12 things you learn on a bloggers trip

 1. Instagramming your lunch is obligatory

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2. The first question in any cafe/restaurant/hotel/airport: is there wifi?

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Copyright Rich Wells

3. 4 way extension leads are a vital packing requirement. (And that doesn’t make for an interesting photo, so have a shot of two cows.)

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4. Mosquitos make a satisfied squelch when squashed on a screen. But leave a bit of a smear.

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Copyright Rich Wells

5. Waiting for Buffer to schedule your tweets is a legitimate excuse for being late for breakfast.

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6. That meme about wifi being added to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs isn’t a joke. It really is that important. Or at least on this trip.

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7. Last minute charging of all devices before a 20 hour journey home.

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8. Realising how much of what you want to do is dependent on tech hard to access in the very place you’re visiting to blog about.

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9. Realising that if the tech doesn’t work, that’s okay. A blog can wait a few hours, or a day. There’s also such a thing as paper and pencil.

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10. Sometimes photos make things look better than the reality (it was still spectacular).

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11. Travelling to a part of the world to see the work of a brilliant charity is a privilege and an honour. I have loved it.

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12. And seeing Buddhist monks on the back of motorbikes stops being quite so surprising.

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If you’ve enjoyed following our trip to Cambodia and want to keep up with how the church in Tonle Bati continues to transform lives, why don’t you give to Tearfund? Donate at www.tearfund.org/bloggers  and you’ll get regular updates on what your money is doing.

 

 

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In which I ask you to donate to Tearfund

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Over the past week I’ve written a lot about my time in Cambodia with Tearfund. This is my sixteenth post, with half of them being here and half in various places across the internet.

And in most of them I’ve ended with a line letting you know how you can keep up with what we’ve been doing, and how you can give money to support Tearfund’s work.

That was always an explicit part of this trip: to visit one of the communities featured in Tearfund’s See For Yourself initiative and tell the stories to help bring them our reader’s attention and encourage them to be part of an initiative where each month they get a prayer update from the village, and every few months a video update.

It’s also been the only part of the trip I’ve found even slightly stressful. The rest has been busy, new, unusual, unexpected, warming, and hot. But the target of getting people to sign up to give money is not something I’m used to or something I find particularly easy.

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I’ve felt uncomfortable writing lines asking people to give, I’ve felt worse when I’ve added them to posts on other people’s blogs.

And yet I am fully convinced of the value of the work supported in Cambodia. I haven’t got the least bit of hesitation in saying that. Perhaps it’s just me being a bit English but I want to preface it by saying: “I’m really sorry for the inconvenience, but if you wouldn’t mind, and if you do, don’t worry, but if perhaps you might be able to, could you possibly give Tearfund some money?”

13354971775_15ed75af35_bWhile I have been here I have seen the people trained, and the projects that have come out of the training. There is often scope for material donations, for wells, for toilets, for classrooms. But the commitment of this programme to people and investing in them, and doing so through the church which will remain, rather than a charity which might move on after a few years, is both obvious and exciting.

Tearfund are supporting work that makes a difference, and doing so in a way that is sustainable, and centred on the role of the local church engaging and changing its community. And your money can make a difference to communities who struggle to feed their families, who are placed in crisis when their chickens die, or the market pays a poor rate for the pig they’d banked on supporting them. It can prompt churches to lead the way providing education, raising awareness about healthcare and improving savings for the whole community.

As I prepare to return to the UK tomorrow, please support Tearfund. If you give as part of this initiative you’ll be able to keep up with the people we met this week, and hear about the impact your support is having.

To give online go to www.tearfund.org/bloggers and hit the button in the banner image.

To give by text just text HOPE TODAY to 70444 – the first 60 to sign up to give will also receive a print from my talented fellow blogger Rich Wells. This will subscribe you to give £3 a month to See For Yourself, Tearfund.  It will be added to your mobile phone bill and Tearfund receives 100% of the money. This subscription service will cost £3.00 per month until you send STOP to 70080.

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Reflections on a week in Cambodia

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I began yesterday on the top floor balcony of the pastor’s house in Tonle Bati. I woke to the dawn chorus that arrived before the sun. In the day I took in two church services, almost all of which were in Khmer and untranslated. I had rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner – five meals on the trot in all, and realised fairly late that it was the first day in a long time I had gone without tea or coffee. It ended with the first spot of souvenir hunting in Phnom Penh’s night market, cramped between tourists and locals, browsing stalls and trying to avoid being ripped off, and when the power cut, definitely trying to avoid being mugged.

