Phnom Penh, My Second Impressions..
Everything is different. The language, the sounds, the smell, the way people dress themselves, the food, even the very air is different. At times, I find it strange and I feel lost. Most times, I find it interesting and exotic.
Yes, my family is now in Phnom Penh and this will be our home now. After several years of post-graduate studies, Hi-ace has completed his doctorate studies and it’s a new start for all of us.
The last time I’ve been to Phnom Penh was four years ago and I can see a lot of changes. Public works has improved, there are more vehicles around and you encounter heavier traffic unlike before. There are a lot of things I love about this city but one thing I don’t appreciate is its horrendous traffic. For some reason, people here has utter disregard of traffic rules and regulations. We live very near the Russian/ Tuol Tompoung Market and near the intersection I have noticed the newly installed traffic light complete with timers. When I have nothing to do I like observing how motorists and pedestrians behave. A big number of them doesn’t even follow the traffic signals and prefer jamming the intersection. Traffic is simply one of the things you have to learn to adjust to here in Phnom Penh.
I still have a hard time navigating the streets here because though the whole city is grid-like and the main streets can be easily found and the names easily memorized, most smaller streets are named by numbers and would easily confuse a foreigner. Till now I don’t venture far on my own without someone with me for fear that I would get lost :(. I don’t speak Khmer so I can’t ask for directions and I have yet to brave hailing a moto-dop to bring me home…
Same as before there are hordes of motorbikes around. Unlike the Philippines where we have public utility jeepney’s and buses and taxis to help us get around, here in Phnom Penh residents get around in motorbikes and bikes. You may also take moto’s, cyclos and tuktuk’s for hire but for more mobility people here mostly have their own motorbikes or bicycles. So if it’s your first time here, brace yourself for these two-wheeled drives and do take caution when you’re walking on the streets and stay on the sides as some of the drivers come careening out of nowhere.
You’d also notice new business cropping up here and there. Commerce is alive and well in this city. Building constructions is evident in most places and some parts I could recall being vacant before now is all filled with new buildings. I was also surprised to see a bit of modernity in the way younger Khmers dress themselves. They are still pretty conservative but I must say some wear sleeveless shirts comfortably but still you’d see less people wearing shorts or skirts with hemlines above the knees. The first time I was here, it was a bit hard to adjust to the “dress code”. In the Philippines, to help us cope with the blisteringly hot weather, we have been used to using light clothes, usually sleeveless and shorts. Here in Phnom Penh though people are used to wearing long sleeved clothes and long pants which make the heat unbearable but they are more conservative and since they ride motorbikes around it helps them avoid being roasted.
I’m getting addicted too to internet calling.. It’s really cheap I could talk to my family in the Philippines till their mobile phones run out of battery and it won’t burn a hole in my wallet.
Last night we checked out the street foods lol! I know we don’t know if they are sanitary but I just love street foods. It’s a common thing between Filipinos and Cambodians, their love for street foods. More on that on my next posts.. They do have a lot of delicious and cheap food you can find on the streets that I would say is a must try for all “palate-adventurers”.
I have yet to find a reliable ISP here and it’s getting a little frustrating. Unlike the Philippines where you can take your pick of affordable and fast internet provider, here it is expensive and the speeds are not what I am used to. For now, I just visit the cafes to update my sites. I’m also looking at just using the 3G service of Cellcard. Hopefully, I could settle my ISP dilemma’s soon and be able to get back to dropping and posting regularly.