After a comparatively short wait in Bangkok, during which I finally tasted Starbucks coffee and hoped no one would put drugs in my backpack (I saw what happened in Brokedown Palace), I boarded the plane for the 1 hour flight to Phnom Penh. I was in an aisle seat so had to crane my neck past the old man sitting at the widow to get a glimpse of Cambodia. Some dry ground, a few scrubby bushes and a long dirt road bearing a lone cyclist was all I could see from 3 seats away so I impatiently sat back and waited to land.
The customs officials were scary and didn’t seem to like my request for a business visa. I realised the following day that they had given me a tourist visa instead but that hopefully wont be too difficult to sort out. I found Dan waiting for me outside and after an introduction we set off for her house in a tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuks are not very fast so it was a good way to see a bit of the city. My first impression was that Phnom Penh is big and noisy and full of smells, some good and some not so good:) Dan and her housemates stay in a lovely, spacious flat with 360 degree views of the city. The combination of very little sleep and the realisation that I was in my new home for the foreseeable future meant I was a little wobbly. This is no 2 week holiday. I really appreciated how welcoming everyone was though, it helped my nerves considerably.
The following day, Tuesday, I decided to venture out on my own. Feeling terrified I nevertheless gathered my resources and stepped outside. I got into the lift, pressed the ground floor button and waited... and waited... and waited. I pressed a few more buttons and the lights went dark. I didn’t have airtime to call anyone so I stood there in the stuffy darkness for a few moments. Thankfully the door opened when I pressed the open button. After 2 more similarly fruitless attempts I went back inside. Later that day I managed to get out and set off in the direction of the Russian Market. Unsurprisingly perhaps I got lost and finally wondered back home, determined to try again the next day. Ooh I nearly forgot, on the way home I found a stationary store and my heart soared. Great journals, notebooks and pens adorned with creatively used English makes me happy.
It would probably take over 387 days to eat your way through all the eateries here and that night I sampled my first one, a place called Chinese Noodles. While the decor leaves much (everything) to be desired, $2 will get you an amazingly tasty plate of noodles and tea.
All in all my first day was a little less intrepid than I’d hoped but my brief foray into the streets made me feel a little more confident than before. Onwards!
As an aside, apologies for the lack of photos, don't have a camera yet but hopefully soon.