Thursday, June 6, 2013

Expat Diaries: Shoebox Apartments

Today I'm linking up with Chelsea from Lost In Travels for her Expat Diaries. Today's post is all about shoe box size apartments.

Hal and I know a little something about living in small spaces. Where we lived in Cambodia could qualify has a bombin place for one volunteer, but for two volunteers to live was just too small. Now when you look a the picture below of our family's house, you're going to be impressed. And you should, from the outside it looks pretty impressive. Most of the house is actually just open space with nothing in it. Our room was off of the living room.

Yes, I said room.
We shared essentially the master bathroom in the house. Not bad if you have any space that's really yours outside of a bedroom. That was the biggest problem. We shared a room and a bathroom, we had no where to go to get away from each other and our host family.

This is our room. Our bed was actually bigger than the one we currently sleep on.
 And for some perspective of the size of our room, here's Hal in his kroma (traditional Cambodian scarf with 1,000 uses) trying to push back the birds nest that lived in our ceiling and constantly got feathers and icky stuff on our bed. To the left you can see the door to our bathroom and the edge of our clothes line. I am standing outside of our room to take this picture. At least the ceilings were really tall to help the place feel bigger.
Our bathroom. Our bathroom was the best part of our entire existence. We had a flushing toilet. We had running water. You just can't clean yourself well with a bucket shower (dumping small buckets of water on yourself in place of running water). And that butt sprayer, bidet type thing is amazing. Most the time I didn't miss toilet paper. I know, you all just had your mouth drop. Hal and I totally wish we had one of those on our toilet here.

Our bathroom was also the laundry room. See that black bucket on the edge of the picture, that and our two hands were our washing machine.
 Here's our kitchen. We had a small corner of the kitchen that was ours, and the rest was our host family's. We had a small gas run, one burner stove. Essentially a camp stove that we used to cook everything on. Again, running water = way easier to do the dishes. We were SO lucky to have running water. And really, sharing the kitchen was nice. Our host family always invited us to eat with them, even though that wasn't in our rent agreement, and sometimes they would even try the westernish food we made.
Here's our tiny toaster oven. This was a Christmas gift and was amazing to have. It used a lot of electricity to use, so we only used it on special occasions. We didn't have constant electricity, and it was really expensive and generator run in our town, so no one had fridges. Saves space, I guess as a positive. We had to go to the market everyday to get fresh food.
 That open door behind me is our bedroom. Everything I'm standing next to is everything we left our site with. We lived off of all of that stuff for over a year. Not all of this came back to America with us, some of it was left for other volunteers. When you have such tiny living quarters, you learn to not need a whole lot.
It was obviously a little drastic living in such small living quarters, and sometimes I just wanted somewhere to go, that I could call my own and be able to get away from anyone else. But for the most part, it forced us to interact with our host family a lot, since they were right there the moment we opened our door. We had a good relationship with them probably because of that.

But we found a bigger place for the new volunteers that replaced us in our town.
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Angela said...

Wow! What an incredible way to live. I bet you definitely focus on necessities when you have limited space.

Rachel said...

Ahh!! I swear, girl, you're making me homesick! Where is lived was probably significantly more convenient--we had a fridge and a washing machine, and, of course, our whole family lived on our own, which was nice. My Mom always described our stove as a "campstove", though it did have two burners. Before I moved out, all nine of us lived in a 900 square ft. apartment--your bathroom looks identical to the bathroom in my home--though I've taken bucket showers when traveling in other places. Those are not fun. What an awesome and life changing experience--sure, it can be inconvenient--and what a challenge to do as newlyweds! But I'm sure something like that changes your life forever.

Susannah said...

Wow! That's amazing that you lived there! I'm impressed. I guess when it's what you have to do you make it work. :-)

Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird said...

I think the only thing for me is that I get really overwhelmed in small spaces... yikes!

Jessi said...

Wow it is teeny tiny! The bathroom does look nice though. I know how it is to live in a small space for sure! We live in a basement apt with one bedroom and a kitchen and a tiny bathroom. It's pretty dang small but we're not there a lot so for the most part we don't mind.

AiringMyDirtyLaundry said...

That is small! That's even smaller than base housing, which is a feat, because the base housing I'm in is incredibly small.

Ashley said...

I think it's also good to realize that you CAN in fact live in small spaces. People are addicted to too much space in America, when it's really not so needed.

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