As I lay sleepless in my small room on the top floor of a Cambodian guesthouse, the chop and whirl of the ceiling fan above me, for some reason, of that song by the Doors. “This is the end. My only friend, the end.” The end of what though? It seems like a song about beginnings would be more appropriate. This is my first night in Southeast Asia. My brain feels cracked and scrambled from the 40+ hours of travel it took to get here and the 12 hour time difference from back home. It has become evident that no amount of exhaustion is going to overcome this jetlag tonight, so I figured I would just write until I’m delirious again and then try to pass out for a few hours.
Outside the walls of my guesthouse is the dusty sprawl of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Tomorrow, our LanguageCorps group will finally be complete, so we are going for a walking tour of the city’s major attractions and landmarks. Hopefully I will be able to get some good photos to post up here. I am excited to meet everyone in my group. There are 25 of us
First Impressions: So what’s the first thing you notice about Southeast Asia? I think 100% of travelers to the region would unanimously agree that it’s the traffic. The only word I can think of to describe it is “chaos.” From a glance, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of traffic laws, or if there are, they are clearly not enforced. There is no system of lanes, traffic lights, stop signs, or turn signals to speak of. The only safety device drivers don’t mindutilizing liberally is their horn. It is not uncommon to see a family of four or five Cambodians squeezed onto a single motor scooter. Crossing the street here is an adventure unto itself. No matter how long I stay here in Southeast Asia, and no matter how accustomed to their culture and society I may become, the traffic will always serve as a reminder that I am certainly not in Kansas anymore.
Training: I’ve been here for three days now. We started our two weeks of training here in Cambodia yesterday. Class goes from 9 in the morning to 5:30 in the afternoon, so the days are long but the teachers really try to avoid monotonous lecturing. All three of our teachers are interesting and entertaining in their own ways. Rick is an American expat that has been bumming around the world for the past 30 years. He could easily have been the runner up in Dos Equis’ casting of the “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials. Billy is the youngest of the three and probably the easiest to talk to and hang out with. Steve is a short, bald Irishman who would look more appropriate among a group of rowdy football hooligans rather than a classroom of Cambodian youth. They all are clearly experienced teachers though, and I do enjoy their classes. We do a variety of games, activities, and group work to help the hours pass. Even so, it doesn’t leave much time for exploration and I’m afraid I may leave Phnom Penh in two weeks feeling like I didn’t see everything there was to see. The only sight-seeing we do has to happen during our lunch break. I suppose it can’t be helped though. And it’s not like we haven’t gotten to see and do a lot. We are going to Angkor Wat this weekend, and that will surely be an incredible experience.
I suppose that's all for now. I regret the brevity of this entry, but things are so busy right now that I barely have the time or energy to write. I’m sure that will change soon though. Until then, chao amigos…