Well, I must say I am thoroughly delighted with my decision to return to Cambodia for my volunteer commitment. I have been having so much fun the past two, almost three, weeks and Phnom Penh is stealing my heart slowly but surely. I have almost met some amazing people that are a lot of fun to be around! So here I will just give you an overview as to what has been happening in the past weeks 🙂
The first night I got here I went down to Riverfront and we were wonderfully delayed by a blockade set up. The blockade was because it happened to be the last night of the former King Sihanouk’s funeral. Because of the blockade we walked by the former King’s crematorium and it was all lit up and spectacular. Talk about perfect timing.
And to top off the sight there were fireworks inside the courtyard of the crematorium. There were people everywhere showing their respects and the atmosphere was melancholy; however, it was still an amazing event to see.
After stopping, it was on to our original mission: Happy Pizza. I went there with two friends and it was lovely. The pizza is pretty delicious and it makes you feel good too. What more could you ask for? This particular pizza was topped with fresh shrimp and squid. Yummy!
On Thursday nights at the Marady Hotel we sing karaoke. Karaoke is a biiiiggg deal here and it is fantastic. It doesn’t matter is you can’t sing everyone loves it regardless. I rock the Jimmy Buffett and the Beatles normally 🙂 On my first Thursday back in Phnom Penh my friend Ben introduced me to ABC Chocolate Stout, a deliciously thick creamy beer.
One of the classes that I teach is at the hotel and it is for street kids that live nearby. They are a handful but they are wonderful nonetheless. Sometimes when they are being crazy I just let them work on Angry Bird puzzles, which could entertain them for hours. Angry Birds is also a huge deal over here, one that I don’t understand quite as well as the karaoke. I must admit I have never played Angry Birds and don’t know that I care to but the fascination with it is pretty awesome.
I love the Marady Hotel but I cannot wait to get my own apartment because then I will be able to actually buy groceries and the market and cook my own meals! There are several markets in Phnom Penh that are all wonderful; some of them are just off of side streets and some of them are actually located in buildings with separate stalls that people occupy regularly. This is a photo of the Russian Market. It is a great little market; at nighttime it is full of great street food! During the day it is all shopping.
On Saturday night, Chinese New Year’s Eve, I went to a delicious restaurant called Beirut. They served amazing Lebanese food; I tried the falafel, hummus and a lamb wrap! I also had some pretty good Chardonnay (which is a rare find here), lemon shisha that was subtly wonderful, and mint tea, which is always a nice treat (it came with the shisha). Hookah is one of my favorite things and the atmosphere at this place is great! Plus, did I mention the food is great?
Great food is a little difficult to find in Phnom Penh but I am scoping the scene out and have found some wonderful little gems of restaurants that I am happy to go back to!
After Beirut we went to the Night Market. It was my first time there. It was a little crowded, expensive and small for my taste but I’m glad I went. I will probably go back just because of the location: right on Riverfront on weekend nights. What a fantastic marketing strategy.
At the Russian Market there is a lady that sells these delicious street waffles. I think they are made with coconut or something because, no syrup needed, they are fantastic all by themselves. They are a little bit crunchy on the outside and then soft on the inside. After the thirty minute walk to the Russian Market from my current residence, it is a nice treat, especially for breakfast.
The iced coffee that gets delivered to my hotel front door everyday by this awesome man. He carries bottles of coffee with him and cans of sweetened condensed milk. You do the math. The sweet milk and coffee get mixed and then ice gets added. A straw and rubber band complete the process. I drink two most mornings and it costs me 75 cents. Coffee love.
My friend Danny, who went through the course with me, is a chef and he whipped us up a fantastic lunch one afternoon in his room using a hot plate, one pan and one cutting board. It was a impromptu meal of sautéed fish, hot mango salsa, kimchi and white rice. We ate family style on bamboo mats with all the food on one plate in the middle. It was a glorious afternoon.
Last Wednesday we ended up at a cool little restaurant, Chuck Norris Dim Sum. They had a fairly decent dim sum menu (not Chuck Norris standards, however); the highlight of the evening were these tasty shots: chile-infused vodka. They were fantastically spicy and actually pretty easy to drink. Plus, they were a wonderful start to what ended up being a long night.
After Chuck Norris Dim Sum we went to a bar down the road called Howie’s. There I played a fun little dice game and ended up winning some shots. The girls who worked there were a lot of fun. In addition, they play great classic rock and other good music.
Friends is a restaurant in Phnom Penh that trains street children in the fine art of hospitality. The food is a little pricy, but I don’t mind the extra dollar or two when it’s going to such a great organization. The food was also very creative. This is our dessert: caramelized pineapple with coconut-chile ice cream. Yeah yeah.
Last night we went on an adventure for Mexican food and we were rewarded! Delicious margaritas, chips and salsa and TACOS! Yay! Plus black beans and rice. Satisfied my craving.
After our Mexican feast, we went to this little bar called L’Absinthe. It is owned by a wonderful French man and he serves over 30 different types of absinthe. It was my first time indulging in absinthe and I must admit it was a little strong for my taste. Definitely a once in awhile kind of treat.
This shot comes from the Sorya Beer Garden. It is a fun place with lots of drinking options and pool and people. It is an interesting place to hang out and people watch and play some drinking games, which we did last night.
Last but not least, this picture hanging in Howie’s totally made me miss my little sister so much. And after I started missing her, I started missing everyone. As happy and excited as I am to be having this experience, it’s difficult to know that the most important people in my life are on the other side of the world. I am really excited for when I get more established and people can come visit! I have so many things I want to share with my family and friends.