It’s fantastic just a few months of experience, Skip and I continued awe, amazed and impressed by this fascinating country that we have made our home. One thing that helped me to change my perspective would with a colleague for a cafe in a beautiful leafy balcony where I settled back into a rattan sofa and realize there are actually places that can become havens when the heat and the dust becomes too much to handle. But, funny thing is, it does not make me look more expat havens. It gives me more of a perspective on the city and the realization that I had flown thousands of miles from home to learn about other cultures, none that I can get at home.
Little by little, I began to see through different eyes. I find joy in racing across town in a tuktuk observe monk orange-wrapped with an umbrella and some passengers piled onto motos with large panels of glass, leafy tree or a live chicken. I see glittering roof of the palace as we walked home at night. And I’m afraid of looking into roadside stalls selling food dishes recognizable as we walk through the city no longer.
Most of all, I find myself drawn to people who should be among the most beautiful race in the world – both inside and out. Having been raised in this war-torn country – most of whom have lost family and friends during the Pol Pot regime – they are very resilient, soft and without self-pity. their smile is enough to brighten my day and every child eyed melts my heart when they wave and a beam from the rear or side of the road moto.
As we begin to feel more comfortable with the city, we find an apartment in a quiet part of the town, happily, has an unusual amenities of bath and stove (not normal in most of the apartments in Phnom Penh). And, little by little, we ventured further and deeper into the city streets and people’s lives.
While we are often in the company of fellow volunteers, we are also looking for local friends, one of which appears in the form and our driver, Somon. Soul welcoming and friendly, Somon transporting us back and forth every day to language classes and Skip decided he wanted to invite him and his family to our house for dinner.
Somon arrived Sunday night and rolled in his tuktuk, smartly dressed and escorting his wife, two adorable children and two sisters that she decided to come along as well. Thirty minutes later, the brother Somon came too … and so is the friend of his brother! And as we scrambled to find an extra plate and silverware, women took over our kitchen and cooked more dishes to add Skip the chicken curry, then cleared everything from top to bottom
It was a great night. Somon and her family sat, beaming, unable to speak much English but said volume in their smile and their gratitude.
It is experiences like that which enriches our lives. Of course, it was wonderful to go to an upscale jazz lounge and drink martinis, biting $ 1 tapas. It’s also nice to have dinner at the rooftop restaurant at the FCC (Foreign Correspondent Club) overlooking the river.