So, CWF sorted my accommodation for me at the Ghech Summit 1 Serviced apartments on #106, STreet 432, Sangkat Tuol Tom Pong 2, Khan Chamkar Morn, Phnom Penh.
They are very near the Russian Market, which is handy for getting tuk tuks home, as none of them can ever find the actual apartment. The flat I have is fairly characterless, but quiet – a rare thing in Phnom Penh, spacious and light. It is pretty clean (miniature ants are everywhere, and I fear some have taken up residence in my computer keyboard which could be interesting for my lesson planning as the weeks roll by). I have seen some mice dropping though, but as I’m not cooking anything more ambitious than ovaltine in here I think they may be en route elsewhere.
I have a balcony which looks out onto a back street. Mostly it is so hot, I keep the curtains drawn, but occasionally I venture out to hang washing, watch rain, or just observe the world go by. The people in adjacent apartments seem to be mostly Cambodian families. Some children have taken to waving at me when they see me which is quite fun. I hear all sorts in the street, the noisy departure of people on motorbikes off to work or school, cramming on board as many as they can. Sometimes a commotion – one day an ambulance was there and many people hung over their balconies to have a good gawp (as did I). I’m trying to harvest and preserve these memories, it’s so easy to get caught up in the big stuff, than the everyday fascinating routines are over-looked.
Here, we are quite near a Wat – I’ve not been to it yet, you’d be amazed at how little time there is for doing exploring with all the lesson planning and preparation going on. Early days though. One consequence of our proximity to the Wat is that each morning you see monks robed in the saffron gowns and carrying pale orange umbrellas doing their rounds in search of alms. I’ve wanted to capture this, but it has always felt a bit too intrusive. However, when I happened to espy them walking away down the street whilst I was up on my balcony that seemed OK. I don’t know if they come to the same houses everyday, or if it was a one-off. They have large metal drum-like lidded- bowls with them into which food is placed (I presume) in return they bestow a blessing. You see people with heads bowed and hands placed respectfully at their foreheads as they receive it. I’ll try to find other views from my balcony to add. But for now, here are the monks, going about their business in the early morning.
In other views, check out the ubiquitous laundry places – one fellow volunteer commented on how weird it is walking past his own washing hanging drying in the street on the way to school; the ‘by the hour’ hotel service sigh; the wedding tent blocking the street – quiet at present but just you wait; and a burning stove used for road side cooking. All very common sights everywhere you go round here. Also a random view from a fellow volunteers independent accommodation a little way from here. He has fantastic views across the sky line as a reward for the 8 plus flights of stairs he has to negotiate to get to his fourth floor apartment. His is probably a better option than mine to be honest, a bit cheaper, more rough and ready but with more character, and just the street adjacent to the official volunteers’ house. That is the fun factory for sure, but a bit too basic for me with its insects, noise and difficulty in keeping clean. Not all the rooms there have windows and there is no air-con either. I’d love to think I was that adaptable, but you know what, I’m really not. I like my place with its backstreet view: