On Wednesday of this week, I touched down in Siem Reap, Cambodia, A.K.A the Land of the Rising Flood Waters. When I stepped onto the tarmac (no, they don’t have those lovely enclosed bridges which take you from the plane to the airport), my first impression was that Siem Reap had developed dramatically. The airport is now top notch for a developing country, with a clean interior design and lots of staff (notice I don’t throw in the word friendly) to assist with your immigration.
Once out of the airport, you notice that there are multiple mobile phone shops, where I immediately signed up to the prettiest one, Beeline (OK, I am not going to lie here. I actually wasn’t wearing my glasses, so thought that there was only one shop. After I forked out $49USD for a new SIM and phone since stupid Virgin hadn’t unlocked my old phone, I then saw the other, cheaper, phone shops).
Then, when preparing myself to be harassed by dozens of tuk tuk drivers, I realized that….there were none! THAT’S RIGHT; THEY GOT RID OF THE TUK TUK DRIVERS FROM THE AIRPORT! I later found out that they are still on the outside of the airport, they just aren’t allowed in the car park. The man who rented me my taxi must have forgotten to tell me this.
After spending $7 on a taxi ride, both the driver and I realized that he wouldn’t be able to get me to my destination due to the flood waters rising overnight. Instead, he had to drop me off on the edge of the floodwaters in town and find a tuk tuk driver who was willing to drive through the waters 500 meters to my hotel.
Well, I got into the tuk tuk and started riding away, only to have it break down after 200 meters. The drivers’ mate came and rescued me, with another man on board to help protect my bags from the splashing water. I finally made it to the hotel, $13 in transport costs later, to knee high flood water that luckily was just below the entrance of the hotel. Phew.
On Thursday I started at Anjali House, where I will be working as a Volunteer Coordinator for at least the next 12 months. The contrast was evident as soon as I got there. Instead of spending my days on a $1200 ergonomic chair, I am now sitting on a plastic outdoor chair. Instead of being having activity based working with top of the line equipment, I am in a room the size of my bedroom and sharing a table with 4 other people. I must not waste any resources here, as Anjali is desperate for funds and every pen, every bit of paper, every staple matters.
Given that I have an incredibly short attention span, my first two days weren’t as productive as I had hoped. Working with children playing noisily around me, and so close to my other workmates, it is a bit distracting. Hence, I have brought home work this weekend so that I can catch up on what I should have done.
I have also decided on where I will hopefully visit next year – Malaysia, Guam, Bangkok, Burma, Laos and maybe Philippines. This means I am going to have to REALLY be watching my budget. More on that later.
Now it’s time for a Saturday morning ride on my new orange bike.