Back in Cornwall after a much needed January adventure to South East Asia. It was my first experience of this corner of the world and I've returned with some lasting memories, hundreds of photos and a fairly non-existent tan. We travelled through some stunning landscapes and had the opportunity to spend the night in a treehouse in a beautiful uninhabited valley in the jungles of Laos. Alongside the beauty of the landscape and warmth of the people there were also countless human and environmental tragedies impossible to overlook.
Visiting the Cambodian land mine museum, which works towards clearing the thousands of land mines that still litter the land was both heartbreaking and enlightening. There is a real feeling of rapid change in this part of the world. The social and economic developments of Cambodia and Laos can't come too soon, but hopefully not at the cost of the environment. Having travelled through beautiful, ancient jungle forests where the trees can reach over a hundred feet and are home to hundreds of species of plants and animals, it was heartbreaking to then drive for hours along the Cambodia/ Laos border through acres of blackened, smouldering burning trees. These flattened areas of dead forests were then followed by vast plantations of mono crops (mostly palm) stretching on into the far distance. It left me with a lump in my throat and an urge to learn more about how to protect these important natural habitats.