I’ve always had this strong sense of curiosity. It’s always burned through my flesh like a hot knife. I don’t remember how it all started. I guess it was just one of those personality traits that you develop over time. I go through my phases, I really do. My friends give me stick about it all the time. How I can go through one phase, and the next month I will be in the middle of another. I get obsessed and I immerse myself, whether that may have to do with a type of sub-culture, a genre of music, or even a certain food.
To say that my move to Siem Reap has been an interesting chain of events would be a major understatement. Coming from a place like Sydney, it has its differences in lifestyle and let me be clear when I say that they are very distinct in their comparisons. To be honest, I was feeling rather cocky and over-confident about the whole idea before leaving home. “Oh, how difficult could it be? I’ve already been to Siem Reap for like 2 days once. I know how it is there”.
My decision to move to Cambodia is a separate story on its own. I much rather begin with that, as I want to keep you hanging, coming back for more. But hey, the cliffhangers are all for your own entertainment. Leaving behind the job, the friends, the family and the most comfortable bed in the world in the pursuit of something my father referred to as ‘crazy’, has taken over a year of decision making and planning. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to move to Cambodia. I mean, who does that? Well, I’m sure it’s been done before, but this was not how it happened for me.
I graduated from University at the end of 2015 with a business degree. The corporate world seemed so exciting at first. I lost track of how much money I blew buying suits and Friday night booze in that first year as a young, ambitious grad. I moved from finance, where I was surrounded by a sea of suits, ‘money talk’ and celebratory advisors who were brilliant at closing deals, to e-commerce companies who threw fancy office cocktail parties and had the tech boys in constant fits of rage over their intense office ping-pong competitions. Oh, some great times.
My previous trip to South East Asia was probably one of the key influencers when making the decision to move to Siem Reap. I stayed in a rural Thai village for one month where I taught English at the local primary school and also took part in an elephant project. The second month was spent road tripping around Vietnam. So stunning! I always wanted to do volunteer work in an overseas country.
During my time at University, I recall wanting to do some volunteer work overseas before graduating. I would call up volunteering companies and as soon as they gave me quotes on costs, I would pick my jaw off the ground and hang up the phone in a state of disappointment. But, we got there eventually. After a year of full time work I had enough money to catch a flight to Thailand to partake in a volunteer program.
This experience changed it all, from my perspective to my goals to my values. As a first time solo traveler, I was thrown right in the deep end and pushed way out of my comfort zone. How I had pictured my life and my career to turn out 5 years prior to this event was so different, I could never have possibly imagined it. If you gave me a crystal ball 5 years ago, I would have been opposed to the prospect of moving to Cambodia. I find it quite interesting how one small event, that you thought nothing of at the time, has the capabilities of changing the whole direction of your life in such drastic ways.
I made my way back to Sydney. Back to the corporate world, but I only had my eye on one prize. I wanted to move abroad, set up a new life and get into some work that I enjoyed. I never enjoyed any of those jobs I worked back in Sydney. They were so boring and unfulfilling. The atmosphere of the corporate was fun, but that’s one perk out of the many negatives that I could no longer justify putting up with. From the time I got back to the time I came to Cambodia, it had been a year and a half. I had no idea where I was going to move. I had no idea what job I would land. I had initial plans on moving to South America as I had never been there before, but I couldn’t find any jobs that catered to my zero knowledge of Spanish.
I looked at getting into humanitarian work, but I was going to have to pull money out of my own pocket for some of these jobs. I wanted to get into the field of humanitarianism and travel. These were my passions. I needed something that was going to give me an income for my basic living expenses, and I needed a job that was worth leaving my own for at the time. Something that I felt connected to. Despite the obstacles during my search, that idea of moving overseas to work abroad would never fail to show itself each and every day for a whole year and a half. I became obsessed.
To be continued…