All the evidence suggests it would be incredibly easy to recruit me to a cult. I am easily seduced it seems. Luckily, to date, I’ve mainly fallen into the clutches of relatively benign denominations like my Smiley Paces Running Club. When I first joined it was £2 a year, couldn’t really say ‘no’ to that, despite the fact that even back then I was hardly a runner, and I’ve got worse since that. Destined always to be more hobbit than hare, it was still easy enough to get me to romp willingly into the fold with a bargain membership fee like that! Granted, the subscription fee then ratcheted up to the eye-watering sum of £5 a year in 2016, but I still think its a bargain compared to most other cults of which I am aware. I haven’t had to sign over all of my worldly goods, and although there is a low-key expectation you will drag your weary carcass out for a yomp of some sort now and again, you are incentivised to do this by the lure of fine company and potentially cake. Not a bad exchange in my view.
So, what does this mean for Cambodia? Well, basically now I’ve been sent some pics of where I’ll be staying I’m all for getting on the next plane to Phnom Penh now! Show me a bit of nurturing and attention, lay on some sourced posh accommodation with an online promise and I’m all yours. It has a balcony for goodness sake! Who wouldn’t travel half way across the world to have one of those all to themselves?
Was it Karl Marx or Groucho Marx that was so disdainful as to say he wouldn’t want to join any club that would deign to have him as a member? Acually, it might have been Oscar Wilde, Woody Allen or just plain old Woody from Toy Story (though I think he was a bit clean cut for such a scathing witticism) I’m the opposite. I am so needy that I am pathetically grateful at any external validation. You want me, I’m on my way… You seem to be trying to help me? I shall be loyal for ever!
Hence, today I’m really excited! I’ve had some email correspondence with the CWF administrators regarding accommodation options in Phnom Penh. They have sent me some photos and it suddenly all feels a bit more real. I know that photos can misrepresent things spectacularly, I know that online scams can start with gentle grooming but hey, I’m sold! I do totally trust this organisation to be fair, and the accommodation is consistent with (though rather posher than) the sort of accommodation styles I came across in Vietnam. So, this is where I’ll be staying:
For $360 a month, I get a one bedroom (Condo/apartment) with:
- Free internet
- Water supply: $0.3/m3
- electricity: $0.3/KW
- Washing Machine
- Hot shower
I am told the location of this apartment is about 700 m from the school where I’ll be working so less than 10 minute walk (depending on how many parked up motorbikes yu have to negotiate en route, and whether or not I have to cross any roads. It can take a while until you have your eye in…) Apparently it’s considered a convenient location and near to restaurants. I can even borrow a bike! Yay.
This is the first photo I’ve found of the official school premises by the way. Also, I found a map of sorts too, which shows CWF and it seems to be near to the Russian Market, which I’ve heard of, as a good place for buying almost anything. Probably quite touristy, but may be quite convenient too, especially when I’m just settling in. Look at the attention to detail with those painted ceilings by the way. It’s like a multi-storey Sistine chapel, pretty much indistinguishable from the original probably (a statement I am only authorised to make never having seen the original, just so you know).
For those of you currently doing your own research on accommodation options in Phnom Penh, I’ve also been educated by my hosts about the distinction between a ‘flat’ and an ‘apartment’. Maybe you already know this, but to me in the UK the terms seem interchangeable. My contact in Phnom Penh has explained this as follows:
1. A “Flat” in Cambodia we have a house simply size (4m*15m) with number of floors. must of the land lord in Cambodia they also stay in the same house but different floor. eg: if they stay in the Ground floor they will lease from first floor up to different tenant they mostly provided with full furniture like washing machine, refrigerator, bedding stuff, TV and some basic kitchen supply as you can see in the picture in attached files.2. An”Apartment”In Cambodia we call apartment, but i think in your country you probably call condominium in there they have many apartments with different floors and Rooms. In apartment: you will have one or two bedroom these depend on what you want, living room and kitchen off course with your private bathroom. Most apartment simply provided full furniture too like bedding stuff, table in live room, TV, Refrigerator, washing Machine and basic of kitchen stuff. the apartment more expensive than a flat.
I daresay alternative housing options are available, probably more cheaply if you know what you are doing. Personaly though, I’m happy to go with the recommendation of my host organisation. $360 is about £282 UK pounds and less than half what I pay to rent my flat in Sheffield. For me, the question isn’t ‘could I get it cheaper?’ perhaps I could, the questions are rather ‘is it convenient for work, in a safe location and clean and secure?‘. I believe the people in situ will know that better than me, previous teachers have stayed /are staying there so presumably not too many problems. I know from previous experience I’ll settle in much better if I’m confident about the location, I may or may not be paying over the odds, but as long as I’m living within my means that’s OK as a jumping off point. I still don’t know exactly where it is, but it will be within 700 metres of this splodgy arrow. How exciting!
The washing machine is a big deal for me by the way, as in the hot climate you don’t half get through clothes, and although I don’t expect to do loads of cooking, it will be really nice not to be compelled to leave the accommodation in search of every meal. In Vietnam there were no cooking facilities at all, and that was a pain, even a cup of coffee required a sojourn out in the bustling heat. Also, where I stayed before there was no natural light in the rooms, no real windows at all. I didn’t spend much time there, but I could imagine lounging about in this space, even if the photos are especially flattering. It’s all starting to feel a bit more real now, it’s funny to think in a few short weeks I’ll be there, comparing the reality with the vision of loveliness conveyed in the photos. We shall get the chance to play ‘spot the difference’ between the photos. I’m hoping it will be a hard game, not one made easy by e.g. presence of rodent corpses or sparks shooting out of electrical sockets. I’m quietly confident though. This accomodation is expensive by Cambodian standards. I think the internet will probably be dodgy and the air-conditioning futile, but I do think it will be clean and safe and conveniently located. It will also be an adventure, which is the main thing. Hurrah!
Oh, and I’ve just looked at Happy Cow for vegetarian/ vegan friendly places in Phnom Penh. Looks like there are a fair few, and very near the school Vitking House II, Pidoa nature and Lunar Cafe. Don’t know if they will still be operational, but the runes are grand that there will be some vegetarian options a reasonable distance from where I am based. Loads of places to try, from cheap and cheerful to pretty darned good.
For ease of reference for me, the school location is described as:
Our school is located in the south-west of Phnom Penh, in Toul Tom Poung II commune.
Our mailing address is:
Conversations With Foreigners
#247c, Street 271,
Sangkat Toul Tom Poung II,
Kingdom of Cambodia, 12311
Though I do get the impression that sending parcels is somewhat futile. Oh well!
Despite all I’ve just said, it still feels very unreal…. like a product of my imaginings. Still, not bad for a conjured image. Normally when I let my imagination run riot I end up with something like this, so I’ll carry on with riding the positivity wave a bit longer if it’s all the same to you.