Tuesday, March 18, 2014


My hesitation with writing too much about this trip was fear I'd present such a skewed view, it would turn people off of wanting to set foot in the country.  If that has occurred, please know that was not my intention.  Creation of drama is not what I am about.

It is because I deliberately chose to look at difficulty that such a slant of emotions exists.  Do not skip seeing Cambodia because of my experiences.  Those difficult things are there should you wish to see them but as I've stated before, the majority of visitors do not.  I tend to approach things strongly and my goals for the trip weren't typical. 

For D's sake, I wish I had taken some "normal" photos of the riverfront area of Phnom Penh because it is actually quite pleasant there if you can ignore the sexpats...who were "harmless" in that their target market was not me.  He wasn't ready to take on Cambodia before I left and to my dismay, even less so after seeing all the pictures.  I'm still hopeful I can rally his support towards a project.  I know he'll do it if I ask him but I would prefer he be there because he is genuinely moved by it. 

By far the most beautiful thing about Cambodia are the people.  They are gentle, unassuming, patient.  Considering all they have gone through, you'd expect a lot different.  Even in the poorest of areas I was welcomed with smiles and even apologies that they did not know how to say more than "hello" whereas I was embarrassed and apologizing for my too basic Khmer vocabulary. 

I could see they appreciated that someone was taking the time to understand their plight and I was happy they weren't upset I was there observing and asking questions.  The last thing I wanted, was for them to feel like they were items on display without dignity. 

It is worth noting that from no one did I detect a sense of entitlement. People want opportunity to earn their income and be independent, not sit there receiving handouts.  I believe their culture of "saving face" has a lot to do with that mindset. 

I can only imagine how it would feel, living in such an environment, getting bitten, hot, wet, suffering from malnutrition, in pain, constantly starving, tired, sick from bad water.  And to think how impatient I would feel on the days where I'm feeling 25% off my peak...It was a needed lesson to learn about myself. 

The locals did not have any idea how the outside world viewed their country from a health risk perspective.  When I described all I went through from a travel health perspective, it stunned them!  Even young educated people did not know why I bothered to use mosquito repellant and any attempted discussions about Dengue or Malaria was met with confusion. 

If you want to see "natural selection" in full-on technicolour action, go to a developing country.  Feeling like I would not be able to make a ripple of a difference even if I gave every cent I had was devastating.  I was counselled repeatedly to not feel so angry which was a high high order.  They see things differently there and I can honestly say now, so am I, as things continue to evolve inside.  There is hope.


  1. As a long term reader of your blog I have to say I wondered what are your reasons to visit these countries. As an immigrant from one of those (but much less, comparatively) impoverished countries, I was interested on what you will find out when you get there vs what you imagined through your research. I think it's hard for a person who grew up in Canada, presumably in a middle class family, to understand how people live the way they live and still manage to carry on with their lives. It is not very difficult if this is the only way of life you know. For them, It is hard to imagine they way You live. Also I think you can't change a country/nationality/tradition from the outside. It has to come from the inside. No matter how foreigners try to help - it won't make any difference, unless it's processed and regurgitated from inside their collective conscience. my 2 cents...

    1. I think your input is worth far more than 2 cents... : )

      Started typing a reply and it got so long, I've decided to turn it into a post.

      Thanks for sticking around for all my craziness and sparking further thoughts.