Things You Come to Appreciate Living in Cambodia

Since moving to Cambodia three weeks ago to start a placement with VSO ICS, I have had to adapt to a new lifestyle with a lot less privacy and a lot more insects. I have felt a new appreciation for a lot of things that make life comfortable here! Here’s the top 15:

Cold showers: when it is 36°c a baby wipe wash just doesn’t cut it (although I have lots of those as well)
Shade: luckily the district where I’m staying has plenty of trees, unfortunately other VSO groups in Cambodia aren’t so lucky
Iced coffee: 2000 riel (50 cents) is nothing for sugary heaven in a glass in a ventilated cafe
Western-style toilets: since most here are traditional squat-toilets, anything more is a luxury. As soon as one of the team finds a toilet with a seat, the news travels fast; if the bathroom also has toilet paper then we are living the dream!
Hair bobbles: you would not believe how sweaty you get here. Hair stuck to the back of your neck is not worth looking glamorous with your hair down
Mosquito nets: as soon as I’m under my net at night I feel safe from the world. This was proven during my first night when a large unknown insect landed on it above my head
Condensed milk: have it with bread, with tea, with a spoon – it is my newly discovered favourite food which is widely available here and keeps forever
Imodium tablets: self explanatory
Time alone: although I have great roomies, being with people 24/7 can be a bit tiring, so an opportunity to sit and read a book in silence is always appreciated
Rain: before we came here the district had already suffered two months of drought. Last night the bathing water ran out so both the community and the volunteers are crossing our fingers for a storm very soon
Free Wi-Fi: since both the UK and Khmer volunteers are away from home, staying connected is super important, even if it is just to see your friends’ selfies on Facebook or to Skype your dog
Fake oreos: when I discovered my chocolate stash had melted and attracted a colony of ants in my suitcase, the happiness of finding chocolate biscuits being sold in the market was unrivalled
Opportunities to be proactive: although advertisements of volunteering abroad make it look like you are single-handedly saving the world, the reality is, on the ground it can be a slow and frustrating process. Taking action when you see an opportunity, for instance starting an English class with your host family, is sometimes the only way to see the immediate result of your hard work
Rice: it is very easy to get sick of rice, since we have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but seeing how it provides income and sustenance for so many people in our community makes me realise its true value in this part of the world
Smiling: it is very comforting to know that there is something simple you can do that surpasses all language barriers

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The sunflowers grown at Battambang University

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