Asian Christmas. or: There is always a first time

I’ve never been a big fan of Christmas since I often experienced it as a fest where people gather because they have to, because everybody does it and because that is what you do on Christmas day. However, this year it was an entirely new experience. It was mostly about doing something for the very first time.

Asian Style

Asian Style

It was my first time to celebrate Christmas abroad, thousands of kilometers away from Switzerland. That I celebrated not only without family but also without any other close friends who I grew up with. In a completely different country with a completely different culture and a completely different belief. A country which only seems to celebrate it because it’s from the west and it’s a reason for another party. Together with people from Switzerland, Germany, America and Cambodia – most of them I’ve known for only a few weeks, maybe months.
It was the first time when snow, cold and real Christmas trees were lacking and the temperature didn’t go underneath 18°C. Not that I would have minded that fact 😉
And last but not least, I was given a huge amount of responsibility for something I’ve never done – not even something similar to it.

Gifts, Grace and Glamour

Christmas. In many countries an annual public holiday which closes the Advent season. Celebrated culturally by a large number of non-Christian and Christian people. Takes place mostly at the end of December, sometimes in January. Stands for gifts, family meetings, delicious food. There is the traditional Christmas tree and other sometimes beautiful, sometimes overdone decoration. It’s all about lights, bling-bling, candles. The radio would play Christmas songs for several weeks long. Children would recite a poem and receive presents. Mothers would bake cookies and create gingerbread houses. Like every year, son James would try to steal some dough. Like every year, grandmother Anna would bring some self-made socks. Like every year, uncle Sam would play the Santa Claus with a white beard and deep voice. Same same, but different. Every year a few days long. That’s it.

That’s it? Really? That’s all what Christmas is about? Just like another feast? Is it all about gifts, gatherings and glamour?

The structured traffic chaos

Traffic in Cambodia might slightly differ from what you are used to. It can definitely take you some time to get used to it. There are loads of motorbikes, Tuk Tuk’s and bicycles and comparably only few cars on the roads. All in all, it looks like one big mess, but it works quite fine.


Flat or wobbling tyres are a common sight. I’ve had twice a flat tyre. But thanks God both times a mechanic was not far away. The first time happened after having been here for three weeks. It was along a long, straight road, a bit out of town. Out of the blue came a small boy and pointed to a fixing place. Little angel. I would’ve had no idea where to go without him. Already three times I ran out of fuel – for which, of course, I have to blame my own lazyness or inattentiveness. Once it happened in the middle of the intersection. What a timing. It’s actually funny, how many smiling faces you see, when you push your motorbike back to a gas station… 😉

Money – friend or enemy?

“Money is numbers and numbers never end. If it takes money to be happy, your search for happiness will never end.”

Money has two sides. It can transform people into “monsters” which don’t care about anything else, but money. It can make you greedy, selfish. It can become like a deity, more important than other people and relationsships, leisure activities, formerly important values. Money has power. Power to destroy…

…and power to create and restore. it can lead to generosity. Money can change lives in a positive way. Not only is it a means to buy food, water, electricity, clothes. It can also be invested in people and organisations helping other people helping themselves.

100 Riel = USD 0.025

100 Riel = USD 0.025

Financial situation in Cambodia

Cambodia is a poor and underdeveloped country. You might not realise it when you only go to the sights and stay in the relatively modern town where they have lights, music and stone houses. They sure don’t like to show their poverty. Everything is made as nice as possible – mostly for the tourists.

Cambodia’s versatility

Yesterday evening, I hit upon the bright idea to create a film of already existing material. For many hours, I was working and totally forgot about the time. Tiredness came, but motivation stayed. As I finished the first draft, I had three hours left to sleep.

Over the whole film I went today again – with filled energy and concentration tanks. It’s purpose is mostly to show the beauty of Cambodia. I tried, to capture the cambodian daily life. A big challenge was to make an end. I could easily expand it to three hours, however, that would cause one or the other eye from you to be tired and my computer to crash. But who knows, there might be another creative night and another sequel …?

All situations are no fake. Nothing was prepared or discussed (apart from the water buffalo which I tried to convince to walk into the water which sadly didn’t help).

It’s said that silence is golden.
Well then, I just want to say:


Life is like a camera: Focus on what is important. Capture the good times. Develop from the negatives. And if things don’t work out, take another shot.

Different. Unique. Enormous.

There they stood in a huddle in front of the entrance from the restaurant Tonle Mekong. Some had already arrived before 5 pm and since then, the group had grown obviously and uncontrollably. It reminded of an ant colony where an ant had found a delicious piece of banana and now the whole colony would gather there. Latest music hits boomed, mixed by our DJ. On the often used main road which leads past the restaurant, other locals stopped their motorbikes and Tuk Tuk’s to observe curiously what was happening. From above, the sea of people looked huge but relaxed. However, when you tried to get to the entrance, you had to realise how close together the crowd stood. A friendly “sorry” wouldn’t help, to fight your way through was more effective. Suspense was in the air. Not many could imagine what they would get to see soon. Excitement was written all over their faces. Excitement for an enormous spectacle, a different, unique celebration. Something, which they’ve never experience. Excitement for the Grand Opening of the ICF Cambodia.

Three weeks earlier, we were holding freshly printed tickets/flyers in our hands. In a meeting we discussed distributing strageties. We attached a certain value to let them know that it was something special and that the receiver should really come. Some doubted that we could give away 3600 free tickets at all.
Ten days later we ran out of tickets. None was left. A team of about 60 people had handed out 3600 tickets within a few days! Needless to say, that especially the expats asked how this could have happened. From the locals we wanted to know, who gave whom how many flyers. It came to light that everybody would give it to friends who would give it to their friends and so on. However, the question remained, will enough people actually come and fill the hall?

Countdown for Grand Opening

Finally! Here it is – the new countdown which we made for the Grand Opening of ICF Cambodia:

Some numbers:
Several hours and 3 sprays I needed to find out a good way to paint the chair
Lots of kilometers we made to get to different places
– During 3 weeks, we were on the streets and spoke to people, asked them to participate in a video and invited them for the Grand Opening
7 days and nights I had time to edit, cut, …, those …
100 films with …
100 different people in …
100 different situations and places
8 times I had to export the project since my computer was so slow, that I couldn’t watch the result in the programme itself
14 hours took the last export – and it was finished …
9 hours before the Grand Opening started – sighs.

“Doing what you like is freedom, …

…liking what you do is happiness.”

I’m sorry for not having posted during the last few weeks. Honestly, I’ve been very busy. Not only was I trying to get very comfortable but also it didn’t take long until I got loads of new tasks and challenges. In the first few days, I thought, I will have an easy start and also will never be extremely stressed. I thought, I will have every week at least half a day time to write for my website. But that was only, what I thought. The reality was completely different. Nowadays, I write as soon as I find some minutes. Once for example, I wrote while my motorbike got cleaned or once when we had to stop filming due to rain. And now since I’m sick, I have time to upload it.
I’m sure, many are asking now, what I do day in, day out. Let me tell you.