Saying goodbye to all relatives and friends was a long process which started already one month before I left Switzerland. Personally, I think this is one of the worst parts of such an adventure. Don’t get me wrong, it sure is an important time and most of the “last conversations” were funny and encouraging. However, I sometimes wished that it wouldn’t last so long since I don’t like saying “bye”. Even though I was looking forward to this new challenge, I was sad leaving behind all these people, who I love so much. Once more, I’m thankful for our modern world. Nowadays, Skype, Whatsapp, Email and co. enable us to stay in touch.
Originally, I was supposed to fly from Lisbon (where I had enjoyed a short city trip with my sister) to Amsterdam, Kuala Lumpur (capital of Malaysia) and then Siem Reap, Cambodia. Due to the delay of my first plane, I missed the connecting flight. Fortunately, they had already changed my bookings. The new route was via Istanbul (Turkey) and Seoul (South Korea) and took ten hours more. I didn’t mind it, thus I got to see some other airports and airlines and that sounded like sightseeing to me – just a bit different. 😉
On the plane to Istanbul I had a great word with an American guy sitting next to me. We talked about helping and oneself needing help on his own, about money and gaining experiences. Having two young sons he said, that he wished they had such plans once they’re old enough. His encouraging words, picked with a care I haven’t experienced often, directly touched my heart. He left me, being grateful and even more motivated for what was to come.
In Amsterdam I had got all boarding cards for the following three flights. On the one to Cambodia was written “to: PSEUDO CITY” (picture). The lady who had given it to me, said it would still be alright. As I was waiting in Seoul, out of the blue came a lady working in the airport and asked me if I’d fly to Siem Reap. As I said yes, she wanted to see my boarding card and told me that I would have to change the ticket into a valid one at the transfer desk. She left me being speechless; how could she know … ?
I finally arrived in hot and humid Siem Reap on Friday, 4th of July, around 10.30 pm. Although, I haven’t slept much I was wide awake and very excited about what was to come. My friends picked me up from the airport. Sitting in the Tuk Tuk (Cambodian Taxi – picture), I soaked in the smell of the streets, the sound of the countless motorbikes, the picture of people sitting right next to the street and having a talk, the market stalls with the tourists, the whole atmosphere in all. It was one huge déjà vu. We passed by the hotel where I had first met Elias who had brought me to ICF 9 months ago. We passed by the market where I had met some awesome Khmer women. We passed by the little river where I had filmed number two, the fisherman, for my countdown-projet, …….
As if it had been yesterday.
The only thing I could think about was: I made it! This is my new home. This is, where I’m going to live for the next few months. And it did kind of feel like home.
I would lie, if I said, the start was easy. From one minute to the other, everything had changed: language, climate, culture, people, food, … Obviously, it helped a lot that it wasn’t my first time in Cambodia. However, for me the most difficult part was to find out how everything worked as well as if and how I’d fit into the wildly mixed team.
The next day we had a poolparty. First, we had lunch together (picture) until it started raining and then we jumped into the pool and played games, threw stuff at each other and so on.
I reckon, on Sunday broke most of the ice: Due to the three celebrations in ICF I met many Khmer for the first time. Since they’re open-minded and friendly, we had a lot of fun together. Also in the evening, when we went for dinner, we enjoyed ourselves a lot. That was pretty much the point when I thought for myself: Now I have “landed”.
On the picture you see the motorbike which I could buy from a volunteer who had left a few days before I arrived.
Furthermore, through Elias I got connected to a landlord who rents out furnished one-bedroom-apartments. Funny thing is, normal people move out of their parents home to another apartment which is in the same town or close by, say, 5km or 10km or maybe 50km. Well, I do that a bit differently, my very first home is about 10’000km away! I might be a bit crazy. Or so. 🙂