I am always in awe of the expats who have lived in Cambodia for 5, 10, 15 years; even 2 years has proven to be utterly taxing. Not because of the dusty streets, the grime that rinses away when you step into the shower, the harried and hectic traffic, the miscommunications and culture gaps- but because of our expat cohorts. It hasn’t been the first time I’ve noted that Phnom Penh seems to draw some real characters: from the slightly confused to the absolute deranged, there is not shortage of “wtf“.
I have a love/hate relationship with AEON Shopping Mall. Yes, it’s the biggest and shiniest malls of them all, it’s stocked with a handful of shops that I will actually spend money in (that’s not a huge feat though…I can part way with my Washingtons and riel almost anywhere), has a great cosmetics and beauty selection that I can trust to be authentic, the arcade has an abundance of games and the machines actually work, and it’s overall a clean space.
The downsides? Parking can be a nightmare- I avoid the place like the plague on weekends, people still haven’t seemed how to use indoor plumbing in a way that doesn’t soak the entire stall and have wreaked havoc on what was a beautiful Japanese toilet system, and people tend to walk at the pace of a turtle when eyeballing all the shiny packaged things. Still though, I had been seeing images of food from Miam Miam pop up on my instagram and Facebook feed far too many times to ignore and made the trek to AEON this week to try the fare.
Through a constant stream of social media, a never ending source of news constantly being thrown at you from the world wide web, and behind-the-screen interactions with people you’ve both encountered face to face or through the vast pages of the internet- it’s become more and more shockingly obvious that there are some seriously misguided people (on my side, generally older men) and basically disgusting creeps in this world.
Well kids, it’s been one week since my mom took off on a plane back to Washington and guess what? I am still alive! I am well(ish)! I am eating, drinking, and making merry! As we dropped her off at the airport, it felt like it would be ages before that would be a possibility or that life would fall back into a natural rhythm for quite some time. Although I do feel lethargic, without much motivation to go to the gym or out to do much socializing other than under the comforting roof of my favorite restaurant run by some of my favorite people- I know I have to push through to this next week and get back into action full force, bright eyed and bushy tailed.
This past weekend I worked with rising star and Cambodian singer Nikki, who I featured in my last post for her VEVO music video “Home For Dinner”. She had decided to cover Sia’s song “Titanium” to add to her growing collection of YouTube vids and wanted to create a video that showed her take on women of today and the power they hold: to please, to hurt, to change.
I have had the lovely pleasure of working with Nikki on a number of projects from the lookbook campaign for Tonlé to the opening of Paperdolls and Paperboy at Brown 57 and an upcoming video. She’s such a talent with a warm spirit, plenty of passion, and a voice that will carry Cambodia to the ears of people across the globe.
It’s amazing to see creation, vision, and authenticity coming out of a country where individuality is only slowly becoming something to strive for. I’m so proud of Nikki for the release of her own video, written and recorded here in Phnom Penh, “Home For Dinner”. Keep an eye out for more projects to come from the songstress ;)
Last night I had a dream that had all the makings of a horror film. I wouldn’t call it a nightmare, because as soon as I woke up I began to analyze all that I could possibly remember, what could each sequence mean, trying to remember every detail. I wanted to delve back into that state of sleep to keep going. Set between a blend of Cambodia from the hurried tuk tuk rides away from whoever was trying to slaughter me, my sister, and my mom to scenes in Washington complete with Evergreen trees and a roaring ocean on the front of our door step which in my subconsciousness, was literally a cabin in the woods.
*and that’s not a bad thing!
Yesterday I had shawarma on the mind and I stuffed myself to the brim with something like 6 styles of the goods!
With a takeaway chicken wrap from Beirut for lunch (not the best idea considering I had plans for a specific shawarma tasting bonanza later that night?) I was fully ready for the Iranian feast of the evening to come. Casandra, Rachel, and I joined a few enjoyable people including the owner of the new establishment, Nami, and the lovely GM, Gwen, of Kaviar restaurant and the Grab & Go shawarma restaurant next Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Street 57. Over chilled beers and chatter we dined on some of the best wraps and sandwiches I’ve had of the shawarma family.
I know I’m not alone in knowing this particular kind of ache. The gnawing feeling that starts as a niggling growl then slowly, surely expands to an almost sickening ache that encases your entire being.