Visit in Cambodian village was one of the best experience in our travel so far. For one week we taught children English, every day meeting more than 200 students. Between classes we observed life of the village, without Internet, without electricity, without running water, full of poverty.
I’m far from saying that poor people are more happy, as many rich believe, but there is some kind of calmness in them which I haven’t experienced before. You can’t call it happiness, as their life is constant work, they are more often sick, they more often die, they often don’t have basic things to survive like food or clothes. But their life is somehow more authentic. Their problems are more real than ours. If I have something to eat seems to be more important than if I finish report on time. The problem of having anything to wear stop you from thinking if the colors match together and follow the newest fashion.
Calmness can be observed also in their work, which although never finish, have different pace than our. The rhythm of the day is based on nature. If at 6pm is already dark you have to take it into consideration: solar panel is the only source of light, if you are lucky enough to have one. Luck of electricity means also no television and no fridge. Food is always fresh, just because there is no other choice. Whatever is not eaten, it goes for animals or as compost for plants. Each thing which can be reused is reused several times. Responsible consumption specialists could learn a lot from local people, which are master of reusing things as they don’t have much of them. Hammock can be build from the old clothes but you need 2-3 days of work to do it. Plastic bottles can serve as pots for flowers, package for gasoline, as well as tap for water or tool to cut fruits from the trees. Basic element to wear is scarf which can be used as skirt, as towel, as protection for head. It helps also to carry children or shopping from market.
For a lot of people we were first foreigners they’ve seen in their life. They were so surprised by our language, by the fact that we can eat Cambodian food, sleep without air conditioning and we came here without car. Villagers visited Dan, our host, just to observe us. Most of them probably believe that white skin means money, but you don’t feel here the expectation of being the source of income as it is in a lot of places in South-East Asia. Curiosity, still not spoiled by mass tourism, is in the first place. You can find places in Cambodia, which tourists haven’t reached yet. It was amazing to spend week in one of them.