Monday, January 19, 2015

The SSEAYP Diaries: Cambodia, Phnom Penh

It was the first time Nippon Maru (the ship I was spending most of my life on), docked in Cambodia last year. With that being said, preparations for the big day amazed all of us. Performances catered specially to each country’s main theme welcomed us as the ship docked in Cambodia that morning. With no shelter, and under the sweltering heat, our respective countries’ flags were marched out and we watched on.

The itinerary began with a visit to the beach. Sounded inviting, at least until I realized we stood under the sun for hours so that a drone could capture a picture of us from the top. That being said, the beach would have been gorgeous to just sit and do nothing at. Clear, blue waters coupled with smooth powder white sand. Tempting, tempting.

All of us wore different coloured shirts in the different shades of the rainbow according to our solidarity groups. What the idea was, the drone was to capture a rainbow from the top. No, really.

At that point we had all resigned to shades, towels and umbrellas.

When they finally took the shot, we all headed for some team bonding activities with the locals. It ended up being more of team bonding within solidarity groups. And the field was a hazardous zone, seriously. I think I fell into a hole more than twice just by walking five steps in front.

My inner camp instructor was screaming.

On top of that, instructions weren’t clear because the organizers were yelling into the microphones, and with everyone yelling at the same time, well, chaos.

Games didn’t last very long, and we were soon back to the ship for a quick shower and into our cultural outfits for the welcome dinner.

Had the fastest food reception ever - no warning. Was just about to grab dessert and they were like "5 minutes to contingent photo taking" and I'm like what. I literally stopped in my tracks with the dessert plates. 

Oh and photo-taking meant standing on chairs; in heels. The countless times I wish I was a tall guy instead....

Back to the ship to pack for the next day's programs - homestay as well as courtesy call to the Cambodian Prime Minister.

It's a long 3 hours journey from the ship to Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia. Throughout that journey I saw how the scenery changed; the closer we got to the main city area, the endless fields of green dotted with silhouettes of large cows and animals disappeared. Blue skies were soon hidden behind the identical three story square houses scattered all over the place. 

Another reception awaited us in the city. That was an even quicker one; so much so, I was almost left behind in the toilet because again, no warning.

Headed for the courtesy call, and that was a long 3 hours of conversation "translation" in my ears. Yep, we had to put on the headphones and listen to a translator attempt to translate Khmer live. Oh, all that and maintaining a smile and not fall asleep because there was press everywhere.

After the long three hours, we finally proceeded for our Homestay matching.

Of course, I'll leave the homestay adventures for another post!

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