The end of our time in Cambodia

The end of our time in Cambodia truly crept up on us. Having spent the first week respecting just how long 6 weeks could feel, the realisation that we might actually make it through this trip unscathed was certainly a shock. The last couple of weeks therefore became jam-packed with all the things we had wanted to do out here but hadn't quite got round to yet: all the way from having a knitting class (Jonny got a bit obsessed!), to helping (using the term very loosely) make hand-made soaps, to leading a little Bible study with Khmer women, who translated into Khmer as we went along.

My birthday happened too (Jonny!). Turns out even in a different continent it's hard to keep a low profile on this day of the year. Not that I ever try particularly hard. Me saying that I like to go unnoticed on my birthday is rather like the cleverest kid in class coming out of an exam and insisting they failed; infuriating levels of fake modesty on both accounts. Woken up (as part of my facade I h…

Much Work and Mini Breaks

It’s been a whirlwind last couple of weeks here in both the world of work and the world of play. In the former world, Amy has been working on creating a brand and website for campaign which sees hand-knitted monkeys travel the world, with the aim of boosting the organisation’s profile and getting 100 women into safe and secure employment, knitting little monkeys! She’s also been reworking materials from the charity she works for back at home to run two financial literacy workshops for the women who work from the central Phnom Penh office.
Meanwhile, Jonny has been doing the fun stuff. His world of work has been filled with… a full strategic analysis for the organisation, compiling a costing for a potential new export market, creating a (as he puts it) ‘bumper, pro’ set-up for the organisation’s stock, and training the staff in how to use it.
And if by some miracle you’re still reading on following that last finance-fun-filled paragraph, we can now talk about the world of play. We’ve bee…

Tourists for the Weekend

On Saturday (after Jonny finally relented from my non-stop pestering - we couldn't come all this way to Asia and not see the animals!) we set off for the day to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, which is 25 miles south of Phnom Penh. Over about 6,000 acres, Wildlife Alliance cares for and rehabilitates something like 1,200 animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. The animals that we saw had either been terribly mistreated, were highly endangered and at risk of poaching for their furs or skins, or had been rescued just in time by police from poachers (such as the aptly named Lucky the elephant).

We chose to have a guided tour for the day as there is very little signage at the centre (it's not a zoo!) which was a great decision. Sam was a hilarious Khmer woman who provided lots of entertainment as well as knowing many of the animal's names and personalities. One gibbon turned out to be partial to a back scratch, offering his back for a little massage! When Sam said…

Week 2: Palaces, Stock Counts and Cultural Differences

A busy week 2 has led to fewer blogposts than we would have liked so we'll try and cram it all in here.
Last Saturday was our first tourist day. Our perusals included a museum, a palace, a market, a riverfront and at least three eateries (which included one or two drinkeries in the evening). 
The number of times we had ‘TUK-TUK?’ yelled at us was quite something. A Westerner walking down the street piques the interest of tens of tuk-tuk drivers slouching or snoozing in the back of their vehicles. I put the question mark in the speech marks above to be kind – it feels more like a command than a question in most instances, although they rarely ask more than twice to their credit. In the circumstance where we do actually require a tuk-tuk, the triumphant face of the driver who has just won work for the next 30 minutes slowly turns to a look of confusion as he realises he has no idea where we are living, despite pouring over our Google Maps for five minutes and asking every other driver…

First days in Cambodia

Now that we're starting to feel a little settled into our new city, we've found ourselves with an evening in and a chance to write an update at last!

I (Amy) was perhaps most worried of all about the long-haul flight. Unfortunately I was not proved wrong - unable to sleep in flight and the altitude doing weird things with my head, I was ejected into Bangkok feeling like I had a six-cocktails-strong hangover. Thankfully it only took a few hours to pass, and whilst it's taken us both a good few days to catch up on sleep (we've literally fallen asleep on tuk-tuks), we quickly felt fine with the changed time zone.

After a nervy process of getting our visas, we were greeted out of Phnom Penh airport on Saturday evening by a wall of humid heat and a friendly American ex-pat tuk-tuk driver, who proceeded to tie our huge suitcases to the front of his vehicle. Riding through Phnom Penh for the first time was an assault on the senses, and the heart. You can't exaggerate the …

Five Days to Go: Preparations, Excitement and Trepidation

Aside from scoring some record Scrabble points with that title, the last couple of weeks have been pretty crazy in the Page abode. It all still seems slightly unreal, almost as though we may wake up from the dream of it all, but on Saturday we will be off to Cambodia! We are going to be volunteering in Cambodia’s Capital, Phnom Penh, working with Cambodia Knitsand Fairweave, two linked social enterprises which empower people in marginalised local communities (particularly women) with fair and safe employment opportunities, creating financial self-sufficiency in a country with severely discriminatory and exploitative labour conditions. Jonny, with his accounting qualifications, will be assisting the organisations with all things finance, whilst Amy’s varied background in charity work will be helping with a myriad of other aspects including social media, marketing and events.
Doing some volunteering abroad, as a way of offering our skills for free, whilst getting an opportunity to explor…