Day 2: April 5th, 2010 – TAT Guesthouse, Phenom Penh, Cambodia

Did a lot today. Met a guy named Kevin from Florida, USA. He’s a fellow volunteer with IVHQ. Also met Matt. Kev and I saw most of the main sights of the city today: S-21 (an elementary school that was turned into a prison), the Killing Fields (where the people from S-21 went to be executed), Wat Phnom (the temple that marks the founding place of Phnom Penh), the Grand Palace (where the king lives) and the Independence Monument (built to celebrate Cambodia’s independence from France, but not erected until much later).

Work will start tomorrow. Orientation day. Maybe I’ll be seeing some of the same stuff as today, but certainly not as much. I was brought in by an organization called International Volunteer HQ, based in New Zealand, but technically I work for an organization called Volunteer Action for Cambodia, which is supported by Star Kampuchea. Confusing, I know. Total cost? $570 for a 2 week stay in Cambodia. Not bad given that they took me at the last minute. Food and accommodation is provided. I did some math and I think it cost me something like $40 per day to do this volunteer thing for 2 weeks. Is that reasonable? I’m looking at what I spent today, ca. $15 USD, and consider the accommodation prices, $6 USD, maybe I overpaid. I know I’m supporting the community by paying the fees, and paying for the administrative fees, but it still sits on my mind. I think I found some more organizations in Cambodia to show in my doc, especially some arts organizations.

Phenom Penh, a city named after the woman who is said to have founded the area way back in the 14th century. Phnom Penh translates to “Hill of Penh”. It’s a dirty city, and cheap, two things that typically endear me to a place. I’m not enraptured by the city by any means, but that may be due to all of the death and destruction I’ve heard about in Cambodia so far. It was a welcome breather to view the Wat Phnom after the two horrendous sights we saw in the morning (S-21 and the Killing Fields). A lot of poverty that can be seen all over the place. It’s the first time I’ve been to a place like this.

Haven’t done much creative writing lately, been too busy moving and training Muay Thai. Wondering if I’ll be able to shoot my first feature when I get back to Winnipeg later this summer. This documentary project is also taking up a lot of my mental space.


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