Time passes quickly… like always when having fun. So, with the interviews done and over two months passed, my return back to Sweden is approaching. And I don’t feel ready. Living here for just a while really makes one see new perspectives of things, like always when travelling. If you haven’t been travelling away for longer trip – just do it. Even when feeling the most lost or culturally shocked it makes you appreciate life and respecting other cultures. Being in a development country and researching on such a sensitive topic like politics (which should not be a sensitive topic) makes me so grateful for all the freedoms back home that we just take for granted. Don’t take it for granted! Especially with the political climate in Europe that to some extent is shifting towards closed borders and scepticism against people with different backgrounds and the current political system – a system that is so great comparing to how it could have been!
But being here also offers tolerance and patience – for example in traffic. There is no point even trying to get rushed, instead I just look out the tuktuk and admiring the views or curiously glance at people in their everyday life which is so different to what I’d see back home. At the same time it is not too different. People are still people, trying to make a living and appreciating life sipping frozen cocktails from shotglasses on an outdoor bar in 32 degrees heat. At this bar we got to meet some locals too, the nicest people who kept on buying us snacks, such as different fruits we’d never tried before while discussing the Chinese investments of the country. I have also met two other cambodians, laughing at my rules of playing pool and showing me how it’s really done. These two sisters that I’ll definately miss when going back.
With the thesis submitted earlier than planned I went out to the island Koh Rong Sanloem for some vacation before going back home to defend my thesis. Right now I am stuck in Sihanoukville, a town that has horribly changed within the past few years to Chinese construction work. Hopefully time will pass quickly with a coffe and a book in hand.
Tomorrow I’m flying home to Sweden, back to reality with cold weather and shy people. I am so looking forward to seeing all my friends and family and clean streets though!
Although starting off in Cambodia with two “vacations” straight away, I have had a week now full of interviews, 6 of them actually. These have been so interesting and really an insight in what it is like to be a woman under the political circumstances in Cambodia. I wish I could share it in more details, but I guess you would have to read the thesis when it’s done! Finally I’m finished with interviews, after struggling with cancelled ones from people being too scared to talk.
Besides interviews, me, the other swedish student and Hanna from RWI went to the Swedish embassy to vote in the European election. After that we got a private tour of the embassy, which was situated on the 10th floor in a business tower and offered quite a nice view.
When I’m not writing on my thesis or doing research I am trying out all the different kinds of asian food, cambodian desserts and fresh fruit drinks that Phnom Penh offers! I also ride a lot of tuktuks, explore different neighborhoods in Phnom Penh and gotten to know some locals and expats. With less than 3 weeks to go, I better continue with my writing and discover more of the city!
So, now I’ve been in Phnom Penh for a while and despite minor questionable well-being the first week here, I am totally loving it now! I am currently writing this at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights’ office in the capital of Cambodia, an organization that have incredibly helpful staff! I’ve recieved more help than I’ve wished for, and they have put me into contact with numerous knowledgeable people within the field of womens rights and helped me getting interviewees. They also let me use their office as my work place, which is perfect for focusing on my thesis.
So far, I’ve conducted two interviews with women from an institution here which have been truly helpful and informative. Except for this, I have had meetings with different experts of women’s rights in Cambodia.
Students teaching us traditional dancing in pre-New Year celebrations on campus.
My plan was to start with the interviews as soon as possible after arriving in Phnom Penh, but easier said than done. First it took a while to know exactly what women I wanted to interview and how to get in contact with them, and then it was Khmer New Year; a big holliday when the city cleared out and people went away visiting their family. So me and my friend Kalle (another student doing his MFS here) followed the customs and went on vacation meeting up with my friends from back home in Koh Rong Samloem – a beautiful island! After a few days with beautiful suroundings, a very dangerous sun and no internet we headed back to the mainland and visited Kampot. Also this place was lovely, with welcoming people and a beautiful national park which we went to on scooters.
Back in Phnom Penh after a week of holliday I managed to get two interviews before having to leave the country for a visa run. These went really well, with such helpful people participating and the material was brought with me for retyping in Vietnam. Writing interspersed with sightseeing, I managed to meet up with my old friends again as well as new friends while seeing more of beautiful Vietnam. After a few days in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) and Mui Ne I headed back to Phnom Penh ready for my next interviews!
(Since it doesn’t work to upload more pictures, I’ll share more next time!)