Global Programs Blog

International Field Placement:
Marializa Kelly (JD '15), Vishnu Law Group, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

T​rip to Kampot

Even though I love the work I am doing at Vishnu, it is important to take a break! I work all week and at least one day each weekend. I had to remind myself that I am immersed in a new culture, and I need to go out and experience it! I decided to go for a weekend to Kampot. Kampot is a city on the preaek teuk chhu river a few hours south of Phnom Penh. Kampot is known for its famous Kampot pepper. This pepper comes from the same vine, but it you can purchase it as green, red, black, or white pepper. Each color has a distinct flavor, and they are delicious! I had Kampot pepper ice cream, and I wish I could bring back tubs of it.

Cambodia Kampot bungalowWhile in Kampot I stayed at Samon Village in a wonderful little bungalow. My room was very simple. It was elevated on bamboo stilts and consisted of one room with a high-powered fan and mosquito net. The best part about Samon Village was the communal deck that overlooked the river. The deck was quite large and covered with lounge chairs. I spent most of my time there reading and ordering $1.75 smoothies.

My stay in Kampot was very enjoyable but the real adventure and cultural immersion was the three-hour bus ride down. Rules of the road and passing lanes are not really a thing in Cambodia. There were some close calls with oncoming traffic when the bus driver tried to pass. Minus some hyperventilating and a few prayers, we got there safe and sound.

On the journey down we drove through some smaller villages and a few garment factories. I saw about twenty truck/trailer hybrids full of women who were leaving their shift at the factory. These truck/trailers are not much bigger than a standard pick-up and were packed full with an average of seventy-five women each. It was a very thought-provoking feeling to see these women who had obviously had a very long day start their ride back home, which for some was an hour or more. I spoke with one of the locals and was told these women typically make $125 per month to support their families. It really makes you think about the state of the labor and employment laws here in Cambodia and in other areas where there are factories.
Cambodia Kampot deck
Cambodia Kampot deck
cambodia ferry
cambodia silk moths
cambodia loom
cambodia loom

I visited a family-run textiles business, five siblings and a mom. They showed me the whole process from cocoons and moths to the beautiful silk they were weaving.

cambodia water festival1
cambodia water festival2
cambodia water festival3

The streets were packed for Bon Om Touk, the Cambodian Water Festival, a three day festival celebrated on the full moon​ in November to ​mark the reversal of the flow between the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. Over 1 million people come into the city on this public holiday for boat races, concerts and giving thanks to the rivers.