Publisert av: ingridmogstad | 5. april 2011

Almost half-way through

I have had a lot to do lately, and have not been able to find the energy or motivation to blog in a couple of weeks. I can’t believe I’m soon half-way in my stay here. When think about the rest of my stay is seems like a very long time, but when I look back it feels like I just arrived.

I’m starting to find some routines, like bicycling to work three times a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays I work from home. I know where to shop, where to find brown bread, cheese, fruits, vegetables and most of all the other stuff I need to feel comfortable. I have also found out how to make coffee from home in a cheap and relatively healthy way; instant coffee! I praise you instant coffee from Nescafe, thank you for your presence in Cambodia. I would never have imagined how extremely important it would be for me to be able to make my own coffee at home, to be properly comfortable.

I also learn a lot. Thanks to my wonderful Cambodian colleagues I feel like I’m having an actual «cultural experience». The expat scene in Phnom Penh is not big, but if you’re not interested in mingling with locals it is definitively possible to just hang out with other «westerners». I am happy to have a natural place to get to know people from a very different culture than myself, and I feel very included and taken cared of when I go to work. Being the only westerner has it’s benefits and challenges, but most benefits, I like to think.

Almost every week Sinat and I drive around to distribute Mekong Quilts-flyers. This is how we look.

The other day I got to give a sacrifice or a gift to a couple of monks that came to the shop. The monks go around to people’s houses and gather the gifts, and then they bless them with a nice prayer for good luck and with some singing. One day I went out to give some Riel, and the poor monk got so surprised he gave me a short blessing (very short!) in English before he run away. Sinat and Channy thought it was hilarious, and I was a little offended. Second try was better; I got a long and nice blessing and some English at the end. «Good luck in your life» he said, and I must say it felt great having somebody saying that to me! Thank you, little monk. Next time I’ll even remember to take off my shoes which is considered polite in Khmer culture, and then I’ll be a great blessing-receiver.

Besides from addressing monks I try to pick up some Khmer, the official Cambodian language. I have three classes a week with my great Khmer-teacher Vibol, who comes to our house to teach Bianca and me. Bianca takes it all a little faster than I do so we figures it was better to have separate classes. In addition to language Vibol also teaches us Khmer etiquette, because he believes that is just as important as the language. I will now demonstrate some of the Khmer I have Learned the last six weeks;

-Sousdey, Bong! Knom schmuah Inga. Sok-sa-bai dtee?

*Sousdey, paan, sok-sa-bai, ah-kun. -Bong schmuah ai?

*Knom schmuah Vibol. Inga twaa-gaa nau naa?

-Kmom twaa-gaa nau Mekong Quilts. Bong mook-bii naa?

*Knom mook-bii Kampuchea.

-Li hay!

Is roughly translated to:

-Good day, older brother! My name is Inga. How are you?

*Good day, younger sister, I’m fine thank you.

-What is your name?

*My name is Vibol. Where do you work?

-I work at Mekong Quilts. Where are you from?

*I am from Cambodia.

-Bye!

One piece of quite awkward conversation there, but the point is, I can introduce myself in Khmer. Which is more satisfying than being able to do it in French.

Vibol desperately trying to teach me how to count Riel in Khmer.

Other highlights for me have been to take pictures for the «Let’s do it! Cambodia»-project some friends of mine are working on. They are going to clean the city Phnom Penh on the 23. of April. The poster turned out quite interesting, thank you Let’s do it!-team for letting me join.

Indeed, I made this my profile picture on Facebook.

I have also held a presentation about Mekong Plus for almost 200 Cambodian students this week-end, which was first nerve wrecking and then quite satisfying to be done with. It was great for me to practice in a place where probably only half of the audience actually could understand what I was saying.

So with all its beauty, weirdness, randomness, friendliness and challenges, these are some parts of my Phnom Penh life. For my own sake I should blog more often, considering it will be valuable material when I’m doing my mandatory post-work in Norway. It is also a good way to get stuff of my chest. I still though, find my current lifestyle exhausting. How do you working people do it? Can’t say I don’t miss the freedom and independence of the student life from time to time. The grass will always be greener on the other side, I suppose. Just for the sake of ending my post with a cheesy pro-verb.

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Responses

  1. Så bra at du finner støtte i kaffen din! Selv om vi selvfølgelig har alt av vestlige varer (og litt til) må jeg si jeg verdsetter min gode gamle Twinings Green tea. Og munkene virker koselige, en personlig selvtillit-boost høres fint ut! Du gjør rett i å savne studentlivet syns jeg, selv savner jeg ikke arbeidslivet, hehe.

  2. Savner deg her hjemme. Enkelt og greit. Føles litt bedre når jeg vet du har munkene på din side 🙂

  3. Hils Sinat og si at det er et flott bilde av dere to! I morgen er det bare tolv dager til vi sees. Skal bli så fint.

  4. Endelig har jeg kommet meg litt bort fra Skjold(Tromsø, så ikke veldig langt..) så nå har jeg et brukbart nett og fikk enedlig lest litt blogg og sett litt bilder. Virker som du trives og jeg jeg gleder meg masse til å se deg igjen når du er tilbake ❤

  5. Haha du er og blir en te-drikker, Åse. Varm drikke er viktig for god trivsel, jeg er ikke i tvil. Du hadde likt Asia! Savner deg også Trine, håper du har det fint hjemme. så godt å høre fra deg Mari! Gleder meg masse til å se deg til sommeren! Skal få sendt litt postkort, men de kommer visst ikke alltid frem. Det til mormor gjorde det ikke, men skal prøve likevel;)


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