Phnom Penh: impressions shaker!

Landing in Phnom Penh, the airport is very small to be the country’s main one. I immediately like the feeling: humidity, hot, no stress, people but easy going everything.
My first intention is to change USD to Riels but a German guy that apparently lives there convinces me that it makes no sense; I finally consider he might be right when I realize a few hundred can be A LOT of Riels.
We take a taxi; a tuk tuk would be cheaper but I decide not to stress my boyfriend too soon with traffic anarchy 😉
While the guy drives us to our guesthouse, the city slowly passes by; tons of crowded scooters (I wonder how whole families can fit on those little things!), not many cars, everything is pleasantly moving at a slow pace, buildings are not high, many vivid colors – I breath in – I am finally in South East Asia – I breath out, I breath in.. I finally feel so at ease..
Rain is dropping little by little, gently, Sun is getting ready for bed and we get to our shabby and clean guesthouse; we drop our backpacks, buy the bus tickets for the day after and hush hush go outside exploring!
Raining. The Royal Palace is right there. The Riverfront. Incense.
A lot of Incense.
A little altar and many people gathering, many of which are going to pray.
An old woman selling lotus flowers, her features struck me deep, I so want to take a picture of her but somehow it feels disrespectful.. intense white purplish flowers, her grey hair and elegant face, her clear eyes, silently sitting on the pavement while little kids around are playing half naked in their torn clothes..
I am in Cambodia, I am in Cambodia, have to repeat to myself!
Phnom Penh with its decadent touch, scares us at first when it gets dark; streets feel dirty; people look abandoned.
A good dinner with amok dishes on the Riverfront, bright lights and happy tourists shout us the opposite.
On the morning after the sun is shining, from the minivan window the city appears more than interesting.
I can’t make up my mind.
One week later, we are back for a night’s stopover. Coming from rice fields, water, ancient temples, green and muddy streets, the city texture is dark, our guesthouse dirty, the road downstairs even more.
But every bit is telling me not to give up.
Again, a week after. Back from the lazy south, white peculiar beaches, even more peculiar people, dusty roads and improper westerners’ encounters.
This time the guesthouse is cozier, the area even better – and it does help.
We do all the sightseeing, the good and the sad one, which is awful to consider as sightseeing, really. I feel repugnant as part of the human race at the genocide sites; I feel scared on the tuk tuk when somebody on a motorbike tries to rob us; I feel overwhelmed with heat and people and chaos and pollution but I feel so content with most of Cambodians, I am untroubled and rested sitting on the grass outside of the Royal Palace chatting with happy bright young monks; I feel so lucky to be here..
Once at home, in quiet Europe, all the impressions and ideas and memories and colors are in disorder.. everything gets in the brain blender and the shake is ready: I feel Phnom Penh got me, in the end.
It is when I found myself thinking “next time when I go back, I will…” that I suddenly know that city so heterogeneous has achieved a special place hidden in my little me.

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