Another world: Tender Shoots and Hope in Cambodia

“ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE, ANOTHER WORLD IS NECESSARY, ANOTHER WORLD IS ALREADY HERE.” – Shane Claiborne.

I woke up this morning in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Which is crazy to think about for me. It isn’t everyday you get to hangout over on the other side of the world in a place as beautiful as Cambodia is.
Cambodia2But today wasn’t the most impressive wake up, if I am honest, because I rolled out of bed to the sound of a man testing the loudest loud speaker I’ve ever heard, in the park right across the road from the hostel I’m bunking in. I’m on a trip backpacking all over South East Asia with my twin sister Lydia and our good friend Abi, and for the most part our morning wake ups have been peaceful and serene. I usually wake to the sound of birds in the trees or the subtle hum of a shower a few rooms away.

So this morning was a bit of a weird one for me.

Today, it turns out, is a public holiday. Which isn’t too surprising because around 30 weeks a year in Cambodia have a public holiday.

However, it was very surprising to find out that today is not just any day off. It is International Human Rights Day, and the Khmer people were having a rally.  Which is why there was a man in the park across from the hostel I’m bunking in, testing the loudest loud speaker I’ve ever heard.

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And, I mean, public holidays are mean and rallies are always a good time, but the idea of a government-endorsed day to celebrate human rights in Cambodia brings me mixed feelings. On one level it irks me, but one another level I have hope.

The government of Cambodia has a long history of violating the rights of its citizens.

In 1975 a crippling dictatorship came into power and ruled until 1979. Under their regime, known as the Khmer Rouge, millions of Khmer people were murdered for an idea, and bad one at that. You were tortured and killed for simple things like wearing glasses or owning a book, or for being educated and working in a job that didn’t involve “using your hands.” Anyone else was sent into the countryside to work the land in terrible conditions.

The Khmer Rouge was replaced by a false democracy led by a man called Hun Sen. He and his officials live in grand houses and drive $100,000 SUV’s, while the majority of Cambodia’s population lives on less than $150 a month. At the last election Hun Sen was voted out but somehow remains in power. Knowing he would lose the election, a few days before it took place he threatened that if the people didn’t vote for him, another Khmer Rouge would happen. When protestors took to the streets after it was announced he was still to remain Prime Minister, 40 people were shot and killed by the police. Earlier in 2014 the government of Cambodia was given $80m to house refugees that Australia is unwilling to look after, but no one knows where the money has gone. And that’s all in the last 18 months.

Cambodia has come a long way since the 1970s, but the rights of the Khmer people are still neglected by its government.

However, I have hope.  Continue reading

Rediscovering Advent

Christmas is well on it’s way! Our tree is up, the presents have been bought, there’s a Santa at every mall, even my coffee this morning had a Santa in it.

santacoffeeSeriously how cool is that? (Petit Bocal, that is some serious talent you have right there.)

December is a crazy wonderful time of year. In our family we have 3 birthdays in the lead up to Christmas (including mine, hooray!), end of year events, Christmas services, work deadlines, holidays to plan, and of course all the presents to buy. I love the Christmas lights, the family times, the time off work. It’s my favourite time of year, but, to be honest, I’m pretty exhausted already… and there’s still 2 weeks to go. Yikes.

I’m well aware that not everyone loves this time of year. Many people have had enough of the chaos, the commercialisation, the pressure and the presents; they’re well and truly over Christmas. At the same time though, it’s interesting to hear that people are rediscovering the season of Advent as a solution to all the Christmas craziness. Continue reading

My favourite albums of 2014

2014 – what a year. Here is a very brief breakdown of some my favourite albums from this year (in no particular order). Let me know if you agree/disagree and what albums are on your list of favourites from this year!

KIMBRA:

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Kimbra – The Golden Echo. What an album. This album is unbelievable, Kimbra’s uniqueness, artistry and personality comes out in full force and it is incredible to listen to! Plus there is some sneaky stuff in their about religion and spirituality.

Fav track: Miracle (I challenge you to try not to dance while listening to this track!) Continue reading

Summer Playlist: Instrumental Covers

Summer is here! And so is some incredible music. I pretty much love every genre of music, and I’m not afraid to have a boogie even to One Direction when I’m in the zone. But something I’ve been especially loving recently, as a classical music major more than anything else, is instrumental covers of some of the biggest songs around right now. There’s something beautiful about people finding new ways to express what is blasted on our radios every day. So here are some of my favourites for you to hopefully consider adding to your playlists this summer!

Continue reading