Hello World! This is Gail, the mom, posting from Cambodia.
In my normal life back in Texas, I’m a science education professor at Texas State University. I live in Austin with my dog, Sadie, and commute to San Marcos a couple days a week.
In 2009, I was invited to work on the development of a general science course that would be part of the foundation program for freshman at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. The donor paid for us to visit Cambodia twice in 2010. Once to see if the activities were relevant and practical and once to field test it with Cambodian students. Becks went with me both times (but that’s another post).
I loved the people and culture here so I’ve been back nearly every summer. In September 2015, I came for a year on a Fulbright grant but my university won’t let me stay away for more than 1 year so I had to go back. I’m back now for another year here.
Leaving home for a year isn’t easy. Last time, I left my dog and house in the care of my oldest son and his friend. It was OK but I can’t afford to do that again. So this time I packed up my house, moved everything to storage, sent my dog to live with a friend, and hired a property manager to rent my house. Unfortunately, I also decided to renovate the kitchen and take a trip to Greece at the same time – not a good idea so it was really stressful before I left.
I’ve now been here a week so almost over jet lag. I’m living in my friend’s 2 bedroom flat in Boeung Keng Kang 1 (BKK 1). Phnom Penh is divided into districts (neighborhoods) and BKK 1 is very international. It’s a good spot for an expat without a car because you can walk to most stores. In fact, our flat is above a restaurant called The Shoppe and just next door is The Chocolate Shoppe.
Driving in Phnom Penh is a bit crazy as traffic is heavy and many Cambodians don’t follow traffic laws. Driving the on the wrong side of the street and running red lights is very common. I’ve decided to see if I can get around on my bike and the city bus.
The bus is new (only 3 years old) and there are only 3 routes for a city the size of San Antonio, Texas. So far, the bus has been relatively on time. The longest I’ve had to wait in 10 minutes. It’s also remarkably fast – 30 minute ride time from my house to work. And, it’s cheap – about $0.38 per ride. Oh, and it’s also air conditioned.