Stories from the Road: Month April

 

Another busy month has gone by, bringing along with it the summer heat. It’s been that hot, really. Despite this situation, I’ve had a chance to go on a family trip to Europe which turned out to be a memorable journey. Like all families, there are bound to be some stress and tension when planning an itinerary but at the end of it all, the strength of our bond overcame those challenges. We had so much fun and planned on going for another trip together next year.

We’ve also had visitors who stayed for a week and it was nice to bring them somewhere out of the city, exploring the province. It was a short trip during the long Khmer New Year long holiday. There were some ups and downs too and I guess we learned a lot during this time together, especially not to visit Cambodia during the hot season as it can make everyone cranky.

Where we went.

  • London, United Kingdom (1-8 April)
  • Kep, Cambodia (14-16 April)

Major Highlights.

#A family trip to London. My parents had wanted another trip and since they have just retired, they decided on the big city of London. Of course planning it with 7 family members proved to be a challenge and my sister-in-law was efficient in handling all our traveling plans from different locations. I spent 7 days in the city, arriving together with my parents and then leaving earlier with my sister. We stayed in an apartment with a view of Hyde Park along with the Kensington Palace. It was divine compared to my last stay in a small hotel in this city. Since my parents stayed there for 2 weeks, we spent the days together on a road trip to Bath, the Harry Potter Studio (yes!) and the Stonehenge. There was also a courtesy visit to my mums’ friend where they served a delicious 3-course dinner for all of us. We felt bad for leaving early but we had no choice as had hired a car for the day. The most important thing of all was that everyone had a good time and we look forward to planning more family trips together in the years to come.

Spending April with the family in the city of London.

Spending April with the family in the city of London.

 

#The artist & writer comes to visit. My friend, Louise, the artist arrived on the exact same day that I had arrived from London and then straight to Phnom Penh. Lets just say the jetlag and the heat struck me pretty bad when we got into the city. She was quite independent, and able to explore the city on her own even though I mentioned that the weather is quite hot here. When Sue arrived, they took a trip down to Toul Sleng, Genocide Museum and did a little shopping at Central Market.

Taking Louise & Sue around the city for a taste of Phnom Penh.

Taking Louise & Sue around the city for a taste of Phnom Penh.

 

#The Khmer New Year celebration. This was one of the most important and popular local holidays where they would head back to the provinces to spend time with their family. The city would usually be empty with a majority of the businesses and tourist attractions closed for at least 1 week. This was my first time celebrating Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh and I got to spend it with my friends from Malaysia. We decided not to stay in the city though since there wouldn’t be any tuk tuks around.

#Spending the long holidays in Kep. We planned for a getaway to Kep, which was 3 hours from Phnom Penh and stayed in a hotel close to the Rabbit Island jetty. It was quiet and far from the crowd filled Kep beach. We took a long walk from the Crab Market all the way to the beach even though I disliked walking in the hot weather. I grumbled but went along until I decided to take the tuk tuk back while Louise decided to walk on. I think when you’ve stayed in a hot city like this for awhile you just want to be slightly comfortable when traveling. Our writer friend, Sue arrived and we spent the night having dinner in a private yacht club overlooking the ocean. The food and company turned out to be great.

Wandering in Kep during the Khmer New Year break.

Wandering in Kep during the Khmer New Year break.

 

#Cambodia Urban Art Festival. The French Institute has been active in organizing arts festival in the Kingdom and this was another one that I attended last month. It featured local and international graffiti artists who drew on different walls located in Phnom Penh. We missed on the tuk tuk tour because it was fully booked so we hired our own instead, following the map provided by the institute. We located walls by Theo, Lisa Mam & Pheap Tarr, missing out on walls at Le Moon bar and at the French Embassy.

The Cambodian Urban Art saw walls in the city painted in graffiti.

The Cambodian Urban Art saw walls in the city painted in graffiti.

 

What a bummer and lessons.

#Got stopped by the local police. Well it was mainly because the tuk tuk I was riding on, decided to go into a road that had become one way. We were stopped by the police and given a lecture on following the road signs. The driver argued that there were a few tuk tuk ahead of us that went drove on the same road and were not stopped by the police, but they didn’t want to hear any of it. Since the mall was a walk away, I told the driver I would just walk and the police said no. Worried and concerned that I would have to fork out money to save us, I insisted he let me go since I am not local. The driver negotiated and finally I was allowed to walk while he turned back and went out from the this particular road. It was the first time I’ve encountered such situation and we were lucky that they let us go within that few minutes.

#Got cheated by the tuk tuk driver. When the driver who sent me to the mall went off, I didn’t get to pay him because I didn’t have small change at the time. I returned to home with another tuk tuk and decided to pass the money to his friend whom I was also familiar with (they have been working at the hotel for a few years now). The next day when we wanted to go out, it turns out that the money was not passed on the driver. There was an argument between them and the driver said that I never gave the money to his friend. I was angry and told the friend to hand over the money to the driver. He just laughed and said “Ok Ok I will pay him later.” After that I found out that the man would not give the money and I decided to just pay him what was due. As for the tuk tuk guy who took my money, I made sure he knew that I was angry with him and that we would not recommend anyone to use his service ever.

On Working Abroad.

#Making adjustments. It’s been 2 months now in the new place and I am still adjusting to the culture here. I’ve made friends with a Vietnam and French colleague who are good listeners and steady in their opinions. We don’t really work with each other and so this relationship proved to be more about life than about the office. It’s important to have someone whom you can talk to in the office as it makes the stay more pleasant.

#Males top females in the Agency. The former Agency I was in had more male colleagues than females and this office was no exception. There were only 2 ladies out of 6 servicing people where I came from and over here there’s only 3 ladies out of 8 servicing people in our department. Not to mention only 1 in the creative room. I hope that there would be more positions for locals and women in the advertising industry here as it is a growing one. There’s ample of career opportunity for them and we could always learn from one another.

What’s next. 

No plans yet for the next month but I am looking forward to another upcoming long holiday.

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.

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