Cambodia, Expat, Personal, Phnom Penh, Travel

Apartment. June 5, 2013.

CALM

I’m a bit shocked.

A bit nauseated, a bit jittery, and all sorts of excited- much like I’ve drunk too many espressos.

The reasoning for this is we finally, (sigh) finally found an apartment.

After hours of clicking through badly designed websites, calling invalid numbers, looking at over a dozen places, motoring around the city to different locations sometimes in the thunderous tropical rain, and hounding different realtors- it feels like heavy handbags full of bricks have been lifted off my shoulders. Now it’s been replaced with what feel like guppies out of water doing a dance in my stomach. I thought “I’ll write about the experience later when I can think a bit more clearly” but then giving it some more thought, wanted to express everything as it comes.

At our lunch break, we met with yet another realtor to view an apartment whose online ad and photos promised hardwood floors, “Western” furnishing, ample storage space, bright light streaming through windows, and a spacious bathroom. While I tried to tamp down my hopes for the place, they still managed to creep back up as we hit “8” on the elevator buttons and made our way upward. We walked into what couldn’t be described as anything else but a studio, with tiles as white and slick as you’d see in a hospital and a bathroom so far removed from the bedroom  I would wet the entire living room (it wouldn’t take much) with just water dripping off my skin from a shower.

We left somewhat defeated, but had underneath it all expected the outcome. I always forget how stressful apartment hunting can be, especially with a deadline. I will be leaving my current place that I’ve been in for six (sometimes extremely uncomfortable) months as Allison heads back to Oregon, John to an island off Sihanoukville, and Peter onto new ventures. For lunch, Ritchie and I debated between KFC and Sesame and went with the latter, to avoid the lag and drag of a fast food lunch for the rest of the afternoon. When we stepped into Sesame, it was crowded per usual and among the noodle filled faces we recognized one familiar, that of our friend Peteris who we seem to run into constantly atop motos and on the go.

We all sat to eat our cold sesame noodles drizzled with Tahini and to freshly cooked Gyoza on the patio and chatted about the new Star Trek, life as an expat and the lives we lead by living in Southeast Asia. As we talked, I looked into the distance- maybe four blocks away- and pointed to a tall, modern, grey building with a leafy garden atop the structure and pointed to it saying “I wish that could just be where we lived. I wish that’s where I was going home.” Peteris piped in and said he had been there once before to visit a friend and that the spaces were very nice, but there usually weren’t vacancies. Ritchie and I had actually driven by a week before admiring it, but there had not been any FOR RENT sign out front or seen it on any real estate website so we bypassed it completely. Peteris urged us to go “check it out anyway” and upon Ritchie’s agreement, we decided we’d pop in after lunch. Peteris, another individual who seems to need his space after a long day of work and who delights in the comfort of a relaxing and pleasant space, confirmed that finding somewhere to really escape when needed was important and that finding a place to live to do so is absolutely vital.

When we rolled into the garage area, we were greeted by several extremely friendly staff and a manager’s helper who informed us that they had a two bedroom available but would not be for long (from what I gathered). While we walked around a truly sprawling apartment with all of the design I could have ever dreamed of, Ritchie kept pushing me along saying “don’t look!” and “keep moving!”, us both knowing it was completely out of our reach for the time being. As we stepped into the elevator to head back to our respective offices, the cleaning girl unexpectedly hit another button which led us to another level. We were surprised to see an open door, the manager, two other individuals and an empty one bedroom space. When we walked in I felt the immediate bristling of the other potential renters. Within minutes, maybe even seconds, I realized that while it was much smaller than its two bedroom counterpart and that the one thing I had specifically hoped for (2 bathrooms) wasn’t going to be available along with everything else on our wishlist-this was the place I wanted. We spoke with the landlord (his name is Peter..Peteris…Peter…so close!) and he said the previous tenants had literally moved out one hour before us visiting, pointing to a sink full of vegetable oil bottles and empty spice jars, and that if we hoped to move in to move fast. So we did.

We signed. We put down our deposit. And now I have a new place to call home for the rest of the year.

There were so many aspects of the encounter that still strike me as completely too much to be a coincidence; I really don’t think they were. Total blessings more like it.

In the middle of this month, I’ll settle into my new haunt at the Bhumi Jaya Apartments.

I am extremely grateful.

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