That’s right. Aaron and I are moving to Cambodia! More specifically, we are moving to the country’s up-and-coming capital city, Phnom Penh. I am so beyond excited about our next move, so much so that I sometimes have to pinch myself because I can’t believe it’s actually happening.
Cambodia happens to be one of my favorite Southeast Asian countries. It has it all, from one of Southeast Asia’s best beaches to the ancient temples of Angkor to a happening capital city. Cambodia is indeed a wonderful place to be.
If you’ll remember, Aaron and I traveled to Cambodia for a quick trip back in January. We spent 10 blissful days beach hopping on Koh Rong and sightseeing in Phnom Penh. At the time, we were completely unsure about what we were going to do after we left Jakarta (Aaron’s teaching contract was set to end in July). It seemed like our only option would be to return to the U.S., but secretly I think both of us were hoping that we’d be able to stay abroad.
During that trip to Cambodia we had zero idea that moving to Phnom Penh was even a possibility. But looking back on a post I wrote about my love affair with Cambodia the fact that this is happening is actually kind of surreal. What I wished for actually came true…that never happens!
In that post I go on and on about how, for the past eight years, both Aaron and I have daydreamed about living in Phnom Penh.
During our recent trip we had so many discussions of what it would be like if we were to live there. We would live in one of the city’s narrow, Chinese shop houses. He would teach at one of the universities while I would write for one of the city’s English language newspapers. We would spend our evenings walking along the river, getting drinks at a hip rooftop bar or getting our culture fix at a local art exhibition. And maybe, maybe we would finally buy a cat or two. Life in Phnom Penh would be good.
I was so intoxicated by the city and the thought of living in it that I wrote this:
“We’re still dreaming up all sorts of plans to make living here a reality…Perhaps we’ll never have the chance to live here, but if the opportunity ever presents itself, we will take it in a heartbeat.”
And that’s exactly what we did.
A few weeks after I wrote that, Aaron came across a job listing at a university in Phnom Penh. He had no idea what would come of it, but he applied instantly. As often happens in academia, we heard nothing for some time and assumed that the application would never be looked at or responded to.
Then a couple of months ago, Aaron was asked to interview for the position. A month later, he received a formal offer. And that was that!
In a little less than two months we’ll say goodbye to Jakarta, a city that has only recently managed to worm its way into my heart. Even still, my relationship with Jakarta is of the love-hate variety. I’ve said this so many times, but Jakarta is a tough city to get to know and an even tougher one to love. I feel confident that if I were to be based here permanently I could learn to love it the way so many other expats seem to.
It is weird to say goodbye so soon, but I feel like I’m ready to move on.
Living in Jakarta has been an eye opening, life changing and unforgettable experience. But I feel confident that both Aaron and I will be happier and fit better in Phnom Penh. The truth is…Phnom Penh is just more our flavor.
I wrote a whole post, gushing about the many things I love about Phnom Penh. But to sum it up, the city has a pretty amazing mix of expats and Cambodians. There is no shortage of forward thinking artists, entrepreneurs, teachers and NGO workers. Its architecture – with Khmer temples and French villas – and its riverside setting makes it an incredibly picturesque city. And the Cambodian people are some of the friendliest I’ve met in all of my travels. The city also seems to be booming right now, with trendy new restaurants and bars opening up every week. If you ask me, Phnom Penh is an exciting place to be right now.
I’m under no illusions that everything will be perfect there. The country has suffered an unfathomable history and the city itself is still incredibly rough around the edges. And, of course, adjusting to a new culture and foreign city will inevitably have its challenges.
Aaron will be starting a new job, and starting a new