02 November 2010

43 more sleeps ...

When I went to Cambodia last December, my motives were many ... I wanted to escape the crazy razzamatazz of Christmas and the loneliness of a season traditionally spent with family, I wanted to pass on to those less fortunate some of my good fortune in life, and I wanted to explore a new country to discover more about its people and culture.

When I was first contemplating where to go and what to do, I had no specific ideas. I googled, checked out various travel company websites, saw something about volunteering in Vietnam and quite liked the idea of that. Then I posted a comment about the ideas that were spinning round in my mind on Facebook. Almost immediately a friend, Christine, told me about a friend of hers, Anna, who was then in Cambodia, volunteering with the UK-based charity Globalteer. Christine put me in touch with Anna, emails were exchanged, Anna recommended Globalteer highly and was enthusiastic about Cambodia.

In just 24 hours my decision was made!

And I knew I'd made the right decision when everything just fell into place over the following few days. I applied and was immediately accepted as a volunteer, my travel agent cousin found me a good airfare, and very soon I began counting the sleeps.

Little did I know then the lasting effect the trip would have on me. I shared delicious meals, incredible sightseeing adventures, and beer-soaked pub quizzes with like-minded fellow volunteers from around the world, many of whom are now firm friends, especially my 'partner in crime' (her words!), Marianne. The crew at Globalteer impressed me with their affability and professionalism in often-challenging conditions. The people of Cambodia overwhelmed me with their broad smiles, warm welcome and eternal optimism in the face of sometimes extreme poverty. And the delightful children of Anjali House touched my heart, with their incessant chatter, cheeky grins and unstoppable energy.

Even as I stepped on to the plane to come home, I knew I had to go back. And now I have just 43 more sleeps till I once again tread the earth of the Khmer kingdom. I can hardly wait!