The second week of work entailed researching intercountry adoptions, oil and natural gas regulations, and the emerging telecommunications industry in Cambodia. Vlada and I were finally able to place a face with our intercountry adoption project when we were able to sit in on a client meeting. We are currently preparing for court, which we should be going to in the next few weeks. Being able to see the real life application of our work and the impact that our work is having on their lives was extremely rewarding. Perhaps the most interesting part of the meeting, however, was watching the clients sign documents. Here in Cambodia, these documents aren’t signed. Instead people put their thumbprints in red ink where a signature would ordinarily have gone.
Aside from work, our firm has also grown extremely close. We go out to eat with a great group of local lawyers. They order traditional foods and we try things that we never imagined we would try. After lunch, we go to “Cambodian Starbucks.” We have finally figured out how to make Thai Iced Tea, which was become our beverage of choice. On Tuesdays, we have a group from work that goes to trivia night at The Gym Bar. We haven’t won one yet, but we are well on our way!
I’ve been spending my off time going to various social events and meeting many great people along the way. Although Phnom Pehn is a large city, the community is very small. I’m amazed at the number of people I know and run into while out. The MetaHouse, the local German cultural association, shows great documentaries (for free no less!). On Thursday, I saw one about Benazir Bhutto. I made friends with a couple from Pakistan that evening and they were able to give me some of their opinions and perspectives on the former Prime Minister.
This past weekend, we (Ena, Vlada, and I) went to Siem Reap to visit the Angkors. Siem Reap is by far one of my favorite places in the world. In the afternoon, we did some damage at the local market (I’ve gotten much better at bargaining), visited a temple in the city, and then checked out a crocodile farm. We hiked up a temple to watch the sunset on Saturday night. Afterwards, we went to see an Aspara dance and finished the night on the town dancing until the wee hours of the morning. After only 2 hours of sleep, we woke up to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. We had a personal tour guide for the whole day and were able to see many of the breathtaking temples such as Angkor Thom. Apparently, my name reminded our tour guide of the God Indra. Indra is the King of Hindu Gods. He rides a three headed elephant and controls the rain. Although he is generally a nice God, he tries to rid the world of people with immense rains when he is angry. I wonder if I should take a hint from that. Exhausted from the day of hiking, we got a “fish massage” (where fish eat the dead skin off of your feet which are soaking in a fish tank), had some lunch (for $1), and then rode the bus back home. I loved the bus home because I got to have a sneak peak into how life goes on in the rural areas. Absolutely breathtaking! Despite some of the hardships, Cambodia is truly a beautiful country!