Bun Tharum, Phnom Penh
I asked him to guest blog his perspectives on a monthlong trip he took to Cambodia–his first visit ever. He writes:
“I was in Cambodia for one month this time. I was invited to do some training and visit projects by Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters, or InSTEDD, in Cambodia. You can google them. (I am running on Basic HTML mode which means I can’t link.) This trip was a little work and some vacation time.
“I was renting an apartment from a professor of Pannasatra University. A very friendly and nice person. We bonded very well. That’s where I was staying most of the time. Having stayed in Phnom Penh for a week, I wanted to see the real and more rural Cambodia so I went to Kampot for a week. I made some local friends and I went to some of the rice
fields and volunteered to help with the rice harvest for a few hours. I went to the college of education in Kampot a couple of times. I was connected to the college through Volunteer Service Overseas, which is a British organization, and US Peace Corps volunteers that I’d met on the bus to Kamput. Then Charlene, the VSO volunteer, recommended Rabbit Island, and I went there and spent a night on the gulf of Thailand. I also went to Kep. I liked the small town and simple life of the people.
“I feel accomplished when I can be of help to others. Afghanistan is similar to Cambodia. Corruption is a big issue here. That makes rich people (usually dirty money) richer and poor people ever more poor. I come from a poor family, and I feel like developing the poor’s livelihood is where I belong. I went to an orphanage and I was teaching those kids how to make and use a rocket cooker (make it out of trash cans) in Phnom Penh and our knife broke when we were cutting cans for the stove. I went to the nearby market with a kid to buy another one. We were walking hand in hand, and it felt so heart warming when the 9-year-old kid squeezed my hand to show affection.
“I usually blog about social issues and injustice like corruption, human rights, education and so on. I travel a lot for work and I blog about work and the security and other constraints that I face during work and how that hinders our development.
“I am not a new blogger. Internet has made my life a lot easier. From news to finding local restaurants, etc. I think that I should contribute and share my stories and what is going on in my society with the rest of the world.
“When I first came to Cambodia I went to a restaurant and met with some expats and had dinner with them, went to the markets with them, hung out with them. But a few days later, I realized that those were people that I can hang out with any time.
“I wanted to make Khmer friends and blend in there. I wanted to spend time with them and get to know them. During my time in Kampot, I got to do all of that. When I went to the bloggers’ meet up there, I saw young people who were actively working for social change. I think that locals can help their own community more than the internationals can. If both work together, then that’s very effective. I admire the young Cambodian bloggers’ activism and their endeavors for the betterment of their society, though they face some challenges re their freedom of expression.
“I have Facebook friends from Cambodia and Twitter followers, and I enjoy talking/discussing things with them.”