Watching the world go by in Phnom Penh

I terrified the security guard this morning.  It wasn’t deliberate, but maybe I’m lighter on my feet these days what with my new exercise regime (if only), so he didn’t hear me coming. In any event, as I wandered across the car port about 6.30 this morning I crossed paths with the security/maintenance guy who was lost in his own thoughts and gazing about abstractly so my presence caught him by surprise.  He quite literally screamed and leapt backwards, making me jump and cry out like a B-movie horror film where all the characters are in such a frenzy of fear they will jump at their own shadows, but not see e.g. the demon presence that is actually sat on their shoulders.  It was OK though, there was much elaborate mutual laughter and apologising, and the adrenalin surge woke me up a bit more as a useful preparation for heading to the gym.  First of all though, I deposited my rubbish in the bin area (never sure if I should actually put it in the bin, or alongside.  I know this sounds bizarre, but I have a feeling someone actually painstakingly goes through each rubbish bag looking for things to recycle).  I also took a snap of this plant, which I believe if not actually a pineapple, is a plant sufficiently closely related to said fruits that it illustrates how they grow.  A fact of which I was previously unaware prior to coming to Cambodia.  In as much as I’d thought of it at all, I’d assumed they grew on trees. They do not.  It is being grown in one of the borders on the perimeter of the car park below my building.  I could see it from my balcony and went to investigate.  I am also taking the precaution of including a random pineapple crop image from google, so you can see what they look like en masse.  Amazing I think.  Not at all what I’d imagined.

The gym was uneventful, apart from me having a panic that I’d lost my locker key, only I hadn’t.  Then, as mercifully there was no teachers’ workshop or meetings today, I went for a leisurely breakfast via a search for an ATM.  It was better going with someone else, and he located one I’d not noticed before.  I’ve tried a few and none of them work.  It is reassuring to have someone else about when you are getting cash. I managed to get $300 out which was less than I wanted (I needed to pay my rent) but it was a massive relieve to get anything.  I’d be lifelong indentured labour if I had to work off my rent money by cleaning or whatever.  I saw my landlady in the passageway as I returned to my flat. She’s cleaning out an adjacent apartment ready for a new tenant.  I gave her the cash, and then wondered if I should have been a bit smarter about getting a reciept. I trust her though. It’ll be fine, or not.   Time will tell.

We then went to breakfast at Yejj, which has excellent balcony views, a respectable cheese omelette breakfast offering, and surprisingly good (but not cheap) coffee.  It was grand sitting up there and watching the world go by.

I became increasingly fascinated with the comings and goings of monks to the restaurant opposite. I wish I’d kept count, but honestly, we were in the coffee shop for about an hour, and during that time a constant procession of monks came in search of alms and offering blessings. I  lost count after about twenty.  To begin with the woman proprietor personally gave the money or whatever and received a blessing, after the first half a dozen or so had been and gone in their pairs, she delegated this task to her young daughter, who solemnly stood to receive the blessings.  More and more kept coming – she’d be bankrupt if she paid them all out, in the end she did turn them away, including a group of about five monks who came all at once!  It was all good-natured, they left laughing and smiling, but I wonder if it feels wrong to say ‘no’ to a monk in this way.  There has to be a limit though, it was getting ridiculous.  I’ll never complain about charity junk mail again, it’s a lot easier to bin and forget than ridding your doorstep of a quintet of parasol holding monks bedecked in saffron robes I’d say!

Other sights offered up were a fantastic duo of musicians, they are really good, busking sort of.  It was only as they moved away I realised one was guiding the other who was presumably blind.  If I see them again when I am street level I would give them something, it was impressive, and it is a hard enough life as it is if you are at the margins of society, more so if you have a disability.


There is always something of interest to see, the laden carts, the colourful tuk tuks, and the other day instead of a wedding tent blocking the road, a funeral marquee.  This one had gone for complete obstruction of the way.  Nothing would get past this, no matter until the funeral started, motorbikes and people just pass on through the corridor of drapes created by the tent prior to the actual ceremony.  It is only the black and white of the internal drapes that makes this recognisable as a funeral tent, the style and layout otherwise seem identical to me.

Eventually, the need to go to the supermarket, return home for a shower and embark on lesson planning took hold and we moved on.  It was a nice morning. The rhythm of the day is much less stressful when you don’t have extra meetings that take all morning.

In other news, some late addition photos have come my way.  They are from our trip to Kratie of dolphin watching, khmer dancing, visiting the temple en route and taking the boat to the homestay.  I can’t be bothered to go back and edit those posts, so let’s just enjoy a little visual recap here shall we?  Or not, obviously, the choice is yours.

Have a nice day.



2 responses to “Watching the world go by in Phnom Penh

  1. Lovely to be sitting in Jonty’s waiting for Helen to finish her rparkrun .. ..with your blog for company. Not quite as good as your company in person…..but a lovely way to catch up with you! Dx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, bless you! And we are in real time for a rare moment. I will think of you with your lattes and scrambled eggs and mushrooms on wholemeal. Don’t forget to count those mushrooms for me as promised, I need to be confident usual quality control systems are working correctly. Missing you all, but with you in spirit. Love’n’hugs. Lx


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