Stories from the Road: Month Feb

 

Some changes took place in February, mostly good things of course. But there were also some things that will set me back (finance wise) for the next few months, which meant less travel time for this year. That’s ok because I’m not in a hurry at the moment to chase destinations. Meanwhile, I spent the weekends around the city with friends, catching up on books, celebrating birthdays and Chinese New Year. I would say February leaned towards building and keeping RELATIONSHIPS here in the Kingdom, since it’s all about Valentines Day. Here’s the summary for Month 2 in 2015.

Where we went. 

  • Wat Botum, Phnom Penh
  • Boeng Kak Mosque, Phnom Penh

Major highlights.

#I am now a homeowner. I had placed a deposit for a house about 3 years ago, paying progressive installment payments until my dad showed me a mail that said “House completed.” I was happy and excited at finally having a home of my own at this age. Well, it took such a long time to achieve this with all the hard work, and I’m glad I made that decision. A place on the 19th floor in the sky, small, cozy and just enough for me. I don’t need a big place yet as I’m still abroad at the moment, and will now have to work extra hard to pay for the interior decorations, lights, fan installation, grills, maintenance fees, monthly loan payments. Yes, this is turning out to be a major finance change and I will need to start prioritizing my spending. I am super glad though that the house is now ready.

A new home in the sky.

A new home in the sky.

 

#A birthday on a Valentines Day. I wished it was mine, but unfortunately it was not. Planning for this birthday celebration was tough because it is one of the most expensive day beside Christmas. It was my partner-in-crime and best friends forever and ever birthday here in the Kingdom. His very first time celebrating it abroad meant it should be a memorable one. We went out to Spark Tawandeng Restaurant where singing and dancing performances took place on stage while we had dinner. Then the next day we went to K-West restaurant which had Valentines’ Day dinner course, cheaper than other dinner courses in town.

A+ for table setting on Valentine's Day Dinner Course at K-West.

‘A’ for table setting for Valentine’s Day Dinner Course at K-West.

 

#Observing Valentines’ Day in the Kingdom. The locals are into Valentine’s Day celebration like the rest of the world, with flowers and teddy bear stalls set up along the roads. I was told that although this was not part of the Khmer culture, it was still celebrated by the youths. However, on this day it was said that many youths take this day to give up their chastity and the Government curbs this by implementing events such as walkathon, blood donation drive to shift the attention. It’s a good idea and also gets them to do something good on this day.

Valentines Day in the Kingdom was a colorful affair.

Valentines Day in the Kingdom was a colorful affair.

#Having tea and good conversation at The Shop 240. I had two days off from work and spent one evening having tea and desserts with my Client, catching up on life as well as ambition. For someone so young, she has motivations and determination to be successful within the next few years. What inspires her, inspires me as well since we have the same motivations in life. [Location: #39, Street 240, Phnom Penh].

#Visiting Wat Botum. On Sothearos Boulevard sits a pagoda called Wat Botum, which was built in the 1400’s. Just across the pagoda compound is the popular Wat Botum Park where locals can be seen jogging, playing in the playground, walking and dancing in the evening. Wat Botum consists of burial spots of prominent politicians and eminent persons along with the Khmer Writers’ Association office. [Location: Sothearos Boulevard, Phnom Penh].

The beautiful designed Wat Botum compound.

The beautiful designed Wat Botum compound.

 

# A fashion shopping place for the ladies in Pencil, Riverside. When one of my colleague mentioned Pencil, Riverside, I thought she meant the supermarket which I had been to before. It turns out that this Pencil outlet is specifically for clothes and fashion for the ladies. I was surprised and delighted to see small shops selling shoes, bags, tops, dresses, and accessories at good prices. This indoor outlet also has fashion items for men and children. [Location: #483, Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh].

# Trying out a local hair saloon for the first time. Yes it is true that I have problems trusting anyone with my hair because it is fragile and breaks easily. However, since I have not been back to Kuala Lumpur for awhile, I decided to just give it a try and went to Famous Hair & Nail Spa, recommended by my good friend Beth. It costs $6 for a good hair wash and a cut started at $5 (depending on hair length). The owner, a very well presented lady, greeted us and gave instructions to the staff on my preference (to cut). The hair wash turned out to be so good (I almost fell asleep) while the hair cut turned out well. [Location: #252, Rose Garden Condominium, Sangkat Tonle Basaac, Phnom Penh].

#Having the usual coffee in Feel Good Cafe. It’s hard to find a good coffee place here and when we found Feel Good, we became their usual customers, returning on weekends for their cappuccino. The owners and staff are friendly, who greets us warmly each time we arrived. Lately, they have also taken to remember my coffee preference, repeating “Cappuccino madam?” even before I opened the menu. [Location: #79, Street 136, Phnom Penh].

Pancakes and good coffee in Feel Good Cafe.

Pancakes and good coffee in Feel Good Cafe.

#Street photography weekend. We were in the city this month and went out to capture shots of local sceneries while we were out. This was when we saw the Phnom Penh Hop On Hop Off bus out of the blue, our first time seeing such service in the city. Cyclo tours were out taking passengers to see the Khmer architectures and street barber shops were busy with customers coming to have their hair cut for the weekend.

Street side barber can get awfully busy on weekends.

Street side barber can get awfully busy on weekends.

#Catching up with the family in Ah Man Green Halal Restaurant. We were told that there was a nice restaurant nearby our house which served good roti canai and nasi lemak. This was good because it meant we didn’t need to go very far to Old Stadium for a dose of nasi lemak. The place was small yet cosy. While paying for our food, an elderly man asked us whether we were Malaysians. He reminded me of my late grandfather, with his khaki colored suit and briefcase. It was his last day there with his family and we wished him safe travels back to Malaysia. [Location: #129, Street 184, Phnom Penh]. 

#Boeng Kak Mosque. Boeng Kak used to be a very pretty lake with fishing activities until it was bought and taken over for development. This resulted in the lake being dried up and land were paved to make way for upcoming buildings. Whenever I passed by this area, I would notice the white mosque from far and decided to visit it one weekend. Standing tall with two minarets, the mosque is accessible through Calamatte, just beside Phnom Penh Hotel where a row of Halal Muslim restaurants can be found. This mosque is considered to be the biggest and the only one I’ve seen so far in the city for the Khmer Muslim population.

The Boeng Kak Mosque in Calamette area.

The Boeng Kak Mosque in Calamette area.

#Books I’ve read for the month. I miss reading and took this time to finish up a few books that I brought with me including “Small Steps and Paws”, “Wild”, “Hundred Foot Journey” and “A Night on the Orient Express”. Typical of me to read books with travel themes! I find that reading this theme made me of aware of how to write and express myself better. The journey pictured in these books were also inspiring and made my mind wander off to India, Paris and California.

#Eating at The (posh) Shop for lunch. One of things I wanted to do was to eat at new places and going to The Shop in Central Apartment, was one of them. My colleague brought us here for lunch one day and told me that the rental price was around USD $2,000 a month for a unit in this building, equipped with a private swimming pool and cleaning services. [Location: #1B, Street 102, Central Apartments, Phnom Penh]. 

The gorgeous Central Apartment also known as Mansion.

The gorgeous Central Apartment also known as Mansion.

What a bummer and lessons.

#Financial setback. This was unexpected when my dad informed me that the new house is ready and at the same time, I would be changing jobs which meant not getting a full salary for this month. I hope that the situation would turn out better for the next few months even if it means cutting down on more unnecessary spending , pushing back any new travel plans for the year.

On working abroad.

#A sweet farewell. After much thought, I decided not to further my contract with my former employee and to move on to other avenues. I definitely felt sad for leaving the team behind but for the better good I know we will cross paths again. We have been spending most of the time in office together, going for lunches, dinners, tea time and they had been kind in making me feel at home. Their friendliness and thought in making sure I could eat the food together with them, would be treasured.

Farewell lunch with the local team. Missing them already.

Farewell lunch with the local team. Missing them already.

#Doing the right thing up to the last day. I felt relieved and satisfied that my exit was done in the most professional manner and with honesty. This was to avoid having any burnt bridges since I will still be working in the city, which is relatively small for this industry. Work was handed over to the next person, quickly assimilating him in the portfolio and warming him up to the team. On the last day, I said thank you to my boss for all the things they have done during my stay which prompted to say we could still remain friends, even after that.

#Starting on an auspicious day. It’s the first day of Chinese New Year when I joined the current office and it also gave confusion to a lot of people there. One of it was because a lot of people, especially the Management were on leave or away for work and secondly because the HR didn’t realize I was to join on this day, which fell on Thursday. The office vibe was very reminiscent of the Mad Men series, with sofas made available in the Client Servicing area as well as the Creative area.

Loving the sofa for brainstorming sessions in our area.

Loving the sofa for brainstorming sessions in our area.

 

What’s next. 

Receiving guests from Malaysia and hosting them around the city.

About Yafieda Jamil

A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *