a blog about the cultural experiences my husband and I have because of our work abroad...what's delightful and beautiful about different countries and cultures...what we have learned from living and working in countries other than our home country...and how those experiences have changed us

Saturday, July 2, 2011

First day

We made it! We are here in Cambodia. Our second international move has started off much smoother than the first. We learned a few things from the last experience and I think that has helped. Interestingly we have more baggage this time though! 10 bags in all, 9 that flew with us and 1 we sent ahead with a coworker. Last night, the Cambodian staff member who picked us up from the airport was quite astonished at all the bags. He kept commenting and laughing. "Good thing we have a big truck", and "you have one more at the office" (chuckle chuckle).

Our flights were surprisingly comfortable, even though I started out the day with a slight cold and fewer hours of sleep then I would have preferred the night before. Stephen and I were both nervous and had some trouble sleeping several days before our voyage across the Pacific. But our 11 hour flight from Seattle to Seoul, South Korea went by quickly. We started out by watching almost 4 movies in a row. Movies are a really great way to pass the time. Even though I always take books to read I rarely get to them. It takes too much energy, I guess, plus I get nauseous. :( Stephen reads though. He can and does read everywhere. :)

We had only a short layover in Seoul but still, I was able to notice that Korean couples seem to enjoy wearing matching clothes and/or matching shoes. :)  The flight from Seoul to Phnom Penh was on a smaller plane and we were two of the maybe 7 white people on the whole plane. Curiously we sat next to not only a fellow American but a fellow Portlander.

We arrived a little after 11pm local time which is just perfect because then we can go straight to bed and not have to force ourselves to stay awake to get on the right schedule. We are staying in a hotel in the expat area of Phnom Penh for the next week and there is a lovely pool on the 3rd floor. Our hotel room is totally comfortable and pleasant. The air conditioner works like a dream. :) :) Stephen and I both slept great. And I think I got the best night's sleep I've had in two weeks! Nice to finally have landed after so many months of anticipation.

It was a beautiful morning for our first morning in Cambodia today. The sun was shining and even with a hazy sky it seemed cheerful. This is a pleasant surprise since it is the rainy season and we were expecting "angry rains" as our driver said. Our hotel is in an area we hope to find an apartment to live in so after our breakfast we walked along the streets to get a feel for things. Traffic is quite calm here. Cars, motorcycles, and bicycles weave through each other. There are no strict rules of the road which oddly enough in Phnom Penh translates into very courteous observant driving. There are sidewalks but often cars are parked right on them so sometimes we walk in the road to get around those. There is some garbage lying around but for the most part it feels neat and tidy.

We were told last night that "Lucky Market" would be where we would shop for our groceries so we walked to it to see what kinds of foods are available. And what a pleasant surprise. There was such a great mix of similar brands and interesting unfamiliar products. Check out the strange fruits!

 Coffee shops are easy to come by; in a 30 minute walk we saw at least 5 different ones. Cafe Fresco coffee shop was our first stop and what really looked good to me was all the fresh bread. Cambodia was once a French colony so French food is a remnant of those times. If we live in this area I can see myself taking my laptop to Cafe Fresco for some coffee and a croissant. Yum! Gloria Jean Coffee is an international coffee chain and it feels much like a Starbucks. Highly air conditioned, it provided a welcome reprieve from the mid-morning heat. I don't feel too uncomfortable yet but my face gives away just how much I need to acclimate to this new climate. With a hat on for protection from the sun, my hair quickly becomes drenched with sweat and sticking to my forehead. Pleasant.

Our first lunch out was in a restaurant Stephen ate in while he was here in February/March of this year. It's just around the corner from the hotel and it's an oasis. So much greenery and water everywhere. The colors are rich oranges and reds with ornate wood carving in the furniture and architecture. And the food was delicious. Asian presentation is elaborate and detailed. A napkin rolled into a rose. Pineapple fried rice served in an actual pineapple. It feels like we are on holiday.

It was a good first day in the country we plan to call home for awhile. :)

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