I’m in a strange country, with unfamiliar people, unfamiliar surroundings, and unfamiliar everything – this is exciting! But where to start?!?!
While there are a number of historical sites to see, we’ve been promised by our program that they will take us – and pay for us – so I don’t want to go and do any of those types of things. What does that leave me and my fellow interns? A few days meandering around the city, that’s what!
We’ve gone to some of the more touristy markets like the Night Market and the Russian Market. These places are definitely the souvenir shop headquarters of Phnom Penh. Everything from bootleg DVDs and electronics to knock-off name brand clothing and random Cambodian curios. The whole experience is so new and overwhelming. We even went to a mall in Phnom Penh, complete with air conditioning, fast food restaurants, and all the other Western characteristics of a mall. It was striking to me that everyone is in jeans and long sleeve shirts. I look like a stereotypical tourist: t-shirt, shorts, sandals, and a camera in hand (which I hold onto tightly) and I’m sweating buckets! The natives don’t even seemed bothered by the heat, or the fact that they have on twice as much clothing! I’ve heard from some people it all to avoid getting darker, but is the answer really that simple? I’m not so sure…
Besides shopping we’ve visited the riverside a few times and enjoyed the shops and restaurants there. The best part about the riverside is the breeze. It helps take the edge off the heat. There’s one area of the river, where, in the middle, there are a bunch of little shacks. Apparently, that’s where some Vietnamese people live; not by choice exactly, but I’m still trying to figure it all out. Needless to say it is an interesting situation.
On a more jovial note, in the evenings along the riverside people get together and do group dance aerobics. It’s hilarious to watch old ladies and young kids dancing up a storm to modern Cambodian hits.
That’s what I’ve been up to lately. My internship will be officially starting in a few days and I’m still not sure what they’ll have me doing. Well, until next time, adventure on!