July is the rainy season in Cambodia so it almost has a shower everyday, but it does not influence me at all. I live in an Airbnb local family, and my host lets me use their bike for free. So I can explore the city easily after I finish my work at school.
How do I depict my feeling when I first arrived at Phnom Penh? I would say disappointed. I have been to some other Southeastern Asian countries before and I have prepared myself before I came to Cambodia with some knowledge of this country about people’s living conditions, the environment and the history. However, when I was in a TukTuk from the airport to my host’s place, all I could saw were busy traffic, dirty streets and boring city views.
I changed my first impression soon when I started exploring the city.Phnom Penh is like its weather in July: it changes suddenly when you have no preparation yet.
The first surprise is definitely the food. Besides delicious local food, you can also find restaurants featuring food from different countries in Phnom Penh and the price is so reasonable. So when I saw Thai, Chinese, Mexico, Italian and Japanese restaurants located on the same street and it really took me some time to pick one from so many options.
Another surprise is how delicate the architecture and art is in the Royal Palace and the National Museum. Even if the Palace is not as magnificent as that in Thailand and the museum looks so shabby inside compared to those of the Europe, when you immerse yourself in the local environment, you will find how peaceful these design reveals and the smaller structure shorten the distance between history and contemporary era; also shorten the distance between the royal and we normal people.
Last surprise is the people. Cambodian people believe in Buddhism and they are friendly, modest and kind. My host’s wife prepared breakfast for me early in the morning before I go to work from Monday to Friday. I signed up for a yoga class but cannot find the studio. When I called the yoga teacher, she told me to stay where I was and she rode the motorbike to pick me up. People here are not wealthy and most of them have never been to other countries at all, but when I talked to them, I can feel that most of them are satisfied with what they already have. Maybe to some extent, it prevents them from developing economy and technology, but people I met in my first week are so nice and all of them influenced me positively no matter who they are. So I am looking forward to my next three weeks in Cambodia and I will talk more about my internship in DK Schoolhouse in my next posts!