It never ceases to amaze me what our bodies can endure.
I think back on my regimented sleep schedule in Washington (wake at the same time, religiously fit in my toddler nap at 3:30 pm, and be in bed covered in fur blankets by 11pm unless working at Marrow), my inability to not throw up after a night of imbibing and my no-nonsense allowance and choice of drinks (strictly potato vodka, Fireball if shooting, no red wine, and my rigid dirty martini with 3 olives). I may have regressed to my first hours out of high school, running off 5 hours of sleep, three iced coffees, and the promise of pizza. I can proudly say vomiting hasn’t been part of my nightly drinking activities and my body has had less reaction to histamines. I don’t mean to sound like a lush, I’m just in wonderment of this re found ability to live without so many self inflicted rules. In reference to my last entry, maybe I’ve just knocked off the chip on my shoulder and shed the stress that possibly affected me so much back at home. We all know the studies that state that stress can be one of the biggest causes for health issues both physically and mentally, it is possible that this newfound Khmer calm is just making it a whole lot easier to eat, sleep, and drink without worrying so much about the aftereffects, resulting in…well, no aftereffects.
With these extra waking hours, ability to sip a glass of Malbec without breaking out in hives, and general freedom of a night time schedule I’ve met some really, truly fantastic people. It would be possible to write about all the memorable individuals I’ve come in contact with here, but I’ll stick with three women I’ve had the honor to connect with.
Hana Cook may be one of the kindest people I’ve ever met and one of the first friends I’ve made since my arrival. She’s lived in Phnom Penh for three years and has resided in Canada, a neighboring island off Sihanoukville and her home, England. I get to see her for few hours a day at .BEYOND (more on this in a later post) as she’s the design team manager at the firm. Hana has managed to bring me iced coffee almost every morning for the past two weeks, donuts on an especially hungover day, and has had the wherewithal to keep a smile on her face even during a week long stint in the hospital from Dengue Fever, getting her phone and purse stolen, dealing with jerks, and placating difficult clients. Not only is she a skilled furniture and interior designer, she runs a graphic design company called “We Made This” in Phnom Penh and is co-owner of a guest house called The White Rabbit. She appreciates a chorizo pizza and pack of ESSE cigarettes as much as I do, and at the risk of sounding like a complete sap, I can see this turning into a lasting friendship.
The unforgettable Amy Derek Dorrah was the first gal who’s style I could truly appreciate since I’ve gotten to Phnom Penh and that would make complete sense; she owns Kampuchea Vintage, a vintage import and export company based here. The girl has some serious talent in the hunt for good vintage (which seems pretty damn difficult in Cambodia) and business savvy that’s going to take her to and from Australia for her Kampuchea Vintage. The lady leaves for home (AU) in a few weeks and it’ll be sad to see her go, but a real treat for when she comes back for more vintage scouring. Not only does she have personal style that actually shines through the terrible throngs of Angry Bird tee shirts, backpacker cargo shorts, and sexpat sleaze but a sunny disposition, fresh outlook and smarts that I truly admire.
Before moving to Phnom Penh, I scoured the internet for an interesting blog aimed towards daily life in Phnom Penh to give me a vague idea of what I was getting myself into. I assumed they would be abundant, but was proven wrong after coming across only several backpacking sites and a whole lot of parenting blogs. Finally, I came across the gem that is “Our Dear Lady Expat: All about living a lovely expat life in Phnom Penh!” It didn’t take me long to click through the entire thing, following her travels, style inspirations, and the things that she generally likes in this great city. On a whim, I sent her an e-mail the first week I got here to let her know how much I enjoyed her blog and we ended up corresponding and planning on meeting for dinner (we aimed for Chuck Norris Dim Sum, but it turns out THE PLACE IS NEVER OPEN WHEN WE WANT TO GO THERE), internet dating style. Wonderfully enough, the awkward first meeting didn’t stay awkward for long and I found that, not surprisingly, Dear Lady Expat Ashley is just as interesting and fun as her writing. She’s got a personality resembling candy floss, absolutely darling and sweet but topped with a solid brain and book references that a gentleman and scholar would cheer. Her ability to keep up on her writing all while working long days teaching, having a full social life, and bein’ in love with PIC (her man and Partner in Crime) is admirable and I tip my hat to her talents.
These three e-introductions to these bad asses barely even touch the unforgettable individuals that I’ve been lucky enough to meet, and I’m so grateful for the chance to maybe make a memory or two with these ladies. All I can say is this: although I left behind some of the most amazing friends and family back in Washington that I will always love more than anything, Phnom Penh is proving true the age old phrase “make new friends but keep the old, one of them silver and the other is gold”.