On 23rd July, 2018, at around 10:40 at the morning, I will, with all things going to plan, be on a plane that is flying to Bangkok (via Russia). After a day of decompression in Bangkok, I will take another short flight down to Phnom Penh. I will disembark and begin the next two-year stage of my life: living in Cambodia.
Last time, I lived, for most the time, in Siem Reap working in a small school serving impoverished families. I taught English as a foreign language and conducted some training sessions. (In reality, I ate a lot of Fullo with the kids and the teachers, and spent a lot of time playing games and being silly.)
This time round, I will be living in the capital, Phnom Penh. I will also be teaching English iGCSE in English, following the English curriculum, to students already speaking English. I’m working at HOPE School, which is a school for children of Christian NGO workers. Without this infrastructure in place, many of those trying to address many of the issues that Cambodia faces would not be able to do their work. Sadly, as a relic of the Pol Pot’s regime and the terrible genocide he inflicted on his country, Cambodia does need foreign input for now in order to support the development of the country.
Obviously, three weeks isn’t a long time. I’m constantly asked whether I’m excited but emotions are a bit more complex and strange to sum up in one word so I also sound a bit hesitant and insincere when I say it. I’m also aware that I have to moderate my response to that question. I can’t seem too eager to ditch you guys, lest offense is taken. Another reason may be because I’ve been living with the idea of going back for six months now, so it just seems inevitable and a done deal. In the midst of organising and list making, pragmatism tends to rule, emotions tend to be put aside for a bit. But yes, I am excited.
I’m also really looking forward to the long haul flight. It’s weird but I love them. You’re forced to sit down, whilst being insanely productive (travelling 6,000 miles is a massive achievement in my book). Furthermore, you can watch films and people bring you food. It’s amazing. After a crazy academic year, this inforced pause is something that will be much needed.
I do anticipate my arrival in Asia will feel really weird. The moment I smell the humid, sweet Asian air will be mostly filled with relief. It’s been a bit of a long wait and the tough end of term has meant I have felt like may never get there! I’m a little worried I may cry. I’ll have to wait until I’m alone for that, though.
Packing and sorting is generally going well. I just need to work out what I’ll keep and what I won’t. The main issue is books: I have a teetering pile of Bibles and Khmer children’s books that I want to take. I may have to limit these as I only have a 27kg luggage allowance. But time is pressing on! It’s crazy how the time has disappeared.
Keeping in touch
If you wish to keep in touch, there are quite a few ways. This blog is an obvious one! Make sure you hit subscribe to get all the latest news.
I also have a public Facebook page. I’m hoping to use this for regular on-the-go updates and Facebook Live videos. You can find it at www.facebook.com/thomasincambodia. Hit the link; click the like button! This blog is synced to post in the Facebook everytime I write a post. It’s probably the easiest way to have everything together.
I also have Skype and an email address. Send me a private message if you want to receive these.
For my Christian friends, I will be sending out a prayer letter. If it’s something that you want to receive, let me know.
I’ve had a lot of comments from people saying they’d love to visit me. South-East Asia is amazing, so by all means pop over to my side of the world. However, I will be working so it may not be feasible to fit in visitors (my holidays, for instance, don’t follow the British school holidays; my longest holiday is during the wet season which will be the worst time to visit). If you are determined to visit, let me know and see what we can work out. Just don’t be offended if you aren’t able to see much of me.
However, I will happily give advice, link you up with people (like Vitou!) and answer any questions about travelling around Cambodia if you want.