Looking back over my blog, particularly at the photographs, I can see just how easy it is to create an impression of luxury and paradise. And why not? Although I knew I was coming here to work, I also knew that this year would probably turn out to be one of the hardest, but one of the best years of my life. I expected that, no matter what, I would love it. I think everyone expected, and still expects, that.
So here’s what the photos don’t tell you. For the last couple of weeks (or, if I’m honest about it, the last month), I’ve been finding life in Cambodia very difficult. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s that I don’t love it, and this is a very strange realization to have had. It’s like when you start university and everyone asks you how it is, and you just know that the auto-response to this question should be “Fantastic thanks!”. So what happens when it isn’t? I feel like the fact that I don’t love it is some big guilty secret – like there’s something wrong with me for thinking this. How could you not love it?
Well, the novelty of being woken up at 4am most mornings has well and truly worn off, and I’m tired. It’s hot. I miss my family and I miss my boyfriend. Maybe that would all be okay if I really felt like what I was doing was worth it. But I’m just not overly sure it is. There is so much built into the politics Cambodia, and it is so saturated with NGOs that you really do start to wonder what work you can do – and is it worth all the frustration and heart-ache? This is not a plea for people to tell me that my just being here is making a difference to peoples lives, because that really is not the case – I’m not even sure how much people actually want the help we are offering. And all this is very hard to come to terms with. Cambodia has surprised me in many ways, but I really didn’t expect to not like it all that much. Well, I mean – Cambodia’s great, but living it, working it and breathing it is something different entirely.