Tag Archives: Volunteer Abroad

Phnom Penh 3

….I think it’s 3?

Anyway, we’re in our last week of volunteering at the special needs orphanage. We’ve dusted the cobwebs off of our nursery rhymes and mastered all of the Khmer names and eating habits of each child. It’s a bit gutting to know we’re leaving so soon…but I am looking forward to properly travelling again.

We’re gathering our gifts for the orphanage which consist of formula, cereals and diapers…all essentials that the kids end up going without if volunteers and donors don’t provide contributions. In once sense I really don’t agree with how we’re expected to provide these essential commodities when we’re already donating our time (I don’t have spare cash…hence donating my time?), but at the same time if the kids need it 100 bucks is worth heaps more to them than to me, even in the dire circumstance of backpacking.

My legs are led at the moment due to the fact that we’re biking 15km a day as we traded in our turfed tuk tuk for push bikes saving on cash and contributing to the calorie burn….probably good considering I have an empty bag of soft baked dark chocolate cookie purchased tonight by my side…We’ve also been pretty dedicated to doing the workouts at Olympic Stadium, which are 25 cents for an hour of zumba/tae bo, and cater to every and any cambodian of any age, social standing, and/or attire…
our nurs
Otherwise the stadium is great, there’s stairs, track, soccer pitches, tae kwon do, tennis, and impromptu badminton.

We’ve also discovered some sweet restaurants this week including an Indian joint called Taste Budz on street 282, just off of Monivong and Sihanoukville. Pretty good indian….if I hadn’t been to Penang, great Indian. Relatively cheap….but we hear there are cheaper all-you-can eat places by the lake. We went in search the other night to find out it was ‘closed’. Must love Asia and it’s ‘yeah, it was grandpa’s birthday last month and now we got a new cat so I think we’ll take a day off to watch soaps’ holidays…

Friends is also amazing…pricier because it is an NGO cafe, but the food is great. I’m going to interject here and present my beef with Cambodia. Yes, it is very poor; Yes, it has seen complete turmoil I will never understand; and Yes, I might do the same if I were them…but the use and abuse their tragic history. Every cafe is run by street kids or teaches them to cook, every shop has things made by mothers in need, every traveller is a volunteer… So, all these shops charge extra because they cater to empathetic Westerners who are here volunteering their time…when really they are Massive cash cows for their western owners. All of the major NGO cafe/shops are owned and operated by westerners. Hence the English menus, tons of advertising, and all in one heart string teasers to get the biggest bang for the buck out of each visitor. You would honestly be better off buying from the super local cafes where nobody speaks English…betcha they need your cash more than the others. It’s funny, each of these NGO places always has air con, fresh paint, and recent renovations…Wonder if they hired street kids to install it?

I know that they are in fact poor, and that I couldn’t imagine what they’ve been through. However they definitely have taken their past and turned it into a pity story to scam westerners….not even the Khmer people, more sickening…its the westerners that come, use the story, and benefit off of other westerners. I feel a little sick every time I go to one of these places but it seems all my other ‘good hearted volunteer’ friends quite like it. What gives. Perhaps I’m a cynic…I like to think I’m smarter than ‘scambodia’ as I’ve called if from the minute I entered it. Eating local, buying local, and staying in our somewhat bug infested guest house makes me feel better than eating a ‘really good apple crumble’ recipe by nana in Georgia executed by a Khmer kid, whose brother comes to sell me DVDs during my dinner with begging hands…

Somehow in the next 10 days I am trying to get visas for India, Vietnam, and a 60 day for Thailand. Cambodia is the cheapest place in SE Asia to get all of them (moreso I need Vietnam to continue my journey), but the office hours are while I’m at volunteering…time will tell. Either way these three will cost me upwards of 200 combined…yeesh! good thing I found cheap flights to India, from there to Africa, and from cpt to Athens–Skyscanner I love you.

Lunch tomorrow is Tofu, cucumber, and Carrot…made possible by the knife I bought for 80 cents. Arguably my best purchase in Asia so far.

I’m also going to yoga at Yoga! Phnom Penh tomorrow for a ‘sweat and samadhi’ class. Not only do the instructors and classes seem sweet but they are also doing me a massive favor and helping me get my books for yoga training which would have costed upwards of 80 bucks to get shipped, for only 6 bucks each here in PP!

That being said, I’m doing a pretty good job of keeping fit, probably because we have one home and the laundry lady is AMAZING, so any excuse to get a fresh load washed, dried, and folded for a dollar is a gooder.

Advertisements

Phnom Penh 1

…I should have named this PP 4….because this is the land where nothing is in order…or even close to making sense…streets go 114, 124, 141,139…intersecting 220, 219, 229…oyee veyyy 

 

That makes it particularly awesome when arriving at 3 am…but, in all fairness, its the end of monday, and I arrived friday night, I’ve spent 44 dollars including all accommodation, transport, food, sim card, and the massive pack of water and breakky groceries that will last until Friday.  cheapppppy cheap.  Like 3 dollar a night cheap.  The most expensive thing is our tuk tuk to and from volunteering…and we’re working on getting motos instead. 

 

Anyway, what’s going on for the next bit is that my friend from home and I are volunteering at the National Borey Institute for children in Phnom Penh with orphans of varying levels of physical and mental disabilities.  If you want to make any donations please contact me via comment, or sending a message on the ‘About Anika’ page.  

 

It is a great place with several volunteer organizations that send people to assist the workers.  We got our contact through the Play Around the World program at the U of A..  Anyway, it is an amazing place…reminds me SO much of the orphanages we were at in Peru…same smells, food feedings, and even the kids all remind me of ones from San Megillas in Lima.  They are in groups of 12 ish with a ‘mama’ which is their mom and caregiver at the orphanage that is expected to clean, feed, and care for the children.  As volunteers we help with all of these tasks and still the day is full and exhausting—I don’t know how the women do it day in and day out as a job, and how they would do it without volunteers.  

 

We made it there this morning in one piece in a cheap tuk tuk and on time. Bloody miracle, I tell ya.  We had no idea about anything but it all seemed to fall in to place.  Like I said, its a bit far from where we’re staying, but when transport and accommodation is 6 bucks for a day…can you really complain?  We thought we were to work half days, but it looks like we’ll be there the full 8-4 (with a 2 hour lunch to socialize).  We have met a few other volunteers including one that just came from Africaaaa and has connections for me!! How exciting! This will be our life for the next week. Then there is 10 days off for Khmer New Year…obviously everywhere we want to go is at opposite corners of Cambodia, so we’ll see how that goes, then one more week and I’m off to Vietnam!