Week 7: Defining Infrastructure and Mondulkiri

Week 7, here we go: I’ve continued to work on the infrastructure project I began during Week 6, and I’m still amazed by the immensity and complexity of this project. We are still trying to define our scope, but we’re getting close(r). I’ve spent many hours with csv documents full of project details from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. I’ve filtered, sorted, organized, created separate sheets, color-coded, tallied, identified gaps and next steps for getting the data in a usable format to create individual project profiles within a consistent data set. I’ve been tracking my methodology every step of the way, which will be essential to creating a coherent data set that is well defined once it is finalized.

The bottom line is we will have to find a way to make the project more manageable. ODM simply does not have the time and man power to devote to the depth, breadth, and detailed research that this project could require. But our work and ultimate data set will still be very important and will provide a lot of added value to those who reference it. It may not be everything, but it will be a lot of things.

Remember when I uploaded all the documents to CKAN for the Open Development Laos State Land Leases and Concessions topic page back in Week 5? Well I got a preview of the almost-final draft on the website. It was great to see the library entries featured on the topic page as links for readers to find related material or for more in-depth reading. It was also interesting because it provided more context for the next stages of my climate change, climate change adaptation, and climate change mitigation topic pages. They’re still awaiting review, but should be close to beginning that process.

Last weekend, James, our housemate Jenny (another law student from the states), and I travelled to Mondulkiri Province. We endured the seven-hour bus ride each way so we could spend a day with elephants at a sanctuary. It was a really wonderful experience, well worth the accrued bus time! The Mondulkiri Project is playing its small part to give the elephants a better life. They currently have five with the hopes of buying more to save them from a life of hard, abusive work. Some of the elephants have been used for transporting resin, or to illegally smuggle timber over the Vietnamese border across rivers and through forests where police can’t set up check points, or they’ve been forcibly trained to allow tourists to ride them. All of these past lives involved mistreatment and suffering, but they now have a peaceful home at the sanctuary. They have 5 square kilometers to roam. Each elephant has a person who stays nearby as a means of security during the day. And, of course, they get bunches on bunches of bananas from the tourists who visit the sanctuary.

On Sunday, we went to Bou Sra waterfalls before catching our bus back to Phnom Penh. After living and hiking in Oregon, I can be hard to impress when it comes to waterfalls, but Bou Sra did not disappoint. It was a large, three-tiered waterfall that, given the rainy season, was a thundering force. We joined the Khmer people swimming in the river and scrambling along the slippery rocks to get under the falls. This weekend, we’re off to Chiang Mai, Thailand!