Motivating reviews

Some days ago two lovely German guests made us aware of that Babel Guesthouse is pointed out first on the list of Hotels that support Social projects and Responsible Tourism in the german guide book Stefan Loose – South East Asia. The description of Babel is as follows:

The norwegian management are committed to Responsible Tourism. Great garden with wicker chairs, sofas and cozy TV area for the guests. The rooms are simple, clean and nicely decorated. Many 3bed rooms”. Stefan LooseIn Stefan Loose for only Cambodia, we are upmarked in the corner of the page over Guesthouses in Siem Reap, and described as “the guesthouse that has it all”. The description about Babel in this guide book is:

In this western owned Guesthouse breakfast is included in the price. It is situated in a quiet street and has spacious, clean rooms with AC and hotwater shower, with bathtub. Restaurant and Bar, relaxing opportunities in a lush garden with great staff”!

Lately we have gotten many great reviews on TripAdvisor aswell. We are SO extremely thankful for all these review!! They give us so much motivation to keep on working the way we do here at Babel! Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 14.06.41

These reviews, and all the feedback we dayly get from our wonderful guests makes us wanna work even harder, with all our hearts! A big THANKS, all of this is very motivating, and it makes us soooo happy!!Babel Guesthouse staff

This weeks special in Babel – FIVE STAR Guest Chef!!

Tomorrow (friday the 19th of February) we are so lucky to get a visit from our former “five star-chef “at Babel, Mr. Bora Oeun. He will do training for our kitchen staff, and introduce three new dishes for our guests – THIS WEEKS SPECIALS! Here he is in our kitchen, discussing the different dishes. IMG_9905Bora Oeun was part of the Babel Guesthouse team for almost two years. He really lifted our kitchen to a higher level. Bora came from the five star Hotel Sokha in Siem Reap, and we soon learned that not only was he “just” a good chef, he was also very passionate about food, and a really REALLY talented young man. When Bora came to Babel, he was not used to speak english with foreigners. Through our Education Program we sponsored him with english classes in ACE-school. His english improved quickly.

The aim of Babel Education Program is to provide our staff with education, so they can follow their dreams – being promoted within Babel, or move on to higher positions elsewhere. This way we can hire new staff, and provide them with education too. Last year Bora was offered a high position in Sokha Hotel, Phnom Penh. So he followed his dreams, and now he is a respected Chef in this new five star hotel. This is from when we visited him last year in Phnom Penh:Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 17.50.07We are lucky to also have Boras sister with us in our team. She is in the picture above. He taught both his sister and our wonderful cook Sopha a LOT in the kithcen. On board now, we have Bora´s good friend from Sala Bai Hotel school, Mr Kia.

We already tried one of the dishes, and it was delicious! So… we are all super excited about tomorrow! Come over to Babel tomorrow night, and have a look at the menu of the new THIS WEEKS SPECIAL. And TRY one!

Responsible Tourism Course at Babel Guesthouse

This week we are having another Resposible Tourism Course again here in Babel Guesthouse. This time it will be held for the Norwegian employees at Soria Moria Boutique Hotel, Richard Eide Sundal and Gina Svartor.

Three years ago, Soria Moria and Quality Hotel Expo, Fornebu, Norway joined forces and initiated an employee exchange program: Cambodia – Norway Exchange for Sustainable Tourism.

Each year 2 employees from Soria Moria will be able to spend 12 months working in Quality Hotel Expo, while 2 employees from Quality Hotel Expo will spend 12 months working in Soria Moria Boutique Hotel.

Richard Eide Sundal has background as a chef in Norways finest gourmet restaurant, with two stars in the Michelinguide. He has also competed in prestigious contests around in Norway. Now he is a chef at Soria Moria, helping to improve the kitchen – to suit western standards. Gina Svartor studied Marketing at Lillehammer University College, and worked at both Clarion Collection Hammer Hotel and Quality Expo Oslo. In Soria Moria she is now in charge of sales and marketing. Gina og RichardThe first day we will spend all day with a non-for-profil social enterprice called ConCERT. They do training to help people help – the right way! Both Babel Guesthouse and Soria Moria are certified by ConCERT, our staff received training through them.

The second day we will do a presentation here at Babel guesthouse, about backsides of tourism. We will discuss the phenomenon “orphan tourism” and other scams going on, not only here in Siem Reap, but in third world countries all over the planet. They will learn more about both Babel Education Program and Soria Moria´s Educational Development Program, and learn about the different Universities and schools we work with.

Here is a little video that describes Babel Education Program:

Next on the program is a presentation by Amy McLoughlin about PEPY tours. PEPY Tours has received recognition at several prestigious responsible tourism awards because of their great work with offering educational “eye-opening” tours – that makes a difference.

