As flight KA208 descended upon Phnom Penh, Cambodia I peered through the small window into a world vastly different from anywhere I’d ever been. I saw winding trails of greenish-blue rivers dispersed across wide swaths of dark green jungle – then came the city. As Phnom Penh came into view, high-rise buildings and huge monuments ensconced the jungle, which yielded to the city’s overwhelming might.
As I emerged from the airport, the humidity hit like a truck and I sought refuge in the nearest taxi, which skillfully navigated the streets, densely packed with traffic. The driver, a trusting and friendly man – I’d soon learn this is a staple of Cambodian people – spoke, more to me than with me, about Cambodian politics. However, as I got out and paid he iterated not to tell anyone what he’d said of the government. Perhaps a confirmation that my internship here as a journalist is even more necessary than I’d anticipated despite recent criticism of “fake news,” which has gone far to breach not only US society, but also, and in important ways, Cambodian society, too.
As I arrive at my apartment, a room in a chic and western villa-hotel, I’m warmly greeted with a fruit platter and flowers. The owner, a Dutch expat, kindly informs me of where the best bars are and that we’re hosting a party for Japanese beauty models tonight – party culture is an almost assumed passion among both locals and westerners here – I don’t mind.
My internship with Southeast Asia Globe begins Tuesday and I’ve arrived with enough time to do some research on potential stories as well as the magazine, itself. I’m impressed to find it in nearly every restaurant and cafe I stumble upon. Looking forward to a good summer.