As a foreigner, getting used to life in Phnom Penh took some time. It is a sprawling, chaotic city with over 2 million people. I was timid during the first few days after my arrival. Trying to navigate my way through the swirling sea of tuk-tuks and motorbikes within the city made me wonder if I would ever be able to reach my destination. Walks that were supposed to take ten minutes on Google Maps would take much longer as I waited for traffic to slow down or open up just to cross the street. In those moments, I realized how out of my element I was and how much I relied on the infrastructure that I took for granted back home.
Despite my own hesitancy, exploring and getting to know the city in my first few weeks has been one of the most exciting periods in my life. Walking through the streets of Phnom Penh, you are met with shops, restaurants, and street vendors spilling out onto the street. As you wander through the streets, you can't help but see, hear, and smell everything on offer, whether it's a street vendor selling a variety of steamed snails or a noisy motorbike repair store displaying shiny pistons and valves. Coming from the cold, grey streets of England, I have felt an immense sense of joy soaking in both the warmth and the vibrant colors of Phnom Penh. Every street has brought something new, and the hesitancy I felt in my first few days has quickly been replaced with a real sense of excitement in immersing myself in the chaos that is Phnom Penh.