Sunday, September 12, 2010

Getting up to speed-The hows and whys of going to Cambodia

Hey folks,
               It has been a very interesting ten days in Cambodia so far although the idea that I live here now as yet to sink in. Has I have not yet perfected my blog style or content I would be delighted to get feedback and or questions from you all.

Let me just recap for those joining late and to add some additional information that I have learnt since my arrival.

So what brings me to Cambodia, well last October I applied to Volunteer Service Overseas VSO  as I pretty much felt that I had hit a wall with regards my career in my last job, also wanted to do something which would I hope have wider impact in another country and of course the change to see and live somewhere every different from Ireland.

So after been accepted as Volunteer and deciding to give a 2 year commitment I completed 2 online courses and 2 residential courses. I did not have geographical preference as to where I would volunteer and decided instead to look for the role that best fitted what I was after where-ever that may have been.

So I was offered a placement as an Advocacy Management Advisor with the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association CITA which I gladly accepted. I am not sure how much information you want to know about CITA. Basically it does what it says on the tin, it is the only independent teachers' organisation in Cambodia which has political environment which is not exactly predisposed towards trade unions or civil society although that is changing. Anyway CITA was established in 2000-01 by Mr. Rong Chhun who is a very committed and inspirational union leaders and political activist.

My role or at least what I think my role is at this stage  is to help CITA develop it's advocacy and organisational capacity, so basically to help them develop policies, actions and training that will further the organisation in reaching its objectives. This role obviously will be very varied and challenging but I am hoping it will prove befintal both to me, CITA and VSO. So how does it work well while I am called a Volunteer I am not in the through sense as I receive an allowance while working with CITA and the relationship is one of Employer-Employee. Anyway if you want to know more about CITA or my role just let me know.

So last Wednesday I departed Dublin airport dropped off by Rory McDaid (thanks Rory). The first crises was at the Eithad airways desk when for a brief moment I was told I would have to pay €280 for excess baggage. However this was quickly resolved as I was traveling on a special fare and entitled to a 40kg allowance thank goodness. Eithad by the way are the best airline I have flown with, comfortable seats, great crew, good in-flight service. Anyway several hours later I arrived in Abu Dhabi and caught a flight to Bangkok were I decided to go mad and check into a room at the airport to sleep during the 7 hour stop over and boy oh bot did I sleep.So eventually after waking up refreshed I continued onto Phnom Penn at 14.30hrs and was greeted by VSO staff and duly got my Visa sorted (well kind of) initially I will have three month visa until I got my work visa which will last longer.

So after that we headed to the VSO office which is on ST 214 see the PP map very close about 5min from Royal Place. Needless to say that since arriving the temperature has not dropped much below 20C but is the humidity that is the thing you have to get use to which on a good day is 60% but usually 80% especially now as we are in the rainy season.

Anyway I have been in PP before and was not overcome with the desire to do all the usually touristy stuff so instead I found my away to Rorys' pub on ST 178 or art street because of all the arts and crafts shops and yes I had  beer. That was on Thursday 2nd which seems like an age ago so much has happened since which will be the subject of my next blog.


  1. Hey, Hope you are having a great time in Kampong Chan. I took the liberty of looking up Kampong Chang and found the following::

    Kampong Cham is the third largest city in Cambodia. Despite not having as many tourist attractions as Phnom Penh or Angkor Wat, this charming city is the best place to get a feel of the “real” Cambodia. The remnants of French colonial rule are here, as are modern improvements to this one poor area’s infrastructure. The real charm of Kampong Cham lies with its people. The people of Kampong Cham are mostly friendly, happy-go-lucky folks who are welcoming to tourists.
    Because there is still not much in the way of a tourist industry in Kampong Cham, visitors will have to arrange their own transport. Motorcycle riders will be able to rent bikes, although many tourists take advantage of the cheap prices and purchase their own bike. Non motorcycle riders, and those who don’t want to risk Cambodia’s sometimes crazy roads can find motorcycle drivers (motodops) to drive them. There are also cars for hire.
    Though there are a few temples, the best things to do in Kampong Cham and the surrounding area (Kampong Cham Province) is just to hang out or cruise the countryside. Within the city, it is worth checking out the markets. There is all the hustle and bustle of a Southeast Asian market, but with Kampong Cham’s unique charm and friendly local people. It’s a great place to socialize, even if you don’t speak Khmer. You can find great food stalls at some of these markets.
    After a hard day, the improvised beer halls on the banks of the Mekong are the best place to be. Beer is cheap (Angkor, Tiger), and the locals will definitely be around to socialize.
    Just cruising in the countryside, past the fruit and vegetable farms, and local villages (including several stilt house villages along the Mekong) is reward enough for most tourists. Those seeking "untourist" attraction will find a couple of temples in the area worth checking out. Thousand year old Nokor Temples is the most famous in the area, but be prepared to wander by yourself unless you happen upon one of the monks who live there.
    A cruise on a slow boat (as opposed to a fast one) on the Mekong would be a great way to end a visit to this sleepy but charming ville.

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  3. hej :-) super cool! i was wondering how you ended up in Cambodia :-) will u host the NYs then? hihi hugs! Vanja

  4. I am would be delighetd to host the NY part or any visits for any ESIB hacks traveling through the region-beer starts at $.5, cocktails $1.50 and the people are lovely and Angkor Wat will blow your mind