Tropical turnover


I felt a little giddy the first time I rode my bicycle in Phnom Penh traffic.

Luckily I had a friend with me who had been riding a bicycle for a couple of weeks already – this made her somewhat of a pro when it came to Cambodian driving.

I quickly got into the swing of it and found myself thoroughly enjoying the rhythm and flow of motorcycles, tuk tuks and cars weaving themselves around each other to get to their respective destinations.

Somehow in the chaos of it there is a sweet harmony that allows it to just work.

Stories from Westerners in Asian countries often come with a bad case of food poisoning and petty theft. Nearly four months in and I had yet to experience either, phew.

That was until my bike, my baby, got stolen – the first of hopefully not too many casualties of Asian living.

Not to worry, I am now on bike number two, and I must say riding takes you one step, if only a small one, deeper into ‘the Cambodian way of life’ rather than experiencing it from the back of a motorbike.

The paper I am working at has recently seen a big turnover in staff, particularly in my department.

I now have two new editors, who each have their own way of doing things – slightly different to the way of my previous editor.

It has been an interesting experience readjusting my work practice to suit their styles – for this is what I have found I must do.

Being so young in my career I know I am still discovering my own writing style. With my new editors I have had to learn what style gets them going, and then deliver. Sometimes it’s a bothersome challenge, other times it is quite rewarding.

Me (second from left) and colleagues at a farewell bash for my former editor (fourth from left).

I have also been faced with what I would call a moral dilemma.

Quite often I’m given things for free, small things but nonetheless – free.

Free cocktails (I’m a sucker for cocktails), free meals, concerts, massages etc.

And at first I always accepted, thinking: “I have the best job in the world!”.

Now, however, I’m not so sure. I would love some advice on this. Have any of you been in a similar situation? What did you do?

It is very easy to lose track of time here.

Sometimes it feels like seven days are simply not enough to make one week.

The days are steadily getting hotter.

Australia is hot, this I know. Cambodia, well, it’s hotter and to paint a better picture, wetter.

If I spend too long away from the aircon, sweat reminiscent of tears starts to run.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one who has a constant pour streaming from her brow, so it’s not as embarrassing as you would think. It does, however, have the power to steal your energy and replace it with a distasteful lethargy.

My combat weapon?

Mangoes, ice-cold Cokes, and Asia’s own dragon fruit.

Deborah Seccombe graduated from Curtin Journalism in 2011. She is now winding up a stint as a print news reporter in Phnom Penh.

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