AndrewJones' Travel Journals

AndrewJones

  • From United Kingdom
  • Currently in Cambodia

Living & Volunteering in Siem Reap

I gave up my job at the end of March 2015 and in a few weeks time I'm Cambodia bound, volunteering for 12 weeks for a community project in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Either I've taken leave of my senses or I'm following a path to...er....enlightenment? Or somewhere between the two? This journal is about my trip

First Week in Cambodia!

Cambodia Siem Reap, Cambodia  |  Jun 18, 2015
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 Finding My Feet In Cambodia 

I'm here! Arrived in Phnom Penh last Friday the 12th June and stayed there for a couple of nights visiting the Royal Palace but mostly just doing my best to adjust to the sights and sounds of this chaotic, colourful city. My tuk tuk driver from the airport to the hotel valiantly negotiated his way through the traffic madness (well, it seemed like madness to my western eyes), finding spaces in amongst the traffic that I didn't think existed. Give way to oncoming traffic? I don't think so! Give way to any traffic? Only as a last resort!

Then on the Sunday I caught the coach from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap which is a jounney of about 6.5 hours and starts along an impressive dual carriageway out of the capital city but at times deteriorates to a dirt track. We'd go from tarmac surface to no surface and back again. The coach was an impressive looking vehicle, with wi-fi and air-con, designed mostly I suspect for tourists. To mix more with locals I'd have needed to have caught a different, and admittedly cheaper coach, but I was losing the battle against jetlag and fancied just reading and listening to my musical playlist. I have to say that it felt rather bizarre listening to Captain Sensible's 'Happy Talk' as the coach picked its way through yet another Cambodian village, with the flat green fields laid out like a patch work far into the distance on either side of the highway.

And now I've been 4 nights in Siem Reap and yesterday met up with Markus, Interweave's Project Manager, and have transferred to where I'll be staying for the next 12 weeks or so, a guest house/hotel about a mile from the city centre. I've been made really welcome by the joint proprietors, Andy and Voleak, and the hotel is top-notch, and includes a splendid swimming pool (located about 20 yards from my room as it happens).

And I haven't even started volunteering yet! I've just started the volunteers' orientation programme with Markus, which includes a crash course in the Khymer language, a trip to Angkor Wat, a meeting with the school where I'll be volunteering and various procedural steps.

For the first few days I will admit to having felt homesick, and there have been a few times when I've thought that I've lost my mind, but the welcome I've received has helped considerably to dispel my doubts. I'm still finding my feet in this rather wonderful country.

It does rain here, in fact it frequently pours down in the late afternoon, which is nice because it reminds me of home in Wales, but usually the rain is over relatively quickly.

Now, time for a swim.................

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