I am a rubbish adult. I’m somewhat typical of my generation that, if left to my own devices, I would happily not get out of my pajamas and live off custard creams. So, the bar wasn’t particularly high when I arrived in Cambodia.

A few weeks ago I got an email from my good friends from the UK office of the organisation I’m with.  Attached was a form designed to ensure that I’m living well and happy in my new environment, asking me questions about lifestyle choices. It did serve to highlight a few things, mainly how rubbish I am at looking after myself in my new home. However, thinking back, I have had a few good reasons.

Not eating

There have been some weeks when I’ve not been eating properly. There have been various factors that have caused this. These have included

  • Feeling a bit unwell. I have been lucky and I have not be disastrously ill. However, there have been days when my digestive system has gone off piste and I’d lose my appetite. Also, you know that feeling where you are unsure if you’re hungry or sick? Normally I would assume I was hungry but here I’ve been more cautious. So, somewhat ironically, whenever I’ve been feeling hungry, this has caused me to lose my appetite.
  • It’s too hot. It’s simply too hot to contemplate cooking over a stove. The kitchen has no air conditioning but our rooms do. Sometimes, I’ve had to stop cooking half-way through and have a shower or stand under the air-con to cool down.
  • It’s too much hassle. Of course, the other option is cold food. Even then it can be too difficult to eat anything other than jam on bread. Salad seems like an option until you remember the process that you have to go through so you don’t get E. coli. A Caesar salad isn’t that appetising after you’ve had to bleach it and your food smells like school swimming lessons.
  • I still have some anxiety around eating and contamination. Recent Google searches have included, “what does salmonella taste like?”
Salmonella: the tasteless killer
  • Going to the shops is also hot work or involves more brain power than you’d think (i.e. a foreign language and two foreign currencies).
  • The ants got there first. Those blighters are quick!


  • During the first few weeks, it was hard for me to sit down and not sweat like I’d got some viscous fever. Adding exercise to the mix would have been a disaster.
  • Being in Phnom Penh for a short time meant that I couldn’t be bothered to create an exercise routine for myself. (I have looked at some gyms in Siem Reap, though.)
  • I live on the top floor. That’s enough exercise for one day.


  • I would like to say I’m living by faith, but it’s more that I’m living by ignorance. (I’m sure someone is going to make a pop at religions in general with that comment.)
  • In order to eat properly and circumnavigate the list of problems associated with eating, I tend to eat out quite a bit.
  • I don’t want to be trapped in the house, but there aren’t freely available places to go. So I end up paying to go places.
  • I don’t have my own transport and tuk tuks can get expensive if you use them every day.

Spiritual well-being

There will be weeks that are really good (I made notes on Romans 1&2 using John Stott’s commentary; I memorised twenty verses of Scripture and I read two books about the Holy Spirit.)

Then there will be the ordinary weeks that, well, don’t look like that. One of the biggest problems I have is that I date all my Bible reading notes. This really only serves to highlight the good days and the bad days. I should stop doing that.

(This topic is a book in itself- I know because it’s currently unread on my Kindle.)

Quite often, people who go away and live abroad are perceived as some sort of super humans. However, as this post highlights, this is clearly not the case. There needs to be honesty about it. But at the same time, we can’t all sit around nodding heads in a supportive manner. That’s why questions like the ones sent in the email are important. That’s why mums have an important job to do (“Are you eating properly?” “I hope you’re washing your hands.” “Remember to look before you cross the road.”). So feel free to ask me those important questions and check up on me!