Here at last!| May 27, 2011
I'm finally in Cambodia! After months looking forward to it, weeks preparing for it and days traveling to get here (okay, only 2, but they felt long), I've made it. So much time, thought and build-up went into this trip that, on arrival it seemed almost shocking how quickly I was turned loose from the airport. I walked off the plane from Singapore, down a short hallway and gave my passport to a uniformed man behind a desk. He passed my passport to the next official, who handed it on down the line of seven or so people. I handed the last man $25 and he gave me a visa. Two more forms handed off, and I walked out into Phnom Penh.
The first thing you notice about the city id the traffic (the picture was taken before we hit the city traffic - it's nowhere near that empty). The streets are crowded with thousands of people on motorbikes - two, three, even four people on one small bike. The bikes zip in and out of traffic, cutting across medians, running lights and driving against the flow of traffic in chaotic waves. Many intersections have no lights leading to a multi-player game of chicken between opposing traffic flows and hapless pedestrians trying to cross the street. In my first three days here I twice had people take pity on me, stop traffic and lead me across the street after watching several failed attempts at cross. It was embarrassing, but I definitely appreciated it.
I am settling in however and have high hopes that by the end of the summer I will be able to fearlessly dart out into traffic like a Phnom Penh native.