And so I’m in Sisophon, and I don’t know where to begin really. When I first arrived it felt like one big ball of emotion, one minute everything was great, but it would take only the smallest trigger (like someone trying to overcharge me for an apple, for instance) and suddenly I’d feel rubbish and wonder why I thought it was a good idea to come here in the first place. It’s a lot to take in: new house, new job, new language. And with no-one to tell me what to do… I’ve taken to just kind of doing something and hope I got it right and didn’t offend anyone. To be honest, it still is a lot to take in, but I think I’m slowly getting the hang of things. Slowly.
The first few days here were marred by the fact that my house, unfortunately, was stationed between two Khmer weddings. If you know nothing more about local Cambodia, know this - Khmer weddings are not a quiet event. It’s like having a radio stuck in your head that you can’t switch off. So, this - together with the three confused roosters that live next door to me – has taught me a very key lesson: I will never need an alarm clock again.
Anyway, the weddings finished and life continues – I’m getting into a routine and feel at home. I will tell you about my job, but first – in a Bridget Jones kind of a way, here’s a quick insight into a day in the life of Jen:
3.00 am:Wake up. Consider slaughtering roosters. Roll over and try to sleep.
5.30 am:Urge to pee forces self out of bed. Stumble downstairs. This sudden movement has caused a new layer of sweat, so I brave the cold water and have a shower.
6.00 am:Get dressed. Apply layer of DEET to newly formed layer of sweat.
6.30am:Sweep up the new collection of dead insects from floor, throw outside. Boil up water ready for water filter, have breakfast and water plants.
7.30am:Meet Vomit (my assistant and translator - and before you ask - that is his name and everyone finds it hilarious) at the Provincial Office of Education. Put on my sexy VSO helmet and light-weight moto jacket and head out to work.
11.00am:Hopefully, I’ve achieved something at work (more on this later). It’s now officially lunchtime, so I’m free until 2pm. Generally, I’ll go home, have another shower, create a sandwich and have a nap.
2pm:Head out to the office m’neck-eying (alone). Cross fingers in the hope that someone will actually be there, sit in office in an attempt to make friends and improve my Khmer. Have a couple of conversations that generally revolve around the themes of heat, family and food. I may also do some reading about my job, education and Cambodia.
5pm:Get home. Get changed. Flop on bed.
6pm:Invariably I go round to my friend Anne’s, or she comes round to mine.
7pm:Eat food. Most probably rice.
8pm:Talk to the lovely Matt on Skype.
9pm:…. and I’m all tucked up and ready for sleep!