Today is Small Business Saturday, the day following the largest shopping day in America. Even prior to starting my own handbag business I always tried to support small enterprises, those with the courage, passion and drive to start a venture of their own. One such Paris-based, chic, eco-conscious scarf company I recently learned about is Krama Heritage. Here’s a little background.
The Krama, which has been traditionally worn in Cambodia for centuries, is the Khmers’ belonging sign and a very useful scarf in their everyday life. For us, it’s the best way to develop a social project in Cambodia: all our Kramas are woven by a cooperative of weavers in fair trade conditions and, for each Krama purchased, we hand out €3 to the Non Governmental Organization Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (For a Child’s Smile).
Launched 11 months ago, these unisex scarves are making a statement around the world. I share one with my Italian, and each time he or I wear it I think of Cambodia and it’s people. Having been to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh during my travels, and meeting the locals, I know how greatly such a business can benefit it’s people. Bravo to Krama Heritage for thinking globally and acting locally!
On our recent trip to Bruges, a little piece of Cambodia proudly accompanied us.
Today marks five years since my adventures around the world took flight. Still, it feels like yesterday. Sitting aboard a plane, tipsy from sake and high from anticipation, having just bid farewell to dear friends and family after several days of revelry at Miami’s Art Basel. I was about to embark on a journey of 13 months and countless experiences. First stop Buenos Aires. I often reflect upon those days, particularly when I’m not feeling inspired (even amidst the beauty of Paris), and find myself reliving these scenes… eternally grateful to call them my experiences.
Exploring Machu Picchu beneath a misty sky.
Bathing on the remote island of Fernando de Naronha in Brazil.
Sky-diving over the majestic landscape of Queenstown, New Zealand.
Driving along Great Ocean Road in Australia.
Admiring Jodhpur, the magnificent 'Blue City' of Rajasthan, India.
Catching a glimpse of the Taj Mahal.
A spiritual moment at the temple of Ta Prohm in Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
Becoming fashionable in the city of tailors, Hoi An, Vietnam.
Two days floating on a junk boat in Halong Bay.
Meditating upon the Mekong in Luang Prabang, Laos.
Exlporing the rice fields of Ubud, Indonesia by motor bike.
Inhaling the grand view of Hong Kong.
Driving through the landscape near Lhasa, Tibet.
Climbing the Great Wall of China.
Finding tranquility amidst The Golden Pavilion of the Rokuon-Ji Temple in Kyoto.
A sunrise hot-air ballon ride over Cappadocia, Turkey.
What are your most cherished experiences? (Have you lived them yet?)
The devastation that met so many Cambodians in the years of the Khmer Rouge’s rule is unthinkable. A day frought with emotion and much sadness as I visited the Tuol Sleng Museum, once the Tuol Svay Prey High School, turned Security Prison 21, the largest center of detention and torture in the country. The spaces where so many innocent lives were lost, chambers with rusty beds, wooden cells in which there was room only for grief. The survivors of this prison were taken to the killing fields of Cheoung Ek, which became the memorial of these 17,000 men, women and children who were so wrongfully executed. 129 mass graves, sights of a dark and somber past that will remain with me as I journey through history.
My favorite of the temples is Ta Prohm, set in a tangle of trees, creating a mood of romance. Rightfully so, the King dedicated the temple to his mother. The light was perfect as it shone on this temple that was left in it’s natural state of collapse, in my view quite a beautiful state. I could have easily spent another week lost amidst the temples that create this ancient Angkor Kingdom, there are so many! Each one unique in it’s grandeur.
At the center of Angkor Thom lies the Bayon, one of the most enigmatic and religious constructions in the world. It is composed of a mass of face-towers which form what appear to be mountain peaks. Most of the 37 remaining towers are carved with 4 faces. I was immersed in a world of Angkor eyes peering at me from every angle…wonderfully eerie!
Angkor Wat is the grandest and most sublime of all the Khmer temples. It was built in the 12th century, both as the capital and the State Temple dedicated to Vishnu. This is the first of many temples I explored in this monumental region of Angkor, many of which are composed of the two major features of Khmer architecture: a pyramid and concentric galleries. The visions of this Hindu universe are overwhelming!
I have arrived to Siem Reap, a city which feels much like a village, slowly making strides towards modernity. Cambodia is a country that is only now recovering from a devastating past due to the genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge. I experienced one of the most intense days of this journey, beginning with a morning spent in a floating village in which the houses, schools and shops all float in the muddy waters of the Tonle Sap river. It was incredible to observe an entire life that is only accessible by boat. Children played in buckets or lay in the hammocks, as parents busied themselves with chores. I felt slightly obtrusive looking so closely into the intimate spaces of these local people. Yet it was immeasurably fascinating.
Following the floating village I sought refuge from the extreme heat and entered the world of the Angkor temples…