Sunday, January 27, 2008

The First 48

blog post #1
jan 26, 10:45 am

...the first 48 - 72 hours in a new country are a special time: you're senses are heightened and dulled simultaneously - you're jet lagged and weary from all the travel, but you also have a very special vision to notice all the peculiarities of a new place that become commonplace within the first week.

Naomi and I landed at 10 am and were greeted by the IJM diretor at the airport. We then made our way to our guesthouse, which like most guesthouses (it seems), has a clean and small room, and smelled like brut aftershave. After unloading our bags, we headed over to the FCC (Foreign Correspondents Club) for lunch (I don't reccomend their Fish Amok - It was very bland), and then to the IJM office to make some introductions.

Everyone we've met so far has been really kind, and we're looking forward to our first visit to a Khmer church tomorrow. The whole move is still pretty overwhelming. I'm definitely still jet lagged. My thoughts keep bouncing between "I can't wait to get started, this year is going to be awesome" and "what am I doing here, all these foreigners trying to 'help out' aren't helping at all". I know that they are both valid thoughts, and I trust that God really does have some awesome work for us in store.

During lunch, the Director was able to tell us some amazing stories of some recent IJM cases. I can't share any details here, but WOW! They are really on the front lines of a hugely important fight! Naomi's really excited, and after hearing these stories, It reminds me of what I've said before: If I just spend this year supporting her, it will be a year well spent. I don't plan on this, but being an engineer, this is a pretty comforting "worst case scenario" for me.

As far as work goes, we walked past a huge drainage/water supply project on the way back from breakfast this morning, and we both concluded that a civil engineering position for a job like that for me would "kick a lot of butt". We've also come across several ads looking for teachers, and this remains a strong possibility as well. BUT, as it's been less than 24 hours, I'm not going to start worrying about that yet.

The word "worry" reminds me of another thing I was worried about - my visa to stay here. At the airport I asked for a business visa and $25 later (the official fee) it was mine. I asked about extending, and the guy said it would be $280 for a year. I didn't get my extension yet (on the hope that my employer might cover the cost), but again, $280 is a pretty manageable worst case scenario. Another pre-trip worry that was completely in vain.

More thoughts... First Day top 9
  1. There are motorbikes EVERYWHERE!
  2. I'm seriously tempted to get one... but no plans on that yet.
  3. It's nice that we arrived in January - the weather is about as nice as it ever gets at 80 degrees and not super humid
  4. The Khmer day follows sunlight much closer than in the states - people are out by 5:30am and the streets are dead by 9pm. Of course, teenagers and tourists are excepted from this rule.
  5. We miss Monkey, our dog, and pore over each update from my mom.
  6. I remembered today what I learned back in September (during our recon visit): Cambodian street food generaly sucks. It's particularly sad because of how awesome Thai street food is (Noodle plates, street meat, banana pancakes, iced coffee, etc), but we both agree that maybe we'll gain less weight living here, where so far, the best tasting thing I've bought from a street vendor was a fried tarantula. The street food here is so epically bad, that I think I'll do a complete blog post on this in the future. I think the problem is that Khmer folks are too poor to buy tasty food (with good ingredients) on the street. And anybody with any money is too "dignified" to eat from street vendors. Hopefully in 12 monts I'll be looking back at this narrow-minded disparagement and have loads of great things to say about street food... but I doubt it.
  7. I can't imagine a smoother transition from country to country. We've had a really smooth transition so far, for which I am very thankful.
  8. People ride on top of trucks, busses, etc here. It's completely nuts - dudes will be like 15 feet off the street just chillin on a giant load of charcoal or rice.
  9. I wonder what it's going to do to my kidneys now that my water loss to urine/sweat breakup will go from 90%/10% to more like 40%/50%.

1st floor balcony of Bright Lotus Guest House #1
Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

1 comment:

Jonathan Ichikawa said...

I'm glad you made it safe, Josh. It sounds very exciting! Thanks for the updates; I'll look forward to reading further.