For the next 10 weeks, I will be writing about my experience in Phnom Penh as an intern for East-West Management and Open Development Cambodia. I was lucky enough to visit the country on a study abroad trip in 2010, but four years later I know I still have much to learn and experience in what has been called the "Pearl of Asia."
I arrived this past Saturday and, upon exiting the airport, I was greeted by extreme heat and a swarm of taxis and 'tuk-tuks' (tricycles used for public transport). My fellow law intern, Liz, and I were famished after our nearly 20 hours of travel so we decided to eat as soon as we arrived at our guesthouse. Always willing to try new foods, I ordered 'amok' which is a popular fish or chicken dish basted with coconut and curry. After one bite, I found a new guilty pleasure for the next two months.
I visited the Royal Palace the next day and was astounded by the array of Khmer, Thai, and colonial French architecture throughout the grounds-a testament to the various cultures that played a part in the country's storied history. Built in the mid-19th century, the Royal Palace symbolized the relocation of Cambodia's capital city from Oudong to Phnom Penh. Another magnificent sight was the Silver Pagoda, which housed many national treasures of emerald and gold Buddha statues.
The National Museum and Wat Phnom were other highlights of my first few days in the city and they helped me gain a better appreciation of the country's beautiful, and at times painful, past and how it continues to affect Cambodians today. As I prepare for my first day of work, I am excited to learn about my duties and responsibilities.
I want to thank Atif Choudhury, who worked at EWMI-ODC last year, for all his support and pre-departure advice. I would also like to thank Professor Christie Warren and all the donors to William & Mary Law School who made this opportunity possible for me and who are allowing me to further my interests in international law and human rights issues. Thank you! Aw koon ch'ran!