Life in Phnom Penh seems to start unfailingly around 7 a.m., two hours after what somehow has become my routine wake-up time.
Sitting in the apartment that we’ll occupy probably for no more than six months, I hear construction starting on the house 10 floors below me in the neighboring lot. I can see tuk-tuks gathering on street corners, hear Buddhist chants and notice other sounds of life, including birds, rising in volume. Later this morning, the city’s inescapable energy is sure to peak.
(One reason for expecting to move is that the apartment we had to grab was merely acceptable and available following our arrival here on Dec. 3. Two weeks in a basic hotel was quite enough, and the building is well situated in an area with a concentration of ex-pats, upscale coffee shops and, heaven help me, a Burger King that soon will open. There goes the neighborhood.
(But I expect that the open kitchen with its two-burner electric stovetop, bath with pink tiles, master bedroom with bubblegum-pink sheets, lukewarm water in the shower and fluorescent lighting will prove to be too much to bear for an extended period — that and a bigger reason that I’ll detail toward the end of this post. One attraction is the rooftop pool, however.
(For the $1,000 a month we’re spending on a furnished 2BR, how can I complain? Well, you’ll see.)
Since I spent three weeks here in March, I have encountered a few surprises. Continue reading