Experiencing the Expat Life in Phnom Penh

One of my favorite parts of our US road trip was visiting friends and family. At each and every stop, we got a real look into their homes, lives, friends, and local favorites. It should be no surprise that we’ve really, really enjoyed hanging out in Phnom Penh with our friends Jenny and Mike. Not only have they welcomed us into their day to day experience, but they introduced us to a new set of friends, mostly from Crossfit Amatak, who were just as welcoming.

Phnom Penh is an expat city, rather than a tourist city like Siem Reap. I’ve never noticed that distinction before. Cambodia receives more aid per capita than any other country in the world. Most of that must end up in Phnom Penh because the city is full of expats who work for various embassies, global organizations like the UN and WHO, various smaller NGOs or religious groups, and then the people who provide all the day to day luxuries like gyms and restaurants. For us, that meant neighborhoods like the Russian Market, where we stayed, sometimes felt like it would be an up and coming neighborhood in a US city. Inside this “bubble” we went to lots of English-speaking restaurants, coffee shops, and bars that were mostly frequented by westerners. Even in just a few weeks, we started running into people we knew from the gym.

So in addition to all the usual standard sightseeing…

Standard sightseeing by bike at the Royal Palace
PhnomPenh_WatPhnom
More typical things: A temple at Wat Phnom, the oldest temple in the city

 

We had a lot of weird and wacky experiences with Jenny, Mike, and their friends:

Here we are at a store, probably designed for kids, where you rent legos by the hour and assemble them. It was incredibly relaxing. That poor guy in the background is in charge of taking them apart, too!
Here we are at a store, probably designed for kids, where you rent legos by the hour and assemble them. It was incredibly relaxing. That poor guy in the background is in charge of taking them apart, too!
We occasionally enjoyed a cold beverage in our tuk tuks.
We occasionally enjoyed a cold beverage in our tuk tuks.
PhnomPenh_CambodiaOctoberfest
Cambodian Octoberfest was a thing to behold. Here we are enjoying litres of Angkor beer with Jenny, Mike and lots of their awesome friends from CrossFit Amatak in Phnom Penh.

And then of course, we had the chance to work out a few times and learn a few new olympic lifts. Here’s Adam learning the clean and jerk with his long, luxurious locks flying everywhere.

CleanJerkAmatak
Pro tip: Clicking the GIF will open it in a new window where you can watch it over and over again. Oh I see, I’m the only one doing that.

For any of you concerned with how a vegan diet and ten days of nearly complete inactivity impacts strength, I am pleased to say that the answer for us was “not too much.” I think this is because we’re already pretty out of shape, strength-wise. We’ve come so far down we’re not losing anymore. I hope to write a post sometime in the future about how we settled down for a few months and got it all back…

Anyway, all and all, Phnom Penh has been a wonderful and restful stop for us on our trip. We’ve had a chance to be a part of the expat community and recover from our meditation retreat with conversation, meat, cocktails, and workouts. Another small thing I have really appreciated is that I can drink tap water here, saving the waste and expense of purchasing bottled water every day. I can’t say this would be the best stop for tourists, but it’s been a perfect stop for us!

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