It was a nice surprise to get sent on an assignment to Cambodia, even if it was in the middle of their monsoon. We have two main field offices in the country, one in Kampong Cham and the other in Siem Reap - and at the latter some of the projects we are funding are in communities that live right within the area of the Angkor Wat ruins. I saw the ruins on a holiday in 1998 when I spent a whole week based in Siem Reap, but I was very hopeful of a trip back there.
But it wasn't to be. My colleague got to go to Siem Reap whilst I was assigned to Kampong Cham. I did my research to see if there would be anything to visit at the weekend, but luck didn't seem to be on my side; the pagoda with the resident python is inaccessible during the monsoon, and the 100-year-old wooden temple was closed following the collapse of a beam in May. So on the Saturday morning I just went for a walk, to take a better look at an area we'd driven through on the way to visit projects in the week. I estimated that it was at least 5km away, so took a motorbike taxi there (swerving to avoid a snake in the road on the way!) and walked back.
Then another, quite unexpected, opportunity to experience something new came on the drive back to Phnom Penh, when we passed some stalls selling local food. Deep-fried spiders!!
I bought one to try, then was asked if I wanted to see a live one. Well how could I resist! Here it is on my arm:
More impressive than it probably looks as I'm actually terrified of spiders.