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I say research, Cambodians say improvisation

Getting to grips with Cambodian meaning of 'preparation'

sunny 34 °C

Having completed two days of 'induction', Wednesday was supposed to be first of three days allocated to my microfinance innovation research. The start of my volunteering has been postponed until Tuesday next week (Monday is a bank holiday here) to allow me to follow up on some of the leads to be gained from my volunteering support organisation. That was the plan.

Despite initial doubts about leaving all contact with MFIs (Microfinance Institutions) until I got to Phnom Penh, I was reassured that the volunteering guys cooperate with many of them and everyone will be happy to give me their time to conduct interviews. Unfortunately but not entirely surprisingly, the reality hit me at 2pm when I turned up for a meeting at the office.
Busy street 125 outside the Tattoo Guest house

Busy street 125 outside the Tattoo Guest house

'Loads of MFIs' turned to be 3 and as one of them is unsuitable and for one of them I will be working, I was left with 1 MFI to be interviewed in three days. The recommendation? Email the Cambodian Microfinance Association asking for assistance with facilitating contact to other MFIs. Then go on the net and email a number of MFIs asking for interviews. Great. Never mind that I proposed to do exactly this when I was still at home, to avoid wasting time whilst here.

Either way, recognising defeat when I see one, I did exactly that. My first steps led to the guest house where I composed a very impressive email, if I may say so myself, pestering MFIs for their time. The only dumper on my dedication was the fact that it is precisely these emails that most often meet the 'delete' button when I receive them back home. Lets hope that Cambodians are bit more responsive.
My tuk tuk driver with his little princess

My tuk tuk driver with his little princess

To get over my disappointment, I decided to celebrate the evening by attending my first class of yoga. After chatting to all the other volunteers who just had their first day at various projects around Phnom Penh (with mixed impressions), I convinced one of the girls to hit the yoga studio with me. A short tuk-tuk ride later, I was sweating my socks off at a roof terrace, trying to execute various yoga movements whilst preventing my legs from shaking uncontrollably whenever I tried to stretch them to an uncomfortable position. But when it was all over, I felt great. So much so that I decided to make this a habit.

Knowing that I am unlikely to get any positive responses on my 2nd research day, I decided to explore the town, before emailing few more MFIs and checking-in with the office to see if they have any nice surprises for me. If there is one thing no-one in Cambodia does (unless they really cannot help it) it must be walking. It thus doesn't come as a great surprise that in the two hours of slowly making my way towards the riverside through progressively wealthy-looking hoods, I was continuously asked if i need a tuk-tuk.

Having said that, 'tuk tuk?' is indisputably the most common English phrase Cambodians use. Note to self: support local economy by purchasing a 'no tuk tuk' t-shirt from a market.
Communal area at the Tattoo guest house

Communal area at the Tattoo guest house

The riverside, in comparison to the Olympic stadium area is rather touristy and decisively more commercial. Refusing to be labeled as a wealthy tourist, I headed for the back streets where I knew should be a massage spot manned by blind people, called Seeing Hands. What a bliss. Knackered after barrage of tuk tuk attacks and long walk in the scorching sun, I got myself the best and yet cheapest Khmer/Thai massage I have ever head. The proceeds go to a blind persons charity and despite the basic surroundings, this is worthwhile stop when in Phnom Penh.

Rejuvenated I decided to find a local caffee for the very delicious version of Cambodian ice coffee. Causing a riot by ordering in Khmer, I settled in for a little read and people watching. Judging by the number of middle-old aged men with perky little Cambodian ladies on their arms, sightseeings are not the only attraction in this vicinity.

Walking back to the guest house through yet another route, I am now fairly familiar with the layout of Phnom Penh. This should come handy over the next months living here and when I am trying to locate MFIs headquarters for my research interviews. One can always hope...
3 years old but already knows how to pose for the camera

3 years old but already knows how to pose for the camera

I am pleased to say, that my initial concerns about the standoffishness of some of the fellow guest house peeps are only partially justified. Whilst some mainly US guests make exceptional effort to ooze bitchiness (sorry you lovely Americans out there, just saying...), there is plenty of other people which are great fun. So much so that I was once again accompanied in my quest to maintain some kind of a sporty regime, this time by a lovely Scottish girl living in Australia. Mission Pilates.

After two hours at the yoga/ Pilates studio, I decided to get a 10 visit pass. Bring it on!

And there was one more development - I have Friday interview with my first MFI. There is hope.

Posted by TheDukes 01:34 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia phnom_penh massage

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When do you hang a Czech flag in the communal area ;-)

by TheDukes

There is one already. You just can't see it :). It looks funny when you use the same logon as me .... :)

by TheDukes

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