Monday, March 22, 2010

Catching up

I know I’ve only been in Cambodia for 11 days but it feels like I’ve been here for months! The past 11 days have already far exceeded my expectations. My days have been filled with tuk tuks, trainings, temples, rice, anchor beer, more rice and many awkward, funny and amazing experiences. Here are just a few of the highlights to date:

New Friends: I feel very fortunate to have met such great people here already. There are 27 of us volunteers who started with Volunteer Services Organization (VSO) and I’ve grown particularly close with three of them already. Here is a brief introduction to the cast of characters:

Katie: We call each other our UK/American doppelganger. (For those of you who don’t know – a doppelganger is a double or identical replica of a person). Katie is from the UK and we were randomly assigned as roommates during our first week in Phnom Penh and instantly hit it off. Katie will be based in Phnom Penh as well so stay tuned for many more stories to come that involve the two of us!

Samira: Samira is from Sweden but has called several places home, including Florida. Somehow despite the extreme heat and humidity Samira always manages to look absolutely posh (as Katie would say). Not to mention, she’s also one of the most easy going individual’s you will meet. Samira will be based in Kampong Thom but we expect her to visit us in PP often!

Paul: Paul is our token guy and definitely takes great care of us girls! Paul is a nurse from Toronto and is hilarious to have around. Somehow he’s managed to put up with our endless girl talk and still chooses to hang out with us! Paul will be based in Battambang which is about a six hour bus ride from PP but he’s already promised to visit us often.

Sights: I haven’t been able to do much sightseeing yet, but we did spend a day on a cyclo tour around Phnom Pehn and this past weekend I caught a bus to the Kampong Cham province to visit my fellow volunteers. (Everyone left PP a few days ago to attend language classes but sadly I had to stay behind to start work). (My work here deserves a post of its own and I promise to share more information on what exactly I’m doing in Cambodia soon). For now, here are just a few pictures of my adventures around Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham:

Part of the Palace grounds in Phnom Penh

Independence Monument in Phnom Penh

Katie and Samira along the river front in PP

The bamboo bridge in Kampong Cham...built each year prior to rainy season to keep the main land connected to a remote island that contains a small village. On Saturday afternoon, Katie, Paul, Samira and I rode bikes over the bridge and visited the local village.

On Sunday a group of us chartered a boat to take us up the Mekong river to visit Wat Hanchey and another island village. It was a great day filled with many surprises...starting with my surprise birthday breakfast pulled together by Katie, Paul and Samira of course! They truly went above and beyond and made my big 3-0 an unforgettable day. In addition to the banner and balloons...the day was filled with cake, candles and amazing gifts including a traditional cambodian scarf which I love (it's pink which just happens to be my favorite color) and a bicycle basket cover to keep those pesky bag snatchers at bay.

Suprise bday breakfast

In the boat on the Mekong river

Wat Hanchey

Island village

The little boy I was obsessed with from the village. He was absolutely precious.


  1. Didn't take long for you to get some amazing pictures.

  2. Crystal, I am so glad you are having a great time. Your pictures are amazing! I am so proud of you. This is going to be an unbelievable adventure. I can't wait to hear more. Take care!

  3. Great pictures friend! So glad to see the blog up and the name too. It's perfect! I am so proud of you and not surprised one bit that you have instantly made so many friends. Keep us updates on all the adventures! XOXO

  4. So happy you finally did this! I am so proud of you& your amazing work and travels! What a truly incredible experience you are having over there...stay safe & keep us updated as often as possible! Love you!

  5. oh my gosh i love it! the pictures are amazing. i can't believe you biked across that rickety bridge!! hope your birthday was amazing!!

    lots of love from across the world.

  6. Yay Crystal! Can't wait to follow your adventures in Cambodia! So awesome! Happy belated birthday, I am glad you have made some lovely friends already (no surprise there)! Cheers!

  7. These pictures are amazing! I love how much adventure you've fit in to your first 11 days. Your "crew" sounds like they will be a ton of fun too.

  8. I've been feeling a little anxious about my two weeks in Thailand (I leave to work at an orphanage on Sunday). Michelle told me to look at your blog to get some inspiration. Inspiration pending... just INSPIRED ME! Thanks!