I signed up on WWOOF, which is essentially a work away type website that links volunteers with farmers around the world in exchange for food and accommodation. Alas, there were only six farms listed in the whole of Cambodia, so I emailed the one I saw in Siem Reap. The owner, Mark from England, emailed me back promptly to inform me that the volunteer positions at his farm were filled, but I should swing by his hostel where he has some work/volunteer opportunities. After a bit of Siem Reap sightseeing, I made my way to Downtown Siem Reap Hostel, to meet the owner and his local wife, Rina, in person. Mark went on to tell me that his farm spots weren’t full, but he didn’t feel comfortable sending a solo female volunteer to the farm since he is only out there 3-4 days out of the week and spends the rest of the time in town at his hostel. However, once he heard I have six months dedicated to living in Siem Reap, he immediately offered me a position at his hostel’s reception desk. The pay is minimal for the first month (appx. $2.50/hr, 60 hours/wk), but the more time you invest in him, the more he’ll invest in you. I’ll get paid more by the second month and if I stay for three months, they’ll cover my visa costs.
I work with mostly local Cambodians, but there are three other Westerners that work there as well. The bartender, Lisa from Holland, is a joyful dream. I truly don't think I have met a happier Hollander. She is the living, breathing definition of the word cheerful, even after she breaks two toes! There is also two jovial kiwis (aka. New Zealanders), Matt & Sam, who have been traveling Southeast Asia for over seven months, sporadically working at various hostels for the fun and the financial break. The boys will be gone in less than a month on their way to India, but Lisa and I will spend at least three months together, which is a comforting fact. The local I work with will be a whole separate post because it is one of my favorite aspects of the job.
On top of the job, Mark has already managed to find a me an English teaching job for two days a week out near his farm in rural Cambodia, which will start in January. They are working on finding me a place to sleep and a scooter to make the hour drive out to Kulan Mountain, which is where the school is located. They made sure I knew that this is extreme countryside and very poor Cambodia (eg. no electricity, pump your own water and the students, if they show up at all, may not even own their own shoes). All I could tell them was that this is the exact experience I was hoping for. Otherwise, I move into my own place in downtown Siem Reap on January 1st where I'll be paying a whopping $70/month for a room, which includes a bike, laundry, pool, kitchen and wi-fi. Local status, here I come.