Amy McLoughlin is a sustainable tourism adviser, and she is one of the founders of Ayana Journeys. (the groud manager of all PEPY Tours experiences in Cambodia). We are very much looking forward to hear all about Ayana´s philosophy and all their different tours and educational adventures. Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 21.18.33

After lunch we are visiting the luxury hotels Shinta Mani Resort & Heritage Suites. Both Hotels have many similarities with Babel Guesthouse and Soria Moria in terms of how we work with responsible tourism and environmental initiatives. For example, like Babel and Soria Moria, both Shinta Mani and Heritage have good cooperations with Sala Bai Hotel School. Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 20.31.29The third day we will start with a presentation by Michelle Morin, the founder of Possibilities world. Possibilities world is an international consulting company dedicated to bringing innovative training sollutions, organizational effectiveness strategies, and leadership development to the public, private and non-profit sectors.

The last presentation is by Daniel Astbury, Marketing and Sales Advisor at Friends International. Friends International is a leading social enterprise saving lives and building futures of the most marginalized children & youth, their families and their communities in South East Asia and across the world.

In Cambodia Friends International has several different projects to help protect Children. For example, ChildSafeMovement initiative offers training for Tuk Tuk drivers, staff at hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, cafees and tour companies – in Child Safe Policy. They do campaigns to create awareness for not only tourists and expats, but also for Cambodian families all over the country.Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 20.49.48Both Babel Guesthouse and Soria Moria are proud to be Child Safe certified. Every year we receive new training from Child Safe. Last year, in addition to our 14 staff at Babel, all our 14 Tuk Tuk drivers also received training and are now Child Safe certified.DCIM100GOPROG0351727.We at Babel Guesthouse are very passionate about spreading the word about Responsible Tourism, so we are very much looking forward to this little introduction course next week! We are excited!

Here is a little video from our month course in Responsible Tourism at Babel:

 

 

Dreamcatchers for our Tuk Tuk drivers

For us in Babel Guesthouse, the dreamcatcher symbolize “follow your dreams”! Trough our own Fund Solhaugfond, we sponsor not only our staff with education, but also some of our Tuk Tuk drivers. This helps them follow their dreams!

To build up a country like Cambodia, EDUCATION IS THE KEY! Chat, Pert and Ratha now attend ACE-school, and are doing great progress. Kosal is sponsored to the University of South East Asia, doing a Bacelor Degree in Tourism. We hope that one day we can also assure the Tuk Tuk drivers children a good future through education. So we are very thankful for all the support we receive in our Fund!

Yesterday we had a Tuk Tuk driver meeting, to talk about the Tours, prices and get updates on whats new in town. After the meeting all the Tuk Tuk drivers got their own dreamcatcher to hang in their Tuk Tuk.Tuk Tuk drivers in Babel

Here is a little video of our work with Babel Education Program:

THE STORY OF THE DREAM CATCHERS IN BABEL!

Dream catchers have their origin in Latin America. The traditional dream catcher was intended to protect the sleeping individual from negative dreams, while letting positive dreams through. The positive dreams would slip through the hole in the center of the dream catcher, and glide down the feathers to the sleeping person below. The negative dreams would get caught up in the web, and expire when the first rays of the sun struck them.

Dreamcatchers in Babel Guesthouse

Katrine´s story: Dream catchers have always fascinated me. I bought my first dream catcher-earrings in Mexico, on my first romantic trip with Simen. Since then we travelled many years, trying to find new dream catchers in every country we travelled to. In 2008, on a trip to The Philippines, we got to know a Pilipino “tribe”. One of the men was wearing a dream catcher around his ankle. I told him I though that was really cool. He told me: “I wear it on my foot because I always follow my dreams”. Ever since then, for me the dream catcher has been symbolizing “FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS”.

In 2009 I stayed a couple of years in Norway to work and save up enough money to start “Globalstudies”. I am a social worker, and I work with troubled youth. The job can sometimes be very tough. I had to go through a lot of fights, both physically and mentally. After one of the toughest evenings I ever had at work, fighting with two youths at the same time, I went for a drive. It was a very rainy and windy evening. Everything was grey outside, just like I felt inside. I had not yet any co-operationship with a University to actually start Globalstudies, I was questioning if it would ever work and I felt very lost. I cried and cried. All of the sudden I saw this little “boho, gypsy, hippie” kind of shop. In the window this big, very beautiful dream catcher was hanging. I immediately stopped the car, walked right in and bought this dream catcher. I said to myself, this is a reminder – I have to keep following my dreams. One day, I will have a guesthouse where this dream catcher will be hanging, and it will be surrounded by guests and Globalstudies students. – This dream catcher is now hanging inside the bar of Babel. I tell this story every time we have Globalstudies students or other big groups here – to encourage them to follow their dreams.

