Monday, 16 May 2016

Globe Wandering: Cambodia: Keep Kep Clean, and the Plastic Tide




Today we visited Kep, on the south coast of Cambodia.  It is a quaint seaside town, famous for crabs.  We didn't eat crabs (they were all tiny and we didn't want to support an industry that is unsustainable) but we did wander through the market and buy a kilo of fresh prawns which a lady on the water cooked up for us.




We sat on a concrete wall and ate our prawns and drank a beer and looked out over all the trash...




Seriously you guys, it was ridiculous.  Polystyrene is still a thing here and everyone loves to give it out - both local + foreign business owners.  They will wrap your sandwich in plastic wrap, put it in a polystyrene container, then gice you a carry bag if you let them... And I can tell you, from what I saw today, it all ends up on the beach!

The locals don't seem to mind.  They all swim in the sea and stand ankle deep in the trash and get their pictures taken...

There is a giant crab statue in the sea with last year's motto "Kep Kep clean 2015" sprawled across it.  But I guess it's 2016 now and no one much cares about the keeping clean part anymore... 

I spent a good chunk of our walk back to town from the markets thinking about all the rubbish and wondering if Australia was the same before campaigns like "do the right thing" happened in the 80s and the government actually decided to fine people for littering because nothing else would get folks to stop throwing bottles and wrappers straight out the car window... But a country like Australia has so much more space and fewer people and so you just can't compare...

I looked at the plastic tide and felt hopeless.

And then we saw a girl on the beach filling a big garbage bag with plastic.  My heart swelled right up because there she was, all alone, barely putting a dent in the masses of rubbish that surrounded her, but she was picking it up anyway.  So down we went and helped her fill her bad and then another and another until a big green bin was full and several bags besides.  What a legend.  Thank you, beautiful soul, whose name I don't know, for giving me hope.



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