InternGiftFilter: Cambodia-style
May 15, 2009 11:45 AM   Subscribe

GiftFilter: What send-off gift to give an intern headed to Cambodia?

I have a friend headed to Cambodia (Phnom Penh) for many months in the Fall for an internship. It is their first time in the country, but not their first overseas trip. I'd like to send them off with a helpful, meaningful, small gift in their hands.

Ideas? Perhaps you, Metafilter reader, have been there/lived there/stepped off the plane and said "Gee, I sure wish I had brought $thing with me before I got here ..."

I'm open to any ideas, from the purely functional (voltage converter?) to the hyper-local (Idiot's Guide to the Bars of Phnom Penh?).
posted by bhance to Human Relations (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
One of those awesome travel bags that can hold lots, but when not in use can be squashed down into a leetle teensy pouch.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:37 PM on May 15, 2009

Does your friend speak French? Some sort of French-language CD set or pocket phrasebook would be helpful. Voltage converter is also functional and nice to have.
posted by booknerd at 1:57 PM on May 15, 2009

I'd get her a moleskine and a spare memory card for her camera. They have been my constant source of comfort and utilization when living/traveling abroad.
posted by meerkatty at 2:33 PM on May 15, 2009

Best answer: I have trekked all over SE Asia solo (and live in Vietnam for work/research), so these are things I've found useful:

* sarongs (hard to get in many places in Asia, though you can get them in Myanmar/Philippines/Indonesia and other places) I use them instead of towels, as they're easier to dry (and pack).
* good First Aid kit. Sure you can get many things at a pharmacy, but not always. It took me 2 weeks to find safety pins once, so I vowed to bring my own.
* duct tape. This is surprisingly hard to find in SE Asia. I patched many holes in my equipment.
* head lamp. More than once in Laos and Vietnam there have been extended periods of blackout, and I've had to use my headlamp for days on end. My coworkers have since begged me to bring some headlamps back with me from Canada after seeing how useful they are.
* 10m of good climbing rope and 2 weight bearing carabiners. I know it sounds a little extreme, but I've used these items for everything - be it hanging up a hammock, or my laundry, or transporting bulky items on the back of my motorbike.
* A copy of Where There Is No Doctor. It's downloadable and free.
* a USB key. For some reason, they are overpriced in SE Asia. Replacing them sucks.
* an external hard drive full of movies they might enjoy (A friend gave this to me when I lived/worked in Ethiopia for a year and it was awesome. Most of the movies in Ethiopia were dubbed in Amharic or Arabic with no subtitles, so English speaking movies were a treat)
* A care package of their favourite tea/coffee, etc. Sure, SE Asia has good food, but there's nothing like having some of your favourite tea/coffee when you're far away missing friends and family.
* If they don't already, a webcam/mic for their laptop or computer (even if it's an external one, it can be used in internet cafes) for Skype. Skype brings my family closer together when I live overseas.
* multi-tool. I love my Leatherman. Very useful when traveling.
* US currency. If nothing else, money never fails as a gift for a traveller. :)
* Reusable bags. There are so many plastic bags floating around, it's not even funny. Just before I moved to Vietnam my sister bought me a canvas bag for large items and a handful of smaller mesh bags for going to the market. They were great (and I am often asked questions about them in the market).

I know that many of these things are practical and boring, but they've made my life so much easier overseas.
posted by carabiner at 2:50 PM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Just to add another voice to a few ideas:
- extra battery and memory card for camera
- leatherman tool - a useful small one, not those huge things that can chop down trees and flip a pancake -- the skeletool is great. Light (for pockets), enough knives and scissor things to be useful.
- small mesh or nylon bags - so useful on a daily basis and a million times better than crappy plastic bags. I like RuMe bags.
- maybe a Flickr account if she takes photos
- I'd love some books on Cambodia - novels, history of Phnom Penh, great book on Khmer Rouge or the war, etc.
- converter of course if she doesn't have one
- headlamp for sure - I used mine all the time through Asia
- or some money designated for a small side trip!

Is she taking a computer?
posted by barnone at 6:25 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

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