SFS Admissions Counselor Amy Sullivan and Dean of Academic Programs Mark Seifert recently returned from a trip to Southeast Asia where they continued to develop The Living Mekong program in Cambodia and Vietnam, which launches in the fall of 2014. Their trip involved many of the same expeditions and excursions that students will experience—from the lush forests of Phnom Kulen, to the ancient Ankgorian temples, to the busy markets of Phnom Penh.

Ripe mangosteen at the morning market in Siem Reap, Cambodia—one of many exotic fruits and vegetables sold here.

Fresh catch from the waters of the Tonle Sap. The lake provides about 75% of Cambodia’s annual fish yield and is a critical resource both economically and nutritionally for Siem Reap residents.

A mother and daughter set up shop at the morning market in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

A guide at the Banteay Srey Butterfly Center shows a collection of pupae. The Center serves as both a tourist attraction and an additional source of income for butterfly farmers in the community who are encouraged to help conserve rare species.

The stilted fishing village of Kampong Kleang rises above the Tonle Sap. During the rainy season, the Mekong River swells and forces the Tonle Sap River to reverse direction, flooding the lake. As the waters recede during the dry season, these villages tower several meters the water level.

The view from a Tuk Tuk—the best way to get around the busy streets of Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia.

Angkor Wat is the largest religious structure in the world. Built in the early 12th century, this elaborate temple represents Mount Meru, home to the gods in Hinduism. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, it is the most popular tourist attraction in Cambodia and is proudly displayed on the country’s flag and currency.

Graceful Apsara dancers are carved along the walls of Angkor Wat. Apsaras are supernatural female spirits in Hindu and Buddhist mythology, and the traditional Khmer dance is called the Apsara dance.

The giant stone faces of Bayon, a Buddhist shrine built by Jayavarman VII in the late 12th or early 13th century.

Strangler figs have taken over at Ta Prohm. Little restoration work has been done and the temple essentially remains in the ruinous state in which it was discovered.

The tourism industry peaks during the dry season in Cambodia. Temples such as Pre Rup seen here teem with tourists from all over the world from February through July.

Much of the Phnom Kulen National Park forest remains virtually untouched by ecologists. Scientists have only recently begun cataloging the many species of insects, birds, rodents, and other mammals that exist in these woods. The area is still threatened by the logging industry.

Waters surge at Kbeal Spean in the forests of Phnom Kulen. Lingas are carved into the river bed and are said to give life and fertility to the waters as they flow into the Siem Reap River.

A distributary of the Mekong River as it flows through the delta in Can Tho, Vietnam. The Mekong runs through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam before reaching the South China Sea. Researchers from Can Tho University are leading the effort to study the specific ecology of the delta and the impact of upstream dams and climate change on the fragile ecosystem.

Canoes are often the best mode of transportation in Kratie, Cambodia, a rural town along the Mekong River that experiences heavy flooding during the rainy season.

Sunset over Ochheuteal Beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The coast of Cambodia offers a beautiful respite from the bustling cities, with plenty of mangrove forests to explore.

Learn more about The Living Mekong program in Cambodia and Vietnam