Stories from the Road: Month June
Half of the year is gone now and when I’ve reflected on the past travel round-up months, it’s been good with many learnings on slow traveling. The weather in June was still sunny as hell and I’ve had to minimize going out during the day for fear of getting sick from the heat. Overall I stayed put in Phnom Penh city, becoming a bit more domesticated on the weekends. Nevertheless, there were a few new cafes which we visited for good coffee and desserts.
Ramadhan also began this month in June and I feel blessed for doing this the second time round in Phnom Penh. It was a bit challenging last year but this time, I’ve gotten used to the things that I took for granted back home. You can read more about it here “Living Abroad: Spending Ramadhan in Cambodia“. Here’s the summary of living in Phnom Penh for the month of June.
Where we went.
- Stayed put in Phnom Penh.
#The Sabah earthquake tragedy. This news not only rocked everyone back home in Malaysia but around the world as well. The lives lost and heroes emerging from the tragedy was an event that will be remembered forever. The mountain guides are extremely responsible in making sure that everyone who climbs Mount Kinabalu comes back safe and sound. The country declared 08 June as National Mourning Day for the lives lost during the earthquake.
#Resuming the travel journal. Whenever I travel, I would have a notebook with me to jot down the places I go and the things I see on a daily basis. From there, I’d expand it to a story or guide on this blog as it served as a reminder of my travel journey. This month, I started jotting again to break the daily routine momentum and while doing this, I realized that everyday ended up differently even though it’s the same path (wake up, go to office, come home). By jotting down the days, it reminds me of the time I went traveling and this, being in Cambodia is still considered a part of that travel journey.
#Trying to sketch for the first time. Routine can make me feel bored so I try to indulge in small hobbies to break that moment. I’ve never been much of an artist when it comes to drawing, sketching or painting which reminds me of how much I disliked art class during school. It’s an irony though that I’ve grown to love and appreciate art but never had the talent to do it myself. Well there’s always a first time. I got out the small purple notebook that Bart got me for my birthday and started sketching the living room. He tried not to laugh and said I should try to outline the drawing instead of sketching it, since it’s my first attempt. I also learned the meaning of perspective and how to draw it out from what I see from my eye angle. The next day I drew the view from my desk and then the motorcycle. It turned out to be quite a good therapy for stress.
#Getting the motorcycle card. Paying for the motorcycle was the first part of owning it. We had to go to the Ministry of Transportation on a weekday to get the registration card belonging to the previous owner before transferring the name to ours. It felt like going back into time as we waited in the office for our turn to collect the card. The reason it took some time is because there’s no digital queue system so everyone that comes in will just place their form in the box for the person at the counter to collect them. They would later go through the dozens of silver casing in search of the name on the card before releasing it to the owner. I guess it’s more efficient this way for them. With the registration card, we had no problems of riding around the city like a local.
#Ramadhan in Phnom Penh for the second time. Well the first day is usually the hardest but lucky for us it fell on a Public Holiday, the Queens birthday in fact so we could relax at home instead of working in the office. Imsak starts at 4:20am and the break of fast takes place when the sun sets around 6:30pm local time. I’ve had to adjust to sleeping early, waking up for sahur and then for work but after a few days, I got used to the routine. It’s been a good fasting month and we’ve even gotten our cloths for baju kurung to be ready before Hari Raya Aidilfitri. The cost to tailor that is way cheaper than back home in Kuala Lumpur.
#Breaking fast with friends in Phnom Penh. This was a nice catch-up session with former colleagues turned friends and we ended up talking about traveling. Our friend Sithorn is going to be a father soon and it’s nice to meet the wife who is glowing with her pregnancy. We had our dinner at Gulai since I had the urge for Malaysian food and it was their first time eating there as well. I miss hanging out with friends back home and even here because I don’t go out much on weekdays. I will of course make more effort to meet them at least once a month after puasa month.
What a bummer and lessons.
#A twisted back and a round of X-Ray. Recently, a friend of ours had a minor stroke during work and made me question the health aspect of my life. Bart recently twisted his back due to picking up the motorcycle to balance it on its’ stand. He couldn’t get up and I was left thinking of solutions from calling an ambulance to getting him in a cab to the hospital. Neither of that happened though because we weren’t sure of the expertise level in bone or nerve problems in this city. When he felt a bit better and able to walk (with a limp), we took him to a medical centre for X-Ray. The doctor ended up giving painkillers and a gel to sooth the pain. We weren’t convinced but had no choice but to wait out the problem and return if it persists.
#A high maintenance investment. When you buy second hand goods, you know that it will come with maintenance costs. This happened to our Super Cub as we had to get it fixed a few times when the tires got punctured (5 different holes in 1 tire) and there were clinking sound coming from the engine. The good thing is that a motorcycle workshop can be found within meters from wherever we are in the city. The fix-up was quick too as most of the people in the city rode motorcycles so the mechanics have ample of experience in diagnosing the problem and solving it.
On working abroad.
#No more probation. I can’t believe it’s already been 3 months plus since I’ve joined the new company. I recently got confirmed which makes me accessible to benefits of annual leave and such. I’ve also sorted out the visa renewal for work purposes which gives me another year here in the city. Phew.
#Sorting out the work permit. I recalled asking my former employer on the work permit to which they dismissed it with “Don’t worry about it” notion. Well as it turns out, the work permit is rather important in Cambodia as it is a book which states your employment record while staying here. I had no idea about this of course until my HR informed me that I had to prepare photos (3cm x 4cm) for the medical check-up. Each foreign worker needs to go to the Ministry of Labor to do a quick check-up where they will measure your weight and height before examining your blood pressure, tonsil and chest. I’ll have to come back to collect the book once it’s ready but after that I’m good to go in working here for the next few years.
Heading back to Kuala Lumpur again for the Hari Raya celebrations in July, and a possible road trip to another province.
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.