It was a day of difference even in a country already so different. Seeing the rural poverty and the scratch existence of families working multiple jobs and raising chickens and ducks to reduce their dependence on the buying from the market. Seeing the neon signs above the market, and seeing the different rates we got on the tuk tuks when we had a Khmer speaker aboard.

Back from a night under a mosquito net, almost under the stars, and into a hotel that’s certainly not grand but comfortable and with warm water. My arms, never quite fully sweat free even under the fans in the late evening, stick to the leather seats as I make the most of the best wifi in the building by working late in the hotel lobby.

When presented with the itinerary for the final three days of the presidential campaign in the final season of the West Wing, Matt Santos grimaces with horror at the demands placed on him but stoically replies that you can hang from your toe nails for three days.

That’s been a bit of my attitude this week. It’s been tiring, we’ve been up and out early each day, spending fairly full days in villages, meeting with pastors and umoja facilitators, hearing from members of the community, those who participate in the projects and those who might like to. We’ve got back into the city ready for a rest, but with photos to sort, edit and upload, and blogs to write, edit and post. I made the situation a little on the ridiculous by deciding to write a guest post each day. I wrote a post for work, one for church, another for Tearfund’s Rhythms’ site (and another is on its way), one for the God & Politics blog, and one for Anna Robinson, one for Claire Musters, and there’ll probably be a couple more in the next day or two.

Each day when I’ve been tired I’ve looked at the incredible place I am and the chance to see and do things I rarely receive and determine to make the most of it. Sleep is for the weak, I can survive on very little for a few days. When I woke at 4.30am on the pastor’s balcony and the cockerels were only the start of the cacophony of sound surrounding me, I lay on the mattress and gazed through the mosquito net towards the slowly brightening sky and took about the only time I had had so far to think and reflect. I had said before I went that I thought it might provide such a chance, an opportunity to do what I have so little time for, the chance in a very different place to think thoughts that are crowded out of my mind most days. And then the only time for thinking comes when all sane people are asleep.

I thought deeply, too deeply for that time in the morning. I thought about the value I place one people and things, and what I do about that. Over the past week I have seen poverty and I have seen community resilience. I have seen the way that Tearfund works in Cambodia and how it works.

I realised that as much as we make a virtue of difference and use it as leverage to encourage donations to causes overseas, that much we keep people at arm’s length. When we seek to show poverty in contrast to opulence; when we show illiteracy compared to education, hunger to feasting, thirst to quenched mouths. When we do this we use difference as a lever to cajole.

And as I thought in the early hours yesterday as I asked questions I rarely do. As I appreciated things I skip over. As I wondered what future turns my life would take, I thought afresh about the value we put on other people, and the value we undermine when we hard sell in simplistic ways to reduce complex situations to tweetable lengths.

There’s something about the simple that is attractive, and there are times when it is vital to remove complexity and communicate with clarity is a virtue worth retaining. But there are also times it is reductionist and it insults the reader and the donor.

Every time a photo of a small child, preferably in shabby clothes, is used to solicit donations. I’ve done it, I’ve done it this week. Every time we reinforce the idea that certain things matter more than others.

Yesterday afternoon before the second church service the umoja group in Tonle Bati met. It was possibly even less photogenic that the earthworm raising project we visited on Thursday. Yet that’s the heart of what we’re witnessing in Cambodia, and at the heart are people who are valued more than gifts of resources.

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We often hear that when people are in old age it is not that they wish they spent more time at the office, or accumulating possessions, but spending time with people, their friends and their family.

When we think about development do we think about this? Do we think about people in far off places as partners in what we want to see happen, or consumers of goods we decide we are kind enough to offer?

And when I think of my relationships, do I value them highly enough, and if I do, if it is the relationships with people who I love and care for that matters the most, then what am I doing to reflect this affection?

Tilling the earth under the blistering sun

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The first time I went bouldering last January I ended up with blisters all over my hands. It was over a decade since I’d done any form of climbing and my hands weren’t used to it.

This morning I helped the umoja group in Tonle Bati till their land under the scorching late morning sun. I’ve now got two impressive blisters to show for my efforts, which I’m currently resisting the temptation to bust. My life working in an office in London has never quite felt so embarrassing.

Over lunch we spoke with Ke Pich, the pastor of New Life church in the village – we’d met earlier in the day and heard some of his story, but the new titbits made an interesting life incredible.

He’d only became a Christian in 2009 after watching Christian television programmes, went to the church in the next village and told the pastor there of his commitment to Christ, and also went on to prove the pastor’s doubts about his conversion by lasting more than three months.

For the past few years he’s been leading the church in his village, and since 2012 working with ICC to develop an umoja group for the church and, in time, for the community.

When Ke Pich was three Pol Pot came to power. He was sent far from home to near the Thai border and separated from his parents and forced to work carrying cow dung to the fields to for fertiliser for the crops. Occasionally he would be able to see his parents, in theory once a week.

Once, he was crying out to see his mother when Pol Pot saw him, and promptly struck him round the face. A tiny symbol of the violence inflicted on a nation.

After the Khmer Rouge regime fell and Ke Pich was nine he walked home. It took him about a month and walking barefoot he, unsurprisingly, got blisters all over his feet.

I now boulder frequently and I don’t get the blisters any more, calluses have developed where once the skin rubbed raw. If I worked on the land more frequently, if I tilled more soil, I’d develop more and my skin wouldn’t form into the bubbles of pain now topping my palms.

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When we do something time and time again we learn, and we learn how to change what we’re doing, we adapt and we improve. When I climb, I climb best when I learn from others, seeing what they’re doing that works and doing likewise.

In Tonle Bati there’s a lady who had fifty chickens. She did fairly well out of them, raising chicks and selling them at market. Through the church umoja group she also helped train other villages how to raise chickens, increasing the likelihood that they’ll be able to feed their families.

A couple of weeks back, at the height of the dry season, disease struck. Probably from a neighbour’s chickens, it wiped out most of her chickens. She’s left with just two hens and six chickens.

It’s a bad turn but it isn’t the end of the story. And this is also the beauty of Tearfund’s See For Yourself initiative. You can keep up with what’s going on in Tonle Bati, and hear the stories of the church and the villagers and how they’re seeking to improve the life of their community.

She’s not getting any new chickens from Tearfund or from ICC, but the church is there for her and that’s why Tearfund is focused on supporting and empowering the local church. Next time she’ll ensure the chickens get better food and clean water to try and prevent the same happening again.

The £3 a month that Tearfund is asking for to support these projects is excellent value for money. By investing in people they are ensuring that development is sustainable. While we’re out here we’ve got a target of generating 60 new supporters for Tearfund, I’d love it if you could be one of them. Give online at www.tearfund.org/bloggers

A Lidy bit of action

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Today we met Lidy. Around the back of the church he is part of sit large water carriers branded with the name of the international charity that provided them. That charity has now left.

I say this not to make another charity look bad, because we were told they’d help train villages up in fish rearing, pig rearing, insect rearing. Yes, they rear insects here, they’re quite a delicacy (I ate a few myself yesterday). I say this because no charity can stay for ever, and if they did that would be a bad thing.

Lidy is only twenty and is the umoja facilitator for his church. Over the past year a group from the church have come together to ask what their community needs.

What a previous aid organisation had begun to do was encourage the local community to be a part of the development they were delivering and have an investment in the animals they were rearing. Umoja takes this a step further, it is for communities to take responsibility for the needs they identify.

For Lidy and his church the needs of their community were:

    1. Education
    2. Health
    3. Financial problems
    4. Spiritual need

On the inside wall of the church is written their vision statement. They want to increase the size of the congregation, they want to raise up leaders, they want to improve life for the community around them and along the bottom written in English it says: ‘Love Jesus Forever’.

This is a church taking responsibility for the place that God has placed them, they have recognised the needs around them and they want to do something about it.

Many members of the church are part of a savings group, where they invest regularly and from which they are able to borrow if they need to. It costs money to travel into town to use the bank, and the interest rates make borrowing money an expensive activity. I was reminded of churches in the UK setting up credit unions to offer an alternative to pay day lenders – maybe things aren’t so different here.

Lidy’s church is looking to set up a crop growing project and perhaps restart some pig rearing. These will both happen on the church’s land.

Before we left the church we got into a bit of impromptu volleyball over an electrical wire with a couple of the kids that had gathered round to watch. Whether it was projects to serve the community, or a place for kids to play, this church was looking to be somewhere for the whole community in years to come.

After one year they’ve barely started and the work Tearfund are involved with is delivering change through investing in people, like Lidy, who will not leave after their programme is finished. If you want to support Tearfund train more people like Lidy find out how you can at www.tearfund.org/bloggers.

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Ernest the not very sexy Earthworm

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The least impressive thing I saw yesterday was a pile of dirt. It was covered over by corrugated metal sheeting in a small plot behind a house. And yet that pile of dirt matters. When the metal sheets were lifted and the earth poked, many small creatures came scurrying out.

It was the site of an earthworm rearing project, decided by the community as crucial to the village’s development. Because chickens eat earthworms, and humans eat chickens, and if chickens can be reared they can be taken to market and as well as feeding families they can provide income.

In just two days I’ve been struck repeatedly by the simplicity and effectiveness of the Umoja approach churches are using with communities across Cambodia. I also have no doubt about the challenges that are part of the process. The difficulty of recruiting volunteers, of finding churches committed to following this through, of overcoming a culture of dependency on aid.

And the earthworm is the perfect picture for the Umoja process. It’s great to see the classroom on the front porch, or the tailoring business financed by investment from four families. The chickens and geese are very visible. But the earthworms are all a bit underwhelming.

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What matters most about Umoja is what happens under the surface. The projects that come out are brilliant and vital, and deliver very tangible things to communities in need. They help communities become self-sufficient, they educate children, they teach adults about basic healthcare. They are the things that make brilliant videos and fundraising appeals. I took some photos yesterday and instinctively knew which one was the best. Sure enough, it was chosen to illustrate an article I wrote.

Earthworms are less interesting, they don’t smile for the camera. There’s not even a dramatic contrast of colours between them and their background; you almost need a magnifying glass to make them out.

And yet they are the thing that makes other things happen.

Umoja is the thing that makes other things happen. It’s the oil that keeps the projects moving and pushes communities forward. But it’s not the most visible of activities, it’s not the easiest to describe and definitely not photograph. On Sunday we’ll get to sit in on one group as they meet, so maybe some photographs might be forthcoming. But compared to smiling children and squabbling geese the Umoja process is about as exciting as Ernest the not very sexy Earthworm.

Churches committed to making their community a place people love to live in.

Many charities have worked at trying to address the problem of street children in Phnom Penh. The Umoja process tackles it from the opposite direction. Too often families and small children end up in the city under the prospect of a better life, and it does not materialise. What if, instead, the villages were made into places that families loved to live so were not tempted to move away?

What if the earthworm did its job and provided food for the chickens and nutrients for the soil? What if Umoja does its job and envisions the church, envisions the community and changes lives?

Keep up with all my fellow bloggers and I are up to at: www.tearfund.org/bloggers (and you can sign up to give there as well).

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Umoja for beginners

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Being taught about a Swahili word by a group of Cambodian development workers was not what I expected on my first day here.

But the more I think about it, the more important Umoja is. It crops up all over the place. In conversations about wells, about classrooms on the front porch, on the cover of a community savings group account book.

Umoja means togetherness, and it’s the way Tearfund works on Church and Community Mobilisation the world over. For ICC, who we’re visiting this week, it’s at the heart of their Village Integrated Development Programme. They’re currently working with 15 churches, and through these churches are seeing 46 small projects changing communities.

In each village it looks a bit different, and works at different speeds, that’s what we saw today in the villages we visited, but at its core is the same five step process.

    1. Envisioning the church
    2. Envisioning the community
    3. Dreaming and developing a vision
    4. Plan for action
    5. Evaluation

This isn’t a quick fix solution,  the analogy the ICC staff shared was that of a chicken and an elephant. A chicken’s gestation is just 21 days – for and elephant it’s 22 months. Umoja is more like an elephant, it’s a long term process.

At the start the church must be on board, the pastor must be committed and a volunteer facilitator able to work with the community. The communities chosen to Umoja are those that have good relationships with the local authorities and wider community including Buddhist monks in the area. They have to be committed to serving the whole community.

Churches and communities are asked to be realistic but also to dream. Three questions they are encouraged to ask are:

    1. What are the problems?
    2. What are the dreams?
    3. What are the resources?

I mentioned it before, but the non-revolutionary, revolutionary part of this process is that the communities are not given the resources to solve the problems they identify. They are encouraged to see what they already have, and how using that, they can change their circumstances. Yesterday we visited a village using Umoja since 2009 and one of chief problems the church pastor identified was the good intentions of other charities who had given the community things in the past, chickens to start a chicken rearing programme, seed to start growing, and the chickens had been taken to market and sold. It had not lead to sustainable development.

Changing mindsets is one of the hurdles to getting the Umoja groups up off the ground. Once communities see the future in their own hands they take far greater ownership than if they are given what they need to solve their problems. The role of facilitators is vital. The action communities take, the small projects they establish, happen because they have changed the way communities think.

Probably the most heartening thing I heard yesterday was from the village facilitator explaining that the fish raising programme they had started early on in the Umoja process hadn’t worked and had to be abandoned. That’s part five of the process, after the envisioning, after the dreaming, after the planning and the action, comes the evaluation and seeing what works and what to do in the future.

We’re getting a chance to see for ourselves the work that Tearfund is involved with in Cambodia. If you sign up to give £3 a month as part of their See For Yourself initiative you can see the difference your money is making to communities in need.

In search of Buddhist monks on the back of motorbikes

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This evening spotting and photographing Buddhist monks in their vibrant orange robes became the activity of choice. As we walked to explore some of the sights Phnom Penh has to offer and gulped at the technique of crossing very busy roads without pelican crossings (just keep walking, stopping makes it more dangerous), this became a little side line.

It is a very different activity than that which we’ve come here to do. While in Cambodia we’re aiming to tell you the stories of the work Tearfund is supporting and which is helping communities across this country. But sometimes the dissonance is striking, like when we take photos of brightly dressed monks in circumstances we find incongruous, like a capital city full of motorbikes and mobile phones and Burger King and Costa Coffee.

This morning we met with staff at International Cooperation Cambodia (ICC), who are one of Tearfund’s partners in the country and the one who run the project we’re visiting. They spoke of their remarkable way of working with communities, by refusing to give money and resources to communities but training facilitators and working with church leaders to help communities identify the problems they face and assess how, using the resources they have, they can address them.

What’s remarkable is that this is so unusual, what is it about solving people’s problems for them that seems so attractive? Have we become so attached to the goodness of aid, that we are blinded to its limits, or it’s potential to do damage as well as great good?

Cambodia is a country that has known great damage, and is still affected by it. In 1975 Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge regime were greeted as liberators when the marched into Phnom Penh. Four years later they were ousted after killing around 2 million people through torture, execution, disease and starvation. Families were forced from the cities and made work on agricultural projects, they were fed minimal amounts and refused water throughout the heat of the day. It’s not as hot as Cambodia gets but today’s temperature was in the high 30s.

The horror inflicted is hard to imagine. If it wasn’t for a guide at Cambodia’s genocide museum who was fifteen at the time of Pol Pot’s revolution and part of a forced labour project, it would have been hard to believe. The cruelty that man can do to fellow man is phenomenal. I wondered before I came at the point of the trial last year, with verdict still pending, of a couple of high profile members of the regime, now in their old age. When I read the testimony of one of the few, very few – 7 adults and 4 children – to have walked out of the complex we visited today alive (21,000 left dead, buried in unmarked graves), I wondered no more.

The forced labour projects were done to make everyone alike, everyone poor, everyone the same. Togetherness became a word loaded with venom. And yet togetherness is at the very heart of ICC’s Village Integrated Development Programme. It is by the church and the community working together than needs can be identified and problems solved. It is by working with the local authorities and the Buddhist monks that development can be more than a check box ticked by a well-meaning charity.

Christians make up a small minority of the Cambodian population, it is unusual, official figures suggest only a fraction over 1 per cent, but as we found out today many who are committed Christians are still Buddhist according to official documents. For many if you’re Cambodian you are Buddhist. It’s not unusual, being a Christian is what makes you different. What seems unusual to you and I from far away is very normal here. Even two Buddhist monks on the back of a motorbike.

You can keep track of our adventures in Cambodia at www.tearfund.org/bloggers and I would love it if you could give £3 a month to help support the work here. By training and supporting more facilitators more villages can benefit from the ongoing and lasting development it brings.

Two and a half hours in Bangkok

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When you’ve got four hours to kill in Bangkok airport I suggest you don’t take a taxi into town to have a quick look around.

By the time we’d figured out what we wanted to do, allowed for time to check back in and for things to go wrong it left less time that it took me to get from home (in London) to London Heathrow yesterday morning. And about that thing called days and nights. My body is confused, it hasn’t slept early Monday morning and I’m ready to crash after two days rolled into one, and yet, as I sent a few emails after checking into the hotel I realised it was still fairly early in the day.

Despite the self-evident folly of our attempt to do a tourist tour of Bangkok in the length of a football match we jumped in the back of the car and reiterated when we needed to be back at the airport. When it dawned on the driver our lunacy he set off toward the city.  We naively thought, half an hour in, half an hour to look around and take some photos and half an hour back.

It wasn’t to be. After half an hour we were in a traffic jam. At forty-five minutes, when we should have turned around, we were in a traffic jam, after an hour – our real cut off, we were in a traffic jam. A few minutes later we told the driver to pack it in, and when he pulled a U-Turn it looked like we might be making our way toward our flight to Phnom Penh. But no. He pulled into the temple triumphantly in his defiance.

I’m not an expert in Buddhist statutes, or temples, never have seen either before, but this one was mighty impressive, the main stature towered high above the rooftops with an orange sash set against the gold skin swaying in the wind. We were tourists. We took a few photos, we run around the complex at an indecent pace, and we then got back into the car and returned to the airport two hours twenty after we left. It would be a more spectacular story if we missed the flight, or if it was only by our brilliant cunning we conspired to prevent the plane from leaving until we were all aboard.

We could have stayed in the airport. There was a very peaceful looking garden set between the terminal buildings. It would not have felt like we had been to Bangkok, we might have the stamp in our passport but we wouldn’t have ventured beyond the airport and its grounds. After a long flight the idea of a massage didn’t seem altogether ridiculous. What I wouldn’t have opted for is over two hours in a car, 4 minutes taking photos of a temple and then racing to catch the flight.  As we wandered back past the ornamental garden we begun to rue the choice we took.

But once the option of stepping into Bangkok was mooted it was hard to resist, hard to see anything else as anything but compromise, the prevailing of sense, of safety winning out over adventure. I’ve travelled to a few places, and although I’ve never been to Asia before, both Bangkok and Phnom Penh bear the hallmarks of a country caught between economic growth at the centre but surrounded by lives of subsistence and survival. I would always choose to see somewhere new, hear from someone new, and find out what is different and what is the same. Bangkok may have just been a snapshot, a prelude, but even in the confines of a car, amid the frustration of traffic as far as I could see. I was grateful that this little misadventure gave me the chance to see.

This week I’m seeing for myself with Tearfund in Cambodia, and I would lov e it as as I tell the stories you give a small amount a month to support Tearfund. You can find out more about what we’re up to and set up your giving at http://www.tearfund.org/bloggers, you can also give £3 a month by texting HOPE TODAY to 70444*.

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*Text HOPE TODAY to 70444
Compliance info: Join Tearfund subscription program for £3.00 per month. Charity receives 100%. This is a subscription service, it will cost £3.00 per month until you send STOP to 70080. instaGiv 08448479800.

A 14 point bluffer’s guide to Cambodian history

Today I’m off to Cambodia with Tearfund as part of their blogger’s trip, information about how you can keep up with all we’re doing is at the bottom of this post. But first, I thought it might be handy to share with you some of my learning about Cambodia. It’s not a country I knew a great deal about, so, without further ado, here is my bluffer’s guide to Cambodian history (mostly thanks to the BBC).

  1. Cambodia was historically part of the Khmer Empire, which also included parts of present day Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. If you’ve seen anything from Cambodia it is probably the Angkor Wat temple complex which was built between the ninth and 13th centuries by Khmer kings. Cambodia was historically part of the Khmer Empire, which also included parts of present day Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. If you’ve seen anything from Cambodia it is probably the Angkor Wat temple complex which was built between the ninth and 13th centuries by Khmer kings.
  2. Between 1863 and 1953 Cambodia was a protectorate of France and subject to its colonial rule. This rule was disrupted between 1941-45 when Japan occupied Cambodia.  Between 1863 and 1953 Cambodia was a protectorate of France and subject to its colonial rule. This rule was disrupted between 1941-45 when Japan occupied Cambodia.
  3. Norodum Sihanouk ruled Cambodia in various guises between 1941-1970, first as King under French rule, then as King in his own right, then resigning in favour of his father to become Prime Minister, and then after his father’s death as head of state.Norodum Sihanouk ruled Cambodia in various guises between 1941-1970, first as King under French rule, then as King in his own right, then resigning in favour of his father to become Prime Minister, and then after his father’s death as head of state.
  4. In 1969 Cambodia allows North Vietnamese guerrillas to set up bases on their
    territory to fight against the US backed South Vietnamese government. The US
    begin a secret bombing campaign against these bases.In 1969 Cambodia allows North Vietnamese guerrillas to set up bases on their territory to fight against the US backed South Vietnamese government. The US begin a secret bombing campaign against these bases.
  5. Prime Minister Lon Nol seizes power in 1970 and sends troops to fight the North Vietnamese forces in Cambodia. The Cambodia army lose territory to the North Vietnamese and communist Khmer Rouge guerrillas.Prime Minister Lon Nol seizes power in 1970 and sends troops to fight the North Vietnamese forces in Cambodia. The Cambodia army lose territory to the North Vietnamese and communist Khmer Rouge guerrillas.
  6. Pol Pot, and his Khmer Rouge guerrillas, occupy Phnom Penh. Year Zero is declared, all city dwellers forced into the country side, freedoms stripped, and religion is banned. Over the next four years hundreds of thousands are tortured and executed, including those who starved or died from disease or exhaustion up to two million people lost their lives.IMG_7267 S21 PAINT
  7. The Vietnamese take Phnom Penh in 1979, but UN refuse to recognise the pro-Vietnamese Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party and the government-in-exile maintains its seat at the UN. For over a decade Cambodia, now known as Kampuchea, is plagued by guerrilla warfare.kampuchea2kak1979rv
  8. In 1991 a peace treaty is signed, former king Norodom Sihanouk returns as head of state and becomes king in 1993 when the monarchy is restored. The Khmer Rouge government-in-exile loses its seat at the UN and thousands of guerrillas surrender in an amnesty.8. In 1991 a peace treaty is signed, former king Norodom Sihanouk returns as head of state and becomes king in 1993 when the monarchy is restored. The Khmer Rouge government-in-exile loses its seat at the UN and thousands of guerrillas surrender in an amnesty.
  9. Hun Sen, prime minister since 1985, mounts a coup in 1997 and ousts his co-prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh and executes ministers from the royalist party.
  10. Pol Pot is tried, found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. The following year, in 1998, he dies in his jungle hideout.polpot_grave2
  11. Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party strikes a deal with the royalist Funcinpec party to break the political deadlock. In 2004 Cambodia re-enters the World Trade Organisation and King Sihanouk  (below) abdicates and his son Norodom Sihamoni takes the throne.
  12. In 2007 UN backed tribunals question Khmer Rouge suspects on genocide charges. The senior surviving Khmer Rouge figure, Nuon Chea or ‘Brother Number Two’ is arrested and charged with crimes against humanity. His trial ended in October 2013 with a verdict expected this year.12. In 2007 UN backed tribunals question Khmer Rouge suspects on genocide charges. The senior surviving Khmer Rouge figure, Nuon Chea or ‘Brother Number Two’ is arrested and charged with crimes against humanity. His trial ended in October 2013 with a verdict expected this year.
  13. Tensions on the Thai-Cambodia border, focused around ancient temples flare up between 2008 and 2012.13. Tensions on the Thai-Cambodia border, focused around ancient temples flare up between 2008 and 2012.
  14. The 2013 elections see Hun Sen’s CPP retain power amid claims of irregularity. Protests in Phnom Penh accompany parliament’s approval of a further 5 year term for Hun Sen.14. The 2013 elections see Hun Sen’s CPP retain power amid claims or irregularity. Protests in Phnom Penh accompany parliament’s approval of a further 5 year term for Hun Sen. How to keep track with what we’re doing in Cambodia

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