In this series we talk to Cambodia expats about their lives here, and what they know now that they wish they had known when they first moved to Cambodia. This week we talk with Martin Hablitzel, who moved from Amsterdam to Siem Reap bringing an art event series called PANCART with him.
MTC: What do you do in Cambodia?
“Starting with the job-thing: I work as a Project Manager in IT with Pactics. My passion remains with PANCART. PANCART was born as an art event series bringing together local and international communities to cherish pancakes and art. It is growing into an art movement with a strong, yet open and welcoming network exploring progressive ways to share with, to learn from and to teach each other. As part of PANCART I invite friends over to a place (my house or public venues), two or three of them present their art — whatever that may be — and the PANCART crew and I make pancakes for everybody.
My life is quite balanced out between a corporate job and a more creative unfolding hobby. I am very lucky that I can work for Pactics, as this company sets sustainable and socially responsible standards and shows that it is also possible to be a successful company while treating employees fairly and using environment-friendly production practices. It is a motivating setup!
In addition, Siem Reap is a great place to innovate and develop my PANCART project further. I get to know and connect people in the art scene and beyond, organize events and build a community in an atmosphere of mutual respect and curiosity for each other.”
What advice would you give to a new expat moving to Cambodia? What do you wish you had known before you came?
“Moving here was quite straightforward, but only because I have been here once before. In March 2014 I came to Siem Reap for the first time (actually, my first time in Asia at all) and I volunteered as an English teacher for the Cambodian NGO ‘Build your Future Today‘ in Siem Reap. While doing that I fell in love with the country and decided I would come back and live here.
So that is also the advice I would give: Come first and stay for a couple of weeks (I would say at least four) and you will feel and find out if you like it. Cambodia and especially Siem Reap is a beautiful place to move to, with great people, interesting culture and history, but also a poor country. So you should be aware of that. In general Cambodia is an easy country to move to concerning paper work (visa, work permit).”
What things are you doing in Cambodia that you might not be able to do if you were still at home?
“Organizing PANCART seems to be easier here than back home in Europe. For example, some months ago I moved into a huge house that became the pancARTHOUSE. I ‘collect’ art and artists to live and be creative there. This development would not have been possible in Amsterdam where I used to live, as I would just not have been able to afford it. I had already had the idea of a pancARTHOUSE back in Amsterdam before I went to Cambodia the first time after watching a documentary about Andy Warhol’s New York-based ‘Factory.’
When I saw that it was instantly clear to me: “This is PANCART.” Bringing artists together at a place and let them do whatever they want: movies, installations, music album recordings… For now I am very happy that I found the pancARTHOUSE and I am very optimistic that PANCART grows further to become an art movement uniting people and communities who try to work for a better world. Sokuntheary, a Yoga-teacher-to-be, points out why I came to Cambodia and why the evolution of PANCART goes so well:
‘…in the third world and under the hot sun, we tend to live tenderly, smoothly and with the flow of our hearts…’
As PANCART represents also my mission to become more intuitive I found out, a lot of people here in Siem Reap are on the same journey and pancakes and art is just a very good common denominator to synchronize and making awesomethings happen with cooperative vigor.”