Since arriving in Phnom Penh (PP) I've been able to develop a "normal" routine.. for the most part. Finding my new normal hasn't been as challenging as Bali. I chalk this us up to Bali being a vacation destination, island, chillax atmosphere, new program, new people and so much to do and see it's overwhelming. Phnom Penh is anything but a resort town and I already have my footing in the program so I'm not spending extra time "figuring it out" like I did in Bali. I'm quite lucky the time zones didn't differ all that much so my work schedule has remained the same. Our housing accommodations also allow for a bit of normalcy as we have kitchens, a washer, and a desk in our bedrooms.
Disclaimer: You may get sick watching this video. It's a bit shaky and everything is in fast mode. I have a stabilizer coming so all videos here on out should be smooothhh. :-)
In PP, the Tonle Sap River runs through the city, separating a chunk of land. It's the less crazy side of PP. Not as much traffic and wonderful views of the skyline and sunsets. This is where I live, work and some play. There is so much traffic it takes a 30 minute Tuk Tuk ride to cross the bridge to be in the heart of the city... all for the bargain price of $3-5 (depending on my negotiation skills that day.)
Our group lives in two different apartment buildings but within walking distance to one another and the coworking space. Most of us live in AbuAbu, a combination of one and two bedroom apartments. I live with Megan, who you've heard me references many times before :-). She's been a dream to live with.. she cooks, I clean. Our apartment is two bedrooms, two baths with a living and kitchen area. Our kitchen has a small fridge, and an intense hot plate with minimal cooking supplies. We get by with a pot, skillet, rice cooker, kettle, spatula, and butchers knife. We don't dare buy anything requiring a can opener or oven :-/. We've gotten used to our limited amount of supplies, making me wonder why I need 100 kitchen gadgets back at home. What a waste.
Before arriving in Cambodia, I set my expectations really low as I wasn't at all sure what I would be living in for 37 days, given it's a developing country. I wouldn't say it's the nicest place but she does the trick. I have a safe place to sleep, running water, working toilet <-- people, I can't even tell you how important this is in Cambodia... and the owners of the building are such a delight. So much so, they invited our entire group to their daughter's wedding, which so happened to take place right outside our apartment door...We would have been apart of it whether they invited us or not sine we had to walk right through it to leave. Ha.
I've had to learn the hard way, Southeast Asia is not a fan or doesn't know about the trend of light, fluffy, pillow-like beds... OR PILLOWS. My god, it's like sleeping on a cinder block. I'm pretty sure Brandon thought I was being nothing but dramatic until he had the opportunity to sleep on it himself. He was such a doll and brought my pillow and blanket from home last week. I can finally wake up without having to take Aleve. Geezz.
Megan and I rarely use the living space. Our TV offers 1-2 English speaking stations and our sectional was built for a midget. It also doesn't have anything holding the sections together unless you squeeze them together with your butt cheeks. It's very interesting. We both like to answer emails and work from the kitchen while sipping on our instant coffee we bought from the local market.
Our first day in Cambodia we were taken to a grocery store nearby. A so-so experience. Everything was extremely expensive and marked in American dollars (everything in Cambodia is marked in American as well as Cambodian Riel) Our idea of a fancy treat was literally cheese and crackers. We later found a western store downtown PP in a shopping mall, that offers all the fine goods you can find at Kroger. Most of the prices are either cheaper or just as you would buy in the states with the exception of Ben and Jerry's. Those suckers go for $14 a pint!!! Yes, you read that right. Highway robbery. I was super excited when I saw brownie mix, almost tossed it in the cart until I realized I no longer have an oven. Have you noticed I have a sweet tooth yet? Our meals at home consist of Kellogg's cereal, spaghetti, toast, tuna with cheese and crackers, coffee and roman noodles. All classy stuff.
Outpost, our coworking space is a 5-minute walk down the street from our apartment. The space is majestic, calm, comforting and gives the Roamers and I the ability to focus on work. It's located in a building called the Green Penthouse. Six floors with green vines trailing from top to bottom along the outside of the building. Our coworking space takes up the 5th and 6th floor. The fifth floor is more of an office vibe and the sixth offering bean bags, hammocks, giant couches and more. We also have a cafe located within the office. They come up with a different menu every week, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday-Friday. They take requests and I have yet to have a bad meal. A breakfast dish of pork fried rice runs $3.50. This is much cheaper than anything I could buy in the grocery store. We've learned early on it's cheaper for us to eat out than to cook at home. The chefs at Outpost have been a lifesaver. My first week I had a meal or two there every day and it has yet to get old.
At Outpost we have full access to the rooftop. One of the miraculous things about Cambodia is the consistent sunsets. From our rooftop view, we have a clear picture of the PP skyline along with the orange and pink sky as the sun sets behind the cities newly built skyscrapers. From our view you can see 15-20 cranes (probably more) being put to good use. This city is growing and it will be fascinating to come here someday and see how it's changed.
The We Roam staff also hooked us up with access to the Sokha Hotel another 10-minute walk from Outpost. The gym and pool is available to us 24/7 and we get discounts on all spa treatments and food. I've only used the gym perk once but tend to add it to part of my daily schedule. The pool is technically considered a lake, it's so big. I've never seen anything like it. I'll be able to swim laps thanks to BG who brought my competitive suit and goggles. If you ever find yourself coming to Phnom Penh, you'll be one of 5 individuals staying at Sokha. It's a constant ghost town. I'm not at all sure how they stay in business. Apparently, other Roamers have found 20+ Karaoke rooms in the basement. Score! We will all be checking that out later this week.
The weather here is constantly spicy. This week we're looking at an average of 95 degrees every day. There is little to no cloud coverage and the humidity is ... there. It's really not as bad as Bali but I have started to experience lip sweat and back of the knee sweat for the first time in my life. Come on, it's just gross. To beat the heat we usually end up at the Sokha pool or a hotel pool across the river. Megan, JD and I found Aquarius Hotel our first few days in PP and fell in love. This is where the picture below was taken.
I'm unsure of the population size of PP but due to the millions of scooters, tuk tuks and cars on the road at any given time the pollution is really bad. We also think this is due to the amount of trash they burn. This has caused me, and others to not feel all that great on a consistent basis. Around 2pm my body is dragging every day. Most days I feel lethargic. Little to no energy and in desperate need of a nap. When Brandon and I left Phnom Penh a week ago to visit the coast I never experienced the exhaustion. I now understand why so many Cambodians where face masks while walking around and I may just start sporting this fashion trend.
The video above gives you a small glimpse into my day and what our accommodations and office space look like.
I know a lot of you are curious to know how my program works and what I'm up to. If you have suggestions for content or pictures please don't hesitate to ask! Comment below :-)