By: Lizzy Schuster and UO Family and Human Services Cambodia Group
The UO group traveled from snowy Eugene to Cambodia on December 6th. Kevin was snowed in and had to fly the next day. On the first day, the group had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant and visited Wat Phnom while we adjusted to the climate and culture. The students share their first impressions with you:
Once through passport control, we were warmly welcomed into Phnom Penh. Although the cab drivers do not always know exactly where to go, they ask around until they figure out where to take you. One thing we were surprised about was how many people were still driving around at 11:00 PM. We learned that, since it’s so hot during the day, many locals enjoy waking up early or staying up late in order to avoid the heat. In Cambodia, even though cars are not uncommon, motor bikes and tuk-tuks (motorbike-drawn carriages) are the main modes of transportation.
Another important thing we noticed in regards to the populated street areas was the lack of attention to traffic lights. Although cars almost always followed the traffic rules, tuk-tuk drivers and motorbikes sped through intersections and even rode on sidewalks in order to reach their destinations faster. If you’re walking around Cambodia, one thing to keep in mind is the lack of sidewalks and the need to take the initiative when trying to cross streets.
When we arrived at the hotel, some of us didn’t know if we were in the right place or not. From the street, you would never know such a beautiful hotel existed here. Suddenly, the gates opened, and we were let in by the hotel staff. The main area smells of the plumeria flower, also native to Hawaii. The hotel, Frangipani Villa-90’s, earns its name from the many frangipani trees that grow in the courtyard, all of which produce the plumeria flower.
The hotel is beautiful; the rooms are clean; the staff is wonderful; and the breakfast is excellent. Several members of the group enjoyed the different options for breakfast. They severed rice and noodles, as well as American dishes. The only downside is the unpredictability of the water in the showers; sometimes it’s not warm, and sometimes it doesn’t come on at all! Hotel staff is very helpful in addressing these issues as they come up.