I’m sitting at my wonderful desk with my Panpuri diffuser wafting lemongrass into the air, the kittens are making their rounds about the apartment- mewing here and pawing there- and rapid fire video game noises and cliché phrases are overtaking the living room thanks to Call of Duty. There isn’t anything all that out of the ordinary. The smells are the same, the sounds are generally the same (although the headphones are about to go on for some Lana for some, you guessed it, West Coast)- but the general aura is different. How come?
It’s been two years now since I stepped foot in the lands of The Kingdom of Wonder to make it my home. It’s actually not difficult to remember how I felt those first few hours off the plane.
Being picked up by my mom who at the time lived here and somewhat paved my way into Cambodia, and sitting in her orange and white tile checked kitchen smoking Esse menthols and listening to the geckos chatter outside on her patio. I won’t forget the first week when the luscious scent of frangiapani overwhelmed me as I roamed the quiet back streets, the soothing sound of monks chanting in the morning from the wat across the street, the romanticism of this foreign world and all that it introduced me to, the people I first gazed upon, and the will to create something of my own.
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“.