Many of the dream catchers in the garden are from the Philippines. I went back to the Philippines and bought them. We also got dream catchers as gifts from guests. But most of the dream catchers you see in Babel, we made ourselves.Katrine Solhaug and her dreamcathchers at Babel GuesthouseOn Babel Guesthouse´s staff trip to Sihanoukville in 2013, we had teambuilding; all the staff had to make one dream catcher each. This was to symbolize that, by having the opportunity to study; they can also follow their dreams. We collected shell from the beach, and everyone made his or her own dream catcher with what we found. We also made a big dream catcher, and then we sew all the small ones that all the staff made into the net of the big one. This is now hanging over the reception of Babel!Babel Educational Stafftrip 2013

Child Safe Certificates

Every year we have Child Safe training in Babel. This year we also included all our Tuk Tuk drivers in the training, so now all our staff and all our Tuk Tuk drivers are Child Safe certificated. Makes us very proud! Child Safe Certificated.jpg Child Safe had a special focus on their campaign about “the Milk Scam”. The scam is run by some beggars in the city center. Instead of asking for money they ask tourists to buy powdered milk for their child. In the scam, the shop selling the milk are ‘in’ on this, and the milk is sold back to them by the beggar , so both the beggar and the business make money from the unsuspecting tourist.  A serious concern of many is that the babies involved in this scam appear to be drugged to make the situation look bad and generate more sympathy (and a sale) from the tourists. More info HERE! We at Babel have brochures in our front office, but also inside every room, warning our guests about this Scam.

At the moment, from december last year till februrary, there is an exhibition in Long´s Bar (Pub Street area), demonstrating the negative impact of giving money to begging children. FullSizeRenderSo for all of you readers, THINK before giving money to begging Children. Learn more on Child Safes webpage – Together, protecting Children!

Babel Education Program – 2015

A year has passed, time to sum up everything we have been working with during the year. Its been a very exiting year! But first, a Christmas photo from all of us at Babel! IMG_6366.jpgBecause of donations in our Fund, we can sponsor all these people with higher education! Without this support they wouldnt have had the opportunity to study, so THANK YOU to all of you who have donated money to our program. Its really exciting to be here and see each of them develop, and what impact the studies has on their lives.

This is the last year of a Bachelor degree for Eath, Peasey and Sophea. Not so many Cambodians get the opportunity to take a degree in anything, so we are very proud! Babels first girl that studies at Build Bright University, Chan Hov, is now on her second year of a Bachelor degree. She also just got engaged with our Tuk Tuk driver, Mr. Kosal, who we also sponsor through our Fund. He is on his third year of a Bachelor degree at the University of South East Asia.

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We have also sponsored 12 of our staff and Tuk Tuk drivers with english classes at ACE school. We receive the results and comments from their teachers, and we get good feedbacks. They all make progress with their english, getting better and better each month. The housekeeping staff also teach english to friends and family in the countryside, that way they also help making a difference.

Also during this year we have had a foot operation with Peaseys Dad. He has been back and forth from the countryside to a clininc here in Siem Reap, and during this year of rehabilitation, he now can actually walk again. Its fantastic. Here the whole family is visiting us here at Babel. Peaseys Dad is number three from the left.

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Katrines Dad, one of the main sponsors of our Education program, had visitors from Norway, Gunnvor Kirkesjord and May Britt Odden. They went to visit Peaseys family in the countryside, which resulted in a sponsorship for Peaseys niese. She is now starting to speak english, she is a very good student. Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 12.40.04We have also been a lot back and forth to Phnom Penh with Saruns brother, Kreum. We have to do a surgery for him to get new eardrums. Now he a has a lot of headache, he feels dizzy all the time, he has problems consentrating and he big problems sleeping. He also had an infection that needed to be healed before the surgery. In February 2016 we are finally doing the opration, with a doctor from the UK. Cant wait to get this overwith. Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 12.01.12Its tought to see that these kind of things, things that we take for granted in the westen world, are big problems in Cambodia. But its nice to be able to make a difference, at least for some people! Maybe something to reflect a little bit on, especially now around Christmas.

We also made a little video, during the year, to sum up a bit what we have been through this year.

On Christmas eve, we got a really nice article in a Norwegian newspaper, about Babel, and our work here with Responsible Tourism. Nice Christmas gift for us 😀 IMG_6791

Norwegian Christmas dinner at Babel Guesthouse

Only three more days till our Christmas tradition in Babel – big Norwegian Christmas dinner with live music! We are excited!!Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 10.47.25PinnekjøttScreen Shot 2015-12-21 at 10.51.51

Children under 4 is free of charge, and children under 12 is half price.

We have a Norwegian Chef with us this day, Richard Eide Sundal. He worked in Norways finest gourmet restaurant, with two stars in the Michelinguide. He has also competed in prestigious contests around in Norway. We are very very lucky to get the opportunity to have this high quality food for Christmas here in Cambodia. Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 10.54.56Welcome!