Sunday, January 31, 2010

Living in Cambodia on 75 cents a day

After returning to site from my glorious 10 day trip to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, I came back to site with about $80 in my pocket. The following two weekends I proceeded to go to my provincial town and then Phnom Penh. Needless to say, when I came back from PP, I was broke as a joke. I had enough to get back to site with $10 left over and two weeks until my next "pay day". Could I survive at site for two weeks on 75 cents a day?

It took some heavy budgeting and a severe case of diarrhea but I made it with a dollar to spare:) Not only did I spend all my money in Phnom Penh but also picked up a lovely intestinal bug which kept me at home (and near the toilet) for four days. You could light about 10 houses for a week on the power I unleashed in that 4 by 6 foot room. When and if you ever come to Cambodia, take this advice seriously - DO NOT eat fresh fruit and vegetable without peeling them or washing them in bleach first AND always pick places you know will take food prep seriously. The upside of not doing these things is that you may get very ill and not want to eat. And if you don't want to eat then you won't spend any money. And if you don't spend any money then you might be able to afford the $20 entry fee into Angkor Wat.

Enough about my cash strapped, volunteer life. The next two weeks the entire high school where I teach will be taking their semester finals. As a volunteer, I do not need to be present during their exams and so I will be sitting under a mango tree and doing what I do best, studying Khmer, reading and/or staring into space. Having learned my lesson about going to Phnom Penh too often, I am opting to stay at site and only go into my provincial town when absolutely necessary.

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