One of the best things about being an expat are the numerous like-minded people you meet upon your journey. A notoriously transient community, each time I return to Phnom Penh I am greeted by a new group of friendly, colourful, interesting people. This week I have been immensely privileged to have met some great new friends, indulging in activities ranging from watching a play on a tennis court to sampling incredible martinis which led to a rendition of Hey Jude in a tiny Japanese karaoke bar!
My social butterflying has primarily been fuelled by two people. My flatmate, Ruth, has introduced me to Lizzie and Hannah, two wonderful girls who have been incredibly welcoming (and can both cook a great dinner!). The four of us are off to the beach town of Sihanoukville in a few weeks for the upcoming Theravada Buddhism festival Pchum Ben, a three day celebration of ancestry unique to Cambodia. Keep an eye out for the inevitable blog update after that trip!
Despite my earlier declaration of the expat community as a transient group, I have been fortunate enough to meet a familiar face here. When I ran into Brian last weekend, we both knew that we had met before in Cambodia but neither of us could remember the specifics. A weekend spent at various social gatherings finally prompted our memories of Brian’s former bar which I frequented a few times back in 2012. Brian and his lovely Khmer wife, Sophorn, have been so warm and welcoming, inviting me to many events this weekend and introducing me to a great group of people which led to further networking. On Saturday afternoon I found myself laughing out loud as I watched a talented expat drama group, the Phnom Penh Players, perform a witty, topical, fast-paced play on the tennis court of the Himawari Hotel, meeting university lecturers and journalists in the process. From there I found myself attending the farewell party of Irish Mark, whom I’d never met but he and his friends were more than welcoming as we sipped dark chocolate and orange, creme brûlée, and espresso martinis. This party led to meeting three lovely Aussies and somehow culminated in singing karaoke … badly! Sunday saw a sociable lunch, and meeting one of the leads in yesterday’s play, in a nearby cafe which serves bottomless iced coffee for $1! This was followed by an impromptu pedicure during which three gals from three different walks of life chatted about genocide, London vs Paris, a William Shakespeare pantomime, and further education.
So I now lie in my bed considering myself very lucky to have spent the past few days surrounded by some truly wonderful people, dreading the 5:45am alarm clock which will drag me from sleep in a few hours time. At least I have the expat dodgeball group to look forward to on Tuesday … oh look, more socialising!