My 10 months in Cambodia

Nagu lubatud, kirjutan veidi oma 10st kuust, mis veetsin elades Phnom Penhis, Kambodža pealinnas. Paljud ilmselt teavad, aga kindlasti on ka paljusid, kes ei tea miks ja kuidas ma sinna kaugesse eksootilisse riiki üldse sattusin. Magistriõpingute ajal Leideni Ülikoolis Hollandis otsustasin, et tore oleks oma teoreetilised teadmised kuskil praktikasse panna ja Kagu-Aasia tundus ideaalne paik, kus seda teha. Kõik läks plaanipäraselt, pratikakoht oli olemas ja 21 Juuli 2015 maandus meie lennuk Phnom Penhis.

Olen enne Kagu-Aasias reisinud, aga ilmselgelt kuskil pikemat aega elada on ikka veidikene teine teeme ja olgem ausad –  Kambodža on klass omaette. Tegemist on antud regiooni ühe vaeseima ja korrupeerunud riigiga, seega kultuurišhokk esimestel kuudel oli ikka meeletu. Kuigi Kambodžalased on maailma rõõmsamad ja abivalmimad inimesed vist üldse (suurele ebavõrdusele olenemata). Kuigi mitte alati, mul juhtus ikka kahtlaseid olukordi ka, ükskord hommikul rattaga tööle sõites sain mõnusa kolaka vastu õlga politseinikult mittemillegi eest (arvan ise, et kuna võib-olla sõitsin tema tahtmise jaoks liiga aeglaselt…). Sai avaldus esitatud Siseministeerimisse Euroopa Liidu Delegatsiooni poolt, aga noh.. ei juhtu ju mittemidagi..

Ma ei valeta öeldes, et esimestel paaril kuul ma tegelikult mitmeid kordi nutsin end öösel magama ja tahtsin lahkuda niipea kui võimalik. See lokkav ebavõrdsus rikaste ja vaeste (ja seal elavate välismaalaste vahel) tegi mind nii kurvaks ja sõnaotses mõttes ajas mind kohati hulluks. Aga aja möödudes, rutiini tekkides ja uute sõprade leidmisega muutus olukord palju paremaks. Ja elu väljaspool pealinna on otseloomulikult teistsugune – loodus lokkab ja ilusaid templeid jne leiab iga nurga pealt, kuigi samas ka meeletut vaesust.


V
eidi tööst-praktikatest:
Kuigi esmase praktikakohaga ei läinud väga hästi (polnud piisavalt tööd mulle kahjuks), siis suhteliselt kiiresti leidsin uue praktikakoha, kus veetsin poole kohaga projektipõhiselt järgnevad kuus kuud. Tegemist on suure rahvusvahelise lasteorganisatsiooniga (Friends-International), mille peamine eesmärk on abistada tänavalapsi ja nende perekondi. Praktika raames sain suurepärase võimaluse külastada Phnom Penhi vaesemaid linnaosasi, kus antud marginaliseeritud grupp igapäevaselt elab, tõeliselt silmiavav kogemus, mis paneb enda elu ja võimalusi kindlasti palju rohkem hindama (ja eeldatavalt vähem virisema mõttetute “esimese-maailma” probleemide üle!). Lisaks antud praktikale sain suurepärase võimaluse teha 6-kuulist praktikat Kambodžas asuvas Euroopa Liidu Delegatsioonis inimõiguste ja poliitiliste suhete alal. Antud praktika raames kohtusin mitmete riikide diplomaatide ja kohalike erakondade liidritega – jällegi hindamatu kogemus.

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Kolleegid/praktikandid Euroopa Liidu Delegatsioonis / Colleagues/fellow interns at the EU Delegation

Ja nagu juba oma kõige esimeses postituses mainisin, maikuus alustasin 6-kuulist praktikat (millest ilmselt iga rahvusvaheliste suhete üliõpilane unistab!) kohalikus ÜRO Inimõiguste Ülemkomissaari kontoris. Kuigi kohapeal sain antud praktikat teha ainult mõned nädalad enne ärakolimist, siis tänu mu suurepärasele juhendajale ja tervele kontorimeeskonnale saan praktikat internetivahendusel jätkata siitsamast Sydneyst. Seda uudist kuuldes tahtsin muidugi rõõmust lakke hüpata ja olen kõigile kaasosalistele ülimalt tänulik!

Kambodža jääb kindlasti mu südamesse ja hinge, kui üks olulisemaid riike, mis mulle 10 kuu jooksul õpetas/andis kogemusi rohkem kui olen kogunud oma ülejaanud siiamaani elatud 26 aasta jooksul. Soovitan igalühel, kellel võimalik kasvõi mõnda aega end totaalselt teises elukeskkonnas elades proovile panna. Õpetab nii mõndagi su enda kohta ja paneb pisikesi asju elus palju rohkem hindama.

Aga aitab jutust, ALLPOOL mõned huvitavamad pildid, mis Kambodžas nende 10 kuu jooksul tegin.

As promised, I will write a little about my 10 months I spent living in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. Many probably already know, but I’m sure there’s people who don’t know how and why I ended up in this relatively unknown and exotic country far-far-far from Europe. During my Master’s degree studies at Leiden University (the Netherlands) I decided that it would be smart to put my theoretical knowledge into practice in a developing country and as one of the most poorest regions in the world,  South East Asia seemed to be an ideal place to aim for. Everything went according to the plans (at least I thought so…), I had an internship position organised and on 21 July 2015 our plane arrived at the Phnom Penh International Airport.

I have travelled in South East Asia before, but obviously travelling is very different to actually living somewhere for a longer period of time – and to be honest – Cambodia is a tough country to live in. It is one of the poorest and corrupt countries in the world, thus I experienced a massive amount of culture shock during my first months I spent there. It was so hard to handle the massive gap between the rich (including expats) and poor Cambodians, so painfully unfair. Despite their struggles, Cambodians are the most nicest and smiliest people I have ever met.

But not always – I guess some of the culture shock I had was intensified by the strange experiences I went through also – as an example, during one occasion, I was riding my bicycle to work when at a crossing I was slapped on my shoulder (pretty painful) by a policeman for no real reason. Though, I assume it was because I was going too slow for his preference… We wrote an “application” to the Ministry of Interior, but obviously never heard anything back.

I’m not lying when I’m saying that during my first months I cried myself to sleep pretty often and wanted to leave really bad. But after some time had passed, routine settled in and I made some pretty cool friends, the situation got immediately better. And the weekend trips we were able to take outside of the capital city gave some nice energy boosts – pretty countryside, greenery and loads of cool temples. But of course, high levels of poverty. So unfair.

A bit about my work-internships:

Although the original internship I started didn’t work out so well (they didn’t have enough work for me..unfortunately), I found a new internship position quite fast. The organisation is called Friends-International and I spent amazing 6-months doing part-time project internship with them. It is a big international organisation, which main goal is to assist marginalised (street) children and their families. During my internship I was able to visit the poorest neighbourhoods in Phnom Penh – really eyeopening experience, which should make anyone appreciate their own opportunities for life much higher (and hopefully less “complainy” about “first world problems”). In addition to this internship, I was SO LUCKY to start a 6-month “human rights and political affairs” traineeship at the European Union Delegation in Cambodia. During my traineeship, I met with multiple diplomats and with the leaders of local political parties – another priceless experience.

As mentioned during my first post, in May I started a 6-month internship (something that any International Relations student dreams of…) at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Cambodia. Though I was only able to attend the internship in Cambodia for a couple of weeks, thanks to my amazing supervisor (and the whole office team!) I am able to continue my internship via Internet here in Sydney. When I heard the official news a week ago, I was so happy and wanted to jump through the roof! I’m so grateful for it as being busy and productive makes the whole chemotherapy experience much more bearable and of course – who wouldn’t want to intern for the UN?

To be honest, Cambodia will stay in my heart and thoughts as one of the most important  country I have ever lived. Mainly because of all the knowledge and valuable experience I learned – definitely much more in these 10 months than I ever did during the rest of my 26 years so far. I strongly advise anyone to live (even if only short term) in a developing country. It sure is an eyeopening experience and will teach you many new things – even about yourself.

Scroll down and you’ll see some more interesting/nicer pictures (I think…) I made during my 10-month stay in Cambodia:

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Traditsiooniline Kambodža pulmaeelne photoshoot, mida paljud turistid/välismaalased tegemas käivad!/ Traditional Cambodian pre-wedding photoshoot that many expats do for fun!


Phnom Penh: 

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Jõeäärne ala, kus paljud marginaliseeritud elavad paatides / Riverside area, where many marginalised people live (often within the boats they use for work)

 

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Ainult natukene liiklust, eks? / Just a little bit of traffic, huh?

 

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Maailmailusamad päikeseloojangud korteri aknast / Prettiest sunsets from the apartment window

 

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Tantsime Kambodža pulmas / Dancing at a Cambodian wedding

Siem Reap & Angor:

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Angkori templites / Angkor temples
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Angkori templis / In an Angkor temple

 

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Angkori templites (Tomb Rideri filmist)  / Angkor temples (from Tomb Rider movie)

 

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Riisiistandused vihmaperioodid Siem Reap’i läheduses / Rice fields during rainy season around Siem Reap

Kampot:

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Kampoti ümbruses / Around Kampot

 

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Sõitsime jalgrattaga kuskil Kampoti lähedal riisiistandustes (kuivaperioodil) / Bicycle ride and surrounded by ricefields somewhere near Kampot (during dry season)

 

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Mereanni-paradiis (kui ma veel taimetoitlane polnud, haha!) Kepis / Seafood-lovers’ paradise (when I wasn’t plant-based yet, haha!) in Kep

 

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Kõige ilusamad päikeseloojangul Kampotis / Prettiest sunsets ever in Kampot

 

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Päikeseloojang Kampotis / Sunset in Kampot

I hope you enjoyed the pictures, xoxo!

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