Anna Velas-Suarin

Getting to Know Cambodia

I am now in Cambodia! I arrived last Friday, June 1, the first day of my birth month (a nice way to start one’s birth month, right?) I stayed overnight in Singapore last Thursday (May 31) and was able to bond with my good friend, Len Pagalanan and her friends who, incidentally, all hail from Cebu.

Anyway, Len, her friends and I met up at Orchard Road (literally!), and just sat on a bench by the road and enjoyed Singapore’s local beer, “Tiger.” It was truly a memorable night in Singapore! We had so much fun talking and swapping stories including break-ups and heartaches! Seems to me that it’s really therapeutic to just talk about your heartaches with fellow women (and ok, even men!). It was also great being with Len again after such a long time. Like me, she also had to “run away” from Manila to settle some personal struggles. Well, I could see that she’s well on her way to recovery (if she’s not yet there? Although seeing her, it seems like she’s already found her peace). Way to go, Len!

Stopover in Singapore. It is nice to see that Singapore is keeping true to its environmental management principles.

It was also great seeing Singapore again. It is one of my favorite places in the world because of its seriousness in keeping the air and the environment clean. In Singapore, you can still enjoy walking along tree-lined boulevards despite the growth in the real estate sector. I hope that it can continue its wise environmental management despite its massive infrastructural projects.

Anyway, I am typing this blog in my hotel room here in Phnom Penh. Luckily, they have free internet access in rooms and the technician helped me set up my LAN connection. Not bad, huh? I’ll be staying in this hotel for maybe a couple more days because I am still looking for an apartment so I can afford a longer stay.

Yesterday, Tito Frank, a good friend of mine who’s been here for more than a couple of years already toured me around the city and I was able to take some photos already. I have just posted some of them here in Friendster. Sorry, I can’t put the correct names of the landmarks yet as I didn’t bring a notebook yesterday. One thing I noticed here is that the drivers are also aggressive (wink! wink!). If I can’t drive in Manila, it’s equally challenging here. πŸ™‚

The FCC in Phnom Penh reminded me of Cafe Adriatico in Manila πŸ™‚

I spent my first night here drinking the local beer, “Angkor”, with Tito Frank. I love the FCC (Cafe); it reminds me of a Malate bar like Cafe Adriatico. But of course, I missed Manila when we entered the place. Nostalgia enveloped my whole being. One thing special also about the FCC is the fantastic view of the river if you’re seated by the wide veranda.

The FCC is located in Sisowath Quay (also called as Riverside Street). The next day (yesterday), we cruised along that street. It hugs the sides of Bassac, Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers and on one side, you’d find more cozy bars, cafes, and restaurants. I told Tito Frank I want to live in that side of the town but unfortunately, when we checked out apartment rates, they are really very expensive (one studio apartment costs $750/month). But the view is really nice…can you imagine waking up in the morning and just walking towards your veranda to see the magnificent view of the water with its silver reflections on its surface? <Sigh!> Anyway, I told myself to stop dreaming…but who knows?! Maybe I’d end up in one of those apartments in the future! πŸ˜€ Here are some of the photos that I took in the vicinity.

A part of rRverside Street in Phnom Penh (also called Sisowath Quay).

A mobile vendor plying his trade along Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh.

Some of the boats offer cruising services (some are floating restaurants, too).

The next agenda yesterday was to eat lunch and I was so glad because my friend brought me to a Pinoy restaurant owned by a gracious lady named “Helen”. Ang sarap ng dinuguan dun! Then another friend of mine (Idon) joined us for lunch. Later, we went to Idon’s place (he’s sharing the flat with his sis, Ate Cel). We enjoyed the whole afternoon just swapping stories about their Cambodia sojourn and of course, I was able to get bits and pieces of what Cambodia really is. I am excited to know more. We promised each other that we will go to Angkor Wat, and maybe even Vietnam. Imagine, you can go to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) from here by bus for about 6 hours. Not bad!

I want to see the museums soon. I was told of the horrible reminders of the war and the killings…and I am sure I will be horrified, too. It is always a big mystery why certain people can do such a violent and senseless act. We all feel sad whenever we are reminded of wars. However, those memories make us appreciate the peace that we are enjoying today and move us to do more concrete steps so we can lessen, if not totally eradicate, such events again.

What is my first impression of Cambodia and particularly Phnom Penh? Well, it is like a provincial city like General Santos and Davao but definitely, it is also very unique. It has its own character. The streets could be chaotic and noisy, too, but there is also some quiet dignity in the place. So far, I like what I am seeing. I am a little anxious because I am a complete stranger here but the city seems smaller (compared to Manila, for example) and I’m sure, even if I will get lost sometimes, I’d still find my way eventually. Is this too much wishful thinking? πŸ™‚ Watch out for my new adventures!

[Re-post of a blog dated June 2, 2007 (from my previous site).]Β 


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