Some of our favourites are the local restaurants. You can buy some great noodles, rice or soup from as little as $1.50 USD (£0.80 GBP). I always eat lunch out on a work day in one of the little restaurants near my office.
Following the first month or six weeks 'honeymoon period' here, we were feeling quite tired and 'beered out'. Everything had been new and exciting and we'd been socialising ALOT! I decided it was time to reign in the partying (a bit), and make a conscious effort to get fit. So in a moment of madness, I signed up for the 16km Temple Run in the Angkor Ultra Trail run at the end of January.
Training for the run here was very hard. A combination of the temperature, dust, and the traffic and road conditions make running here a tough and sometimes dangerous task. Despite this, I managed to fit in a couple of training runs a week and completed the run, raising over $400 for Volunteer Building Cambodia.
I also joined a new gym. It's the same price as the one back home, but it's nice and big, with good equipment and classes, both of which are rarities here. I generally manage to go two or three times a week and am starting to feel much fitter and healthier for it. Andy has been working more hours than me so hasn't had much chance for climbing but I know he wants to start again when he gets in a bit more of a routine.
In our one month update, I mentioned Andy and I had been experiencing some irritability and mood swings with each other. Thankfully that's all blown over now. A combination of keeping each other fed, working separately, making new friends, and doing our own thing on occasion has done wonders.
Meeting new people and making friends here has been relatively easy. There's a great expat community and for the main part, most are approachable, friendly and helpful. The only downside is this is a transient town, so often you'll no sooner have made a new friend than they'll up and leave which is always a shame. Best not to get too attached to or reliant on anyone.
Settling Into Expat Life
We've noticed there seems to be a definite process to settling into expat life here. The first couple of months were very fast paced and everything was a novelty. We found we soon became very tired, partly from too much socialising, but also because when you move somewhere completely new your mind is constantly active. You try to take in and learn everything, as you need to be aware and alert the majority of the time, it's pretty draining.
There's so much to experience, understand and make sense of when you try to immerse yourself in a new culture, especially in a developing country. Initially, there's something different (the good, the bad, and the ugly) to take on board or deal with every day. The local traditions, festivals, and celebrations. The noise, the rubbish in the streets, rubbish being burnt, the different climate and the dust. The mosquitoes, the friendly local people, the temperamental power and water supply, and erratic wifi. The lack of animal welfare, the poverty, the beautiful Cambodian countryside...I could go on and on!
Four months in and everything is becoming more familiar. We're no longer so surprised or taken aback by things. The traffic is just part of life now, the smells (of Asia) that we loved, we no longer notice so much. Everyday things such as shopping and cooking are becoming easier, and we're falling into some semblance of a routine. At the moment we still love the weather - no need for the air-con yet, but with the hot season that could change. The temperature may also impact how we get to work. It could be too hot to bike, meaning we may need to consider getting motos, I'm not keen on this though so we'll have to see.
There have been the occasional pangs of homesickness, but it's only fleeting. It's mostly when we miss things with family and friends at home. Things such as celebrations like Christmas and birthdays, or my youngest nephew starting to walk and talk. We do try to keep in touch via social media, email and the occasional video call, which makes things easier. Having friends visit over at New Year was lovely and we're hoping to have more visitors later in the year too.
Another time we missed home comforts was when we got sick. We both had a nasty cough and cold for a week or two and all we wanted to do was snuggle up on a comfy sofa under a blanket.
Despite the growing familiarity, there's still rarely a dull moment here in this lively town. For those that want it, there's regular live music around the bars in town, along with frequent fundraising events like quizzes, craft fairs, and farmers markets. These are often held to raise money for one of the many NGOs in town.
Cambodians love to party and there's many public holidays and festivals throughout the year. Last month it was Chinese New Year, two weekends ago, whilst eating lunch in a restaurant, a big procession for the Buddist Festival Meak Bochea passed by.