesday
Jun102014

More from May

Thanks to Assitant Trail Leader Lucy for sharing these great photos!

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Tuesday
Jun102014

The Great 'Upcycled' Boat Build 

To celebrate World Oceans Day last Sunday the Frontier Cambodia Marine team worked with a local island school to raise awareness for green issues. The kids all took part in helping build a 'upcycled' raft from used plastic bottles.

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
Jun052014

PI Blog: Looking forward to World Oceans Day!

May was a busy month at Frontier’s Cambodia Marine project!  We welcomed the Southeast Asia Ethical trail and trained up a whole new crew of people for surveys.  We were lucky to see the project’s first sea horse, a brand new type of nudibranch, and we spotted a vermiculated rabbit fish on House Reef for the first time!  Out of the water, everyone stayed busy as well.  From ‘exercise hour’ on the pier to volleyball games against the volunteers at MCC, there was never a dull moment on camp.  


Sadly, the trail has moved on for new adventures in Vietnam.  Toi and I wish them well, and are looking forward to the excitement of the World Ocean’s Day festival to be held in M’Pai Bai on June 8th.  We have been helping kids at the local school build a boat out of plastic bottles for the ‘Up-cycled’ boat race, and can’t wait to see how they do! 

By Jenn Reitz, Marine Principal Investigator

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Tuesday
Jun032014

It's a wonderful life

Sand, sea and sunsets :)

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Thursday
May292014

Beach cleans and fish IDs!

Trail volunteers have been busy learning the ways of CMM :)

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Tuesday
May272014

Assistant Trail Leader Blog: Life at the Beach Conservation Camp

Most of the volunteers have been at the beach conservation camp for 2 weeks now, going back to basics and enjoying the simple life! We are in a small village on an island called Koh Rong Samloem – about an hour away from the main land. The lifestyle here is very simplistic, the locals live in shack style homes built on stilts and collect water from the wells – if they’re lucky enough for it to have rained recently! But as per usual, the Frontier gang are keen to get stuck in so we also have been hauling the buckets of water from the wells, eating a basic diet of rice and beans, and chilling in hammocks outside our rustic new home!

Whilst we are here to enjoy the local culture, we also have work to do! The volunteers have been hard at work memorising all the different species of fish, corals and invertebrates that they will need to recognise to conduct the all-important reef surveys. Jenn, the project manager here, has been taking the volunteers out to the reef one at a time to do their spot tests… slightly nerve wracking but after lots of hard work the volunteers are passing with flying colours!

With no internet, and electricity for just 3 hours a day, the volunteers have had to find new ways of entertaining themselves during work breaks and in the evenings. There is some very competitive ‘hand tennis’ going on, and ‘exercise hour’ is now in place – we all swim to the pier, do some squats and a bit of lunging, then swim back! The locals must think we’re bonkers!

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Tuesday
May272014

Volunteer blog: Toby Butters

Five new additions to the village arrived late last night whilst most of the volunteers were having some crazed doxycycline induced dreams.  Perhaps it is a dream or a nightmare for the number of dogs to suddenly double.  Names have centered on “Games of Thrones” characters; perhaps we will settle on a few Lanisters and a few Starks. 

 

As I lay in a hammock writing this, the volunteers are busy getting on with the jobs of the day.  Beth, a new arrival (she only has two legs, not four), is learning her corals and invertebrates and Charlie is flicking through cards of fish.  Jack is planning ahead and looking through the Vietnam guidebook with the occasional, ‘Hey guys, do you want to see the world’s biggest cave’ or ‘Any of you fancy seeing crocodiles?’

Three other volunteers have headed for the mainland to satisfy their meat cravings.  Now, a ‘See you later, guys’ has just gone up as the girls head off for their first survey having crumpled all their training way ahead of the boys.  

And that’s it from Frontier Beach Camp; plans are underway for Frontier’s Got Talent and a volleyball match against our ultimate island conservation rivals...

Oh, wait, Jenn’s just got the hiccups…. it’s all happening here.  

By Toby Butters, trail volunteer

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
May212014

Volunteer blog: Jack Golding

I’m very much enjoying the slow life of Koh Rong Samloem. I thought no internet in the village would cause withdrawal symptoms but it’s been wonderfully relaxing. Home cooked curries, freshly caught fish and egg fried rice have all been means we’ve been lucky enough to cook ourselves, only thing I’m missing is a good bit of meat. If the mainly rice diet ever gets too much there is a lovely lady in the village who sells waffles or pancakes (seems to be no pattern as to which on a given day) for the equivalent of about 8p.

The sunset bar on the island is the perfect spot to witness the best sunsets of your life, I’m blown away by them every evening, didn’t know the sun could produce so many colors in the sky. The water here goes anywhere from soupy warm to pleasantly cool in the evenings and you are surrounded on all sides by beautiful scenery of islands and trees. Have now completed all the out of water animal identification tests, now to see if I can identify them in the water. Later on when we are further from the full moon I hope to swim with the bioluminescent plankton but in the mean time I’m going to get back to reading my book in a hammock.

By Jack Golding, volunteer

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
May212014

Volunteer blog: Charlotte Knipe

So far I have really enjoyed my time on the island. M’paibai is a lovely village and all the locals are really welcoming to all the volunteers. We are staying in the center of the village, which means we have to live as the locals do. This includes collecting water from the well for every day activities such as cleaning, washing and most importantly cooking. The food is mostly basic, rice, beans, lentils, noodles and veg. although we do have lots of spices and sauces, which makes the meals really good.

So far we have learnt all the fish needed to be identified for the project and are now working on the corals and invertebrates. Once we’ve learnt these we can start the surveys!

Besides the project work there is lots of other things to do on the island, including swimming off the pier, relaxing in the hammock and sunbathing on the beach.  Just watch out for the crabs, which like to run at you when you’re not looking. However, the most amazing experience I have had so far is the night swimming in the bioluminescence. As you swim the plankton light up causing the most beautiful glow all around you. Overall the past two weeks has gone so fast and cannot wait for the rest on the month!

By Charlotte Knipe, volunteer

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Wednesday
May212014

May musings

"To live is the rarest thing in the world, most people just exist." - Oscar Wilde

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

Tuesday
May132014

Volunteer blog: Kelsey Clifton

Looking out towards the island I could see my home for the next month. The white beaches and little civilization, I was ready to get to unpack and get to work. As I walked around our little village I noticed a couple things right off the bat. The village is a tight-nit community that enjoys helping one another out. For example, while I was filling up the bottle with clean water, a young girl was unable to carry both bottles of water, so a neighbour helped her with it. They place the hose directly into your bottle instead of wasting the water, as fresh water here is precious.

Being on an island where clean water is first priority, eating out of a mess kit and not having a cell phone with WIFI reminds me of camping back home in Canada. I like it where you have to ration meals, have fresh water to bathe in and certain foods only once a day. It makes one really appreciate what we all have back home.

It was mentioned to us by our Conservation leader Jen, that when you swim at night you are able to see the plankton. We all jumped on the idea to do it. That night we swam under the clear starry night and waved our arms around as the plankton lit up our bodies. I’m excited to see what else we will be learning this month.

By Kelsey Clifton, trail volunteer

Find out more about the Cambodia Island Beach Conservation project.

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