Hello from Phnom Penh,
Just to give you guys a little update about our beautiful adventure.
We arrived in Phnom Penh on Nov. 30. At the airport everything went pretty smoothly. As planned we didn't have any problems getting business visas for the 3 of us, no questions asked or papers requested. This means that we will be able to stay as long as we want, we just need to renew them for 6 months or a year with multi entry. At the airport a big van was waiting for us to take us to the hotel. My 1st impression looking through the windows during our ride to the hotel was "this place is f@ crazy!" people everywhere, a million motorbikes, hundreds of tuk tuks all running like crazy, few traffic lights and no limits where the road ends and the sidewalks starts. Since the airport is outside of the city, poverty was more evident. A part of me was thinking "We made a mistake, we made a mistake, we made a mistake". Slowly the city started to show up, the chaos continued but the view from the van was a little bit different. From grey and dust the colors started.
As soon as we got to the hotel 5 different young people came running to the van to get the bags, one of them even grabbed Oliver and pulled him out. Soon we were in the pool playing with little Oliver with beers in our hands. Another thing, we were pooped. That night we slept for 12 hours. The very next day we had an appointment with one of the international schools and of course our 1st Tuk Tuk ride. Oh man, that was a wonderful experience, the breeze in our faces (yes, the breeze). I wasn't expecting that in Cambodia, we knew that in December the temperatures were mellower but I was not expecting that nice breeze. That’s probably where our romance with the city started.
The following days were dedicated to vaccinations and apartment hunting. We hired a student from Cambodia that helped us a little during those days. He is a very nice guy, but not exactly what we were expecting. He was too nice to negotiate and advocate for us, so we ended up being the negotiators in most situations. He didn’t know most of our questions about neighborhoods, places to eat, etc. He’s not from Phnom Penh. Since he was very nice we may call him again just to hang out.
One of the things that surprised me the most is that this place is not cheap. The hotel was in the expat area and most cafes and restaurants around were more expensive that we expected. I would say, to give you an idea, Harlem’s prices.
I read somewhere that usually in the 1st week 70% of foreigners travelling to SEA get the so called traveler’s diarrhea. By Friday we were feeling lucky that we didn’t but on Saturday, after a week in the hotel I got sick, yes, that kind of sick when water and just water comes out of your ass, the whole fucking day, I spent that day in the hotel’s bathroom. Victoria and little Oliver for some weird reason were ok. Lucky bastards!
On Sunday we moved to our new apartment near the Russian Market, very nice apartment, with furniture, 2 big rooms, security, AC, cleaning 3xweek, TV Cable and Internet. Not a lot of charm but we couldn't wait longer to get out of the hotel and call some place home. We also wanted a smooth transition and an apartment like that was part of the plan. We signed a contract just for 6 months because we still want something different. I feel that we are paying a little bit more than we should but still a lot less than NYC.
For those interested, the internet in our apartment allows me to do my job without a problem.:-) No problems connecting with the NY network Youhuu!!! A big deal for me.
Like when we moved to NYC, we have had our fare amount of frustrations and our little victories. We were expecting it, so no issues with that. For example, it seems here that there are 2 prices for everything, expat prices and Khmer prices. It’s still affordable, but a little bit frustrating at the beginning of a move when you have to buy everything at once.
To sum it up, Phnom Penh is dirty and clean, exotic and familiar, chaotic, charming, smelly, colorful…but we are falling in love with it. Little Oliver likes it too, (even though he misses his friends) so all is good.
I hope you guys are ok. Saludos from the Kingdom of Wonder.