Goodbyes

The art of the goodbye is entirely lost on British people. I find them so awkward that I have been know to just sneak off in social occasions. I don’t do extreme emotions very well; I try to avoid them by waffling and saying stupid things. However, because I don’t often miss things or get particularly homesick, I didn’t realise how difficult I’d find this round of goodbyes.

Last week, I moved from the home I’ve been in for the last five years. So that meant saying goodbye to housemates I’ve lived with and become good friends with. Those goodbyes were difficult. It was strange closing the door on the room you slept in nearly every night for years, knowing you wouldn’t again.


Today, I said goodbye to two good friends. We went to a cool board game café in Southampton and played games. When it was time to say goodbye, I definitely reverted to awkward babbling. When I finally did leave, I was pretty sad.

This all seems a bit ridiculous, especially as it is only for a year. Furthermore, I’ve said goodbye to people countless times, often for similar amounts of time. I don’t know why it feels harder this time round.

There is the case that there will be some significant life moments I will not be there for (friends getting married, babies being born). Furthermore, a lot of people my age are in life stages where things change. There’s no guarantee that everyone here now will be still in the area when I get back.

But, it isn’t a permanent goodbye. I’ll be back. And there’s always Skype.

You’re invited…

Before you get excited and jump to the conclusion that I’m paying for everyone to come to Cambodia with me, I’m not. That’d be absurd.


But you are invited to something! I’m having a farewell picnic. So, join me and my friends, colleagues, relatives and members of the general public who have meandered into the group. Here are the details:

When? Saturday 9th July, 4 pm

Where? The Common. Probably at the top because there’s a music festival on at the same time.

There’s a large open space near the top. If you’re coming from The Cowherds, continue up the tree-lined path that starts to the right of it. Pass the boating pond (the concrete hole full of algae with filthy dogs splashing in and out), and onto a clear area with a cross roads. I’ll be somewhere there.

If you’re starting from the Highfield side, go under The Avenue via the underpass, and you’re pretty much there. If you’re starting anywhere else… you’re on your own.


What should I bring? Cakes, drinks, picnic things. 

Please don’t feel the need to bring gifts or anything else. First, because I really appreciate you just being there. Second, I have a limited amount of space in my luggage so I might not be able to keep it anyway!

It’d be great to see you there! If the weather looks rubbish, stay tuned for a change of plan!

Off to Cambodia

It’s about 48 days until I fly to Cambodia. (I’ve not been counting; I tried to book my insurance policy but it wouldn’t let me and told me I had to wait 18 days until I could.) That’s not long at all. That’s around six and a half weeks.

So, here are the answers to all the things you wanted to know about my trip!

Haven’t you already written a blog about this?

Well, yes. But as MI6 (who I secretly work for) thought it could expose some specific details of the operation they politely requested I take the blog down. Essentially, for one reason or another, I started the blog again. You can ask why, but you probably won’t get the truth: it makes for dull reading.

So Cambodia? That’s in South America?

No, that would be Colombia.

Africa?

You’re thinking of Cameroon or Comoros.

Asia. That’s what I thought first.

Uh huh. Sure you did. It is in Asia, between Thailand and Vietnam.

So what’s it like?

Well, I don’t know from personal experience just yet. That’s what this blog is for. I’ve heard it’s hot and tropical. It’s a poor country, ravaged by political turmoil during the twentieth century. Much of the country, however, is beautiful.

Have you got your jabs done?

Yes and no. I have got most my boosters done. I decided against getting the Japanese encephalitis vaccine due to cost and the limited likelihood of getting it. I also haven’t had my rabies vaccine. There were three reasons: the cost, I’d have to get treatment regardless of whether I got it or not, I’m in a city with a hospital. Also, I hate needles and they’re meant to be particularly painful, but that wasn’t a main reason (who am I kidding? It was the only reason). However, I’m now regretting this decision but it’s a bit too late to change it.

Last week I met someone who spent time in Vietnam and didn’t get their rabies on the same reasoning that I did. The conversation took a turn for the worse when she said, “what no one tells you is that the treatment is different if you haven’t had your jabs. If you had it done it’s just the one injection. If you haven’t had it it’s four needles, each as thick as your thumb: one in each thigh and one in each arm. I know because I got bitten by a dog. The injections were the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced.” I nearly cancelled my flights then and there.

What are you doing?

Working for the secret services. In reality, I’m working for the Bridge of Hope school in Siem Reap.

For the first month or so I’ll be doing some training and language learning in Phnom Penh as well.

Where are you living?

Somewhere in Siem Reap.

What day do you actually leave?

Thursday 21st July. I fly via Amsterdam and Taipei.

How long are you there for?

A year.

What will you miss most?

I think it will be a bit of a surprise. The things you think you’ll miss you mentally guard yourself against, then I expect something really bizarre, like the look of our traffic lights, becomes something you long for (I’m sat looking out on a busy junction, which accounts for that ridiculous example).

I’ll probably miss the little people in my life. My niece is fantastic and provides a lot of joy when I get to see her. A lot of my friends have wonderful kids, and one couple has another due. It’s always a privilege to see children grow up, so I’ll be sad to miss a year of that. They’ll be so different by the time I return.

I’ll miss my year ten class a lot. I’m sad that I don’t get to see them finish their school journey and I know some of them might find it more difficult without me. It’s the only thing that has actually caused a tear. (Just the one, and no one saw it so it doesn’t count. I’m not sentimental at all).

How can I support you?

Comment on the blog! Please do. I know it sounds needy but I will really appreciate the kind words from other people, especially as the run up gets stressful and when I’m in a new and foreign country. Also, ask questions! Tell me what you want to know!