With a little bit of time and distance from Cambodia now, I can write about my experience with some meaning. My visit to this developing country really tested me.
There was beauty and interesting places emerging all around, sure, but hardships and injustices too; things that challenged and confronted me. I was woken up harshly to my privilege, how lucky I am to have been born to my station and the responsibility this imparts to me.
Almost an entire generation lost to the brutal Khmer Rouge in the '70s has left the country with some very serious social issues e.g. almost 70% of Cambodia's population are aged under 30 meaning the competition for jobs, accommodation, everything is beyond fierce, many turning to low paid or illegal work as their only option.
But you can see the light emerging in Cambodia too; I saw it in conscious hotels, up-and-coming eating areas of Phnom Penh, a local hair salon, the buzzing markets, the emerging fair trade fashion designers and training restaurants. The people are friendly and happy and kind.
So I tried to focus on this light but also to notice and take in the hard things too, this was a place to make me more conscious of the world I live in, to wake up.