Cambodia. I'm stuck trying to figure out words for this place. It's lovely. The sky has been a pillowy gray so far since it's the start of the monsoon season. I was warned of torrential downpours but haven't seen any yet. I did see an elephant though. I was surprised because I was actually looking out for monkeys in a park, but then, bam. Elephant.
We got here late Thursday night and tried to dock at the orphanage where we're staying, but everyone was already asleep so we stayed at a little place called Golden Gate Hotel. It was one of the nicest little hotel rooms I've stayed in for less than $20. If you come visit us, you might want to stay here.
We hopped out of bed at 6 AM, mostly because Adam came banging on our door to see if we were awake, but that's the general time to wake up in these parts. It feels good to wake up without alarms and you're up with the sun. We loaded up all the equipment and luggage and set out in search of breakfast. Our friend Peakadae [sounds like Pe-ack-a-day. Haven't seen him smoke yet] drove us to this faaaaancy little place where we were seated under large canvas umbrellas, which were set up to protect us from all of the gently falling jasmine flowers. The restaurant was really elegant like that. We ate nom min chok [I think] which is a pile of rice with thin cuts of seasoned pork, and some herbs on the side. Probably some limes too. For dessert, they brought out a plate of fruit: papaya, pineapple, dragon fruit, watermelon, and a flower. Very pretty.
Then to the orphanage! We got there and rang the bell at the gate and had a cloud of excited kids run let us in and greet us. They are all so great. So so great. Adorable, sharp, disciplined, silly, hilarious, and confident. Many hugs and arms and faces smashed into us. Many of the kids were at school, so this was just a small clutch of them. We got all of our stuff put into our rooms and had fun meeting all the kids. Throughout the day, another wave of them would come home, wearing their little school uniforms. Everyone greets each other with "Chhom riep souh" and hands pressed together. Most of the kids speak cute little snippets of English when they meet you, and my favorite thing to hear is "fine, thank you" They're all very polite, and affectionate! Adorable. When the girls got home from school, they all pulled in close around me, and inspected my manicure, asked me all sorts of questions in english and khmer. They scurried off to their next class [they have a very structured schedule around here, and all the kids are obedient] and we went to run some errands.
We set out for central Phnom Penh to pick up odds and ends, get some money, and get all our ducks in a row. This included getting SIM cards, shampoo, checking out transportation options, setting up a bank account, and other little things. We got lunch at Boat Noodle [there are two Boat Noodles in the city, and they're competitors. They each have a sign in their restaurant claiming that they're the original, and better of the two. We went to the Boat Noodle that is actually the better one.] It was delicious and we got way too much food.
More later. Everyone is starting to wake up. xoxo