Here are 5 fun and 5 not-as-fun things from our first two months in Cambodia:
Up: The availability of fresh food.
We mentioned this in our smoothie post, but it’s worth repeating. The freshness of the food you find in the markets here is spectacular. It’s not uncommon to be eating fruits or vegetables that were harvested just the day before.
Add to that — markets and vendors are all around. We can pick up 70 or 80% of our food along the streets we walk on each day, which makes cooking healthy with lots of fresh food almost second-nature.
Down: The availability of quick food.
Food meant to be prepared quickly at home is tougher to find. It didn’t hit me until we moved here how often I had relied on a frozen meal or something boxed to speed along dinner prep.
(It is very easy to find quick food at any of the restaurants and food carts that cover the city. We just prefer to eat at home most days.)
Up: Walks with Geordi along our street.
Part of apartment living again means taking Geordi out a few times a day. But, this also gives us a great chance to chat with the neighbors. In the evenings, many of them sit outside their front doors and talk or play games together.
As we hoped, Geordi is making a lot of fans. Khmer people aren’t used to dogs being walked on a leash (most roam free in front of the house all day), and aren’t used to dogs as friendly as Geordi (most dogs guard said house). But now that they’ve known him for a while, they’re very happy to call him over and give him some scratches.
The warm weather hasn’t changed Geordi’s burrowing habits
Down: Geordi’s innocence lost.
There are a few things that have been ruined for Geordi as part of moving here. Sorry bud. One is peanut butter — probably because that’s how we concealed the medicine to sedate him for the trans-Pacific flight. He’s pretty leery of it now. Another is squeaky toys. We have another post coming that will explain that.
Up: Everything you can find for sale.
Along with everything we thought we’d be able to find — we’ve had several surprise finds. Some things from the US that we thought wouldn’t be readily available (Oreos!), some that make sense and are very nice amenities (the hammock stand!).
Laura especially loves to head to a market to explore — that’s part of the adventure of living overseas! Most markets have some “theme” to them — household goods, clothing or produce. But they’ll usually also have some other vendors mixed in. You’ll find one or two things that you didn’t anticipate picking up that day if you set aside the time to wander a little.
Down: Everything you can’t find for sale.
Sometimes, finding a specific items is tricky. Passion fruit is delicious, but we haven’t found any vendors within walking distance that consistently have some for sale. Even supermarkets have somewhat variable things in stock from week to week. Almost nothing can’t be found — but you’ll have to put the time in and be flexible with your plans.
Up: Successes learning Khmer
We’ve been studying Khmer during our time here, and it’s going surprisingly well. We’re able to navigate around town with the tuk tuk drivers, barter in the markets, and have some basic conversations with the neighbors. Even more importantly, it’s allowed us to make friends at our Khmer church.
Down: Stumbles learning Khmer
Of course, for every success we’ve had, we’ve put our foot in our mouth several times. Many times we just say something entirely wrong. Sometimes not understanding how to read Khmer leads to a humorous situation. Like the time Ian walked up to a drink stand and tried to buy out their stock of fruit. (Why does this keep coming back to fruit? Don’t blog hungry!)
Up: Amazing people.
Whether it’s our EMI teammates, our friends from school and church, or the people in our neighborhood, we’ve met some incredible people. Incredibly talented, incredibly friendly and generous, incredibly welcoming. I think in large part, this is one of the perks of Cambodian and Southeast Asian culture and pace-of-life.
Down: Amazing ants
To the point where “ants in my kitchen” is becoming the punchline to a set of running jokes — they’re inevitable. They’re persistent. And just when you think you have them handled, they’re back. It’s not a big nuisance, just another item to take a few minutes of the day.
We will be having a Facebook live video session next week! If you have questions you’d like to ask or just want to hear some more about life in Cambodia, tune in! Details will be posted to the Facebook group.