Adventures in The Wild

Our Re:link consultants are an impressive group. Not only do they have exceptional professional experience, but many of them also have adventurous spirits!

After finishing their most recent Re:link assignments, two of our brilliant Re:link consultants went off in search of adventure. Below, Michelle and Diana, share stories from their recent travels.

Mount Kilimanjaro – Diana Khew

I am a keen traveller and tend to plan my bigger trips around my legal contract end dates. This presents an exciting surprise element as they could be at any time of the year. With 31 January as the end date for my most recent Re:link contract, I (child of the tropics with little love for the cold) had only the southern hemisphere of the globe to choose from and the African continent remains my least visited…

My research for this trip had begun in November last year. I had decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as I rather appreciated the short-term project it presented; I would have to hit a gym to work towards this, rather than hibernate over winter and do little beyond yoga. The end goal of the Kilimanjaro summit was alluring. My travels bring me much satisfaction, but could this even be a personal achievement?

One can try hard to prepare, but the trip would still prove to be a physical and mental challenge. I have previously done the Inca trail to Machu Picchu (3 days sans shower) and trekked in Nepal (5 days), but Kilimanjaro has been far more gruelling (8 days!). Higher altitudes, ever changing and more extreme weather conditions, different terrains, challenging gradients (surprisingly, our legs only started protesting to the 2 days’ descent)…It felt like a never-ending climb. There is only so much chatting we can do going uphill on lower oxygen levels, such that much of it is spent in a meditative state. My mantra was Nietzsche’s “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. And my faithful Re:link bag joined me for the final ascent, carrying my balaclava, Yaktrax and a further pair of gloves.

I was the most exhausted I have ever been in my entire life after the climb, having also hardly slept for the 8 nights in a tent. I proceeded to put my feet up in Zanzibar, but the first thing I shall do when I am home (after the laundry), is to look for my next legal role!

Signs and traveller

ESG Off Grid – Michelle Witton

Sitting in a forest hut, slicing a machete through a melon for an elephant’s breakfast, I was a long way from my laptop. Fascinating though it is to help companies transition to ESG, my day-to-day had become a mountain of metrics. Challenged to find passion for spreadsheets, I realised that I needed to connect with the land and nature - to have more ‘lived experiences’ – to see first-hand why corporate adoption of ESG is crucial. 

Fast-forward to mid-January 2024, Siem Reap, Cambodia, and elephant breakfast-making at Kulen Elephant Forest. Kulen Sanctuary is a shining example of a business pivoting to eco-tourism. In response to tourist concerns, the use of elephants to transport visitors around Ankor Wat stopped in 2019 (regrettably only then!)

At Kulen Forest, ten elephants now graze amid dense groves of trees and vines. The business now offers small group “Walking With Elephants” experiences. It was magical learning about these graceful, curious giants, watching them forage and bathe. The sanctuary is now a major local employer, providing work to tourist guides, caterers, and elephant-carers.

My next animal encounter involved cuddling a rat. An African Giant Pouch Rat, to be precise. These amazing animals, with their highly accurate sense of smell, are key to Cambodia’s de-mining strategy. Belgian demining NGO, APOPO, discovered the rats are uniquely gifted at smelling minute quantities of explosives. They can survey and clear land the size of a tennis court in thirty minutes. The same task takes a human using a metal-detector, 4 days.

Long after a conflict has ceased, landmines still kill, maim and render arable land useless. They continue to be a potent risk in sixty countries. It’s a credit to APOPO's expertise, that no humans or rats have been injured in their 7 years in Cambodia.

An avid hobby-archaeologist, my next adventure was heading north to explore Koh Ker, capital of the Khmer Empire from 928-941 AD. Koh Ker was admitted to Cambodia's UNESCO-listed sites only recently, on 17 September, 2023. Giant sculptures of characters from the Indian epics once decorated the site’s sanctuaries but were looted during the Khmer Rouge's bloody reign. UNESCO recognition now ensures greater protection and funding for research, restoration and sustainable tourism. 

Despite all the amazing things I have seen, my most vivid memories from my travels are of the people I met including energetic, ambitious university students working two jobs alongside their studies. Hotel manager, Kimyan, shared with me her passion for her second job in energy renewables. These people are Cambodia’s future. It is they – and hundreds of thousands just like them – who need ESG to achieve Cambodia’s deservedly bright future.

Adventures in the Wild 2

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