Today was a much needed recuperation day for us undergrads! We’re all so thankful to be back in Phnom Penh, because it’s really started to feel like home.
We began the morning with our familiar breakfast here at the Golden Gate Hotel (lots of mangoes for me!) and then had our daily devotional. We then broke into our individual pairs and prepped some for our teaching day later this week. We have the opportunity to teach some students at the hospitals, so we whipped our power points into shape and went over what we would say and do with our students. We had some free time this afternoon (a rare and beautiful thing) so a couple of us went to a local coffee shop to catch up on neglected school work. The shop we went to felt very much like home: modern, air-conditioned, and with good wifi. It’s cool to think about those shared experiences we have with the students here of going to trendy coffee shops to desperately try to study or write an assignment. It was also a huge relief to feel like I’m caught up with school and not let it distract me from all the amazing things we’re doing here.
For lunch we ate at one of our favorite restaurants! It’s a favorite mostly because they serve amazing western food, including milkshakes. I know I left happy, and it looked like the rest of the table was pleased with their meals too. It’s hard to dine with so many people sometimes because Cambodians just bring out the food whenever it’s done, so by the time the last person gets their food half the table is usually finished. This bothered me a little when we first arrived because it felt rude to not wait for everyone but I think we’ve all learned that if we waited everything would get cold. It’s a small difference between here and the US, but it’s really noticeable with a group of 20 dining at a small establishment.
The afternoon was free for us as well, so a group of us went to the central market! We’ve been to several markets before but I think this one was by far the largest. It was open air, though, and partially indoors in a spacious building, so it didn’t feel as suffocating as the Russian market feels. I proudly walked out without spending a penny, but several of us left with multiple sey, a small toy that you use to play a game similar to hacky sack. It’s our favorite game to play down in the lobby during the evenings, so I expect quite a few of you family members and friends will be introduced to it when we all get home. After the market, a large group decided to make their way back to a coffee shop to work. I, feeling that I had accomplished enough that morning, made the executive decision to take a nap instead. It was very much needed after our long days of travel and temples and clinics.
Dinner was another lovely meal at our most frequent stop, Anise. They have such a good variety, so everyone leaves with something they liked. I know a few of us were feeling a little ill, but the group stayed positive and we had a great dinner regardless. There was plenty of lime soda all around!
To top off a very good day, a few of us played sey before heading off for a massage. This was my first massage experience here in Cambodia, and while it was fun I don’t think I’ll be joining the ranks of the massage enthusiasts. I am far too ticklish to have a stranger touch my feet, but I’m glad I finally experienced what all the hype was about! It was a peaceful way to wind down and de-stress a little on an absolute whirlwind of a trip.