Sou s'day Phnom Penh! I arrived in Phnom Penh last night to a whirlwind of sights, smells and surprisingly, sounds. Phnom Penh really is a wondrous city and envelops all as it plays with all of the senses--words really can't describe how fascinated I am with this city already! After I got my luggage and passed customs, I walked out of the airport literally peeling off the layers, it was so humid! The rainy season should be ending, but I guess not quite!
They say your first time in Asia is unlike any other cultural experience, and they are right. I got out of the airport to the apartment in tuk tuk, a motorcycle with a cab attached to the back. I've heard them being used in Guatemala with the same name, so its pretty neat this is the same way of getting around in Cambodia, too. As we drove I was easily enamored with this city--Arusha does not compare. Phnom Penh has tall skyscraper condominiums and hotels, large 5 lane avenues with stoplights on every corner. Most astoundingly, were the number of motorcycles all over the roads. It was evening, around 9 pm, and women were dressed to the nines in high heels and evening gowns riding side saddle with three other people on the back of a moto. It was late, but I noticed there were absolutely no pedestrians on the streets, all the sidewalks were covered in motos! I had no shame in showing my excitement for an actual department store! A Kentucky Fried Chicken! And good Lord, a Dairy Queen! (I'd spent about 200 baht or around $6 in the Bangkok airport buying a chili cheese dog and a blizzard, to treat myself for being fast food deprived. It's a new low for me, but I can now engorge myself in imitation cheese product and frozen oreo cookie shakes to my heart's content!) It was almost bittersweet, too. I remember feeling like I'd cheated since I was doing so well without my Blackberry, wireless internet, hot showers, and other shameful amenities that Americans are used to, when I was in Tanzania. And here we arrived at the apartment, located across the street from the mayor's mansion to a palace of a place. There was bright, functioning electricity, no geckos or cockroaches roaming about, hot showers, an actual stove and a beautiful balcony. But, it was proof that Cambodia would be a whole lot different than Tanzania and I was excited.
I'd come to find the Cambodia I'd thought of when I was in Tanzania was not what I'd expected, but thanks Forest, life really is like a box of chocolates. Monday was pretty much a sign of misfortunes to come later this week, and I'm not excited. I was beginning to ask myself, why am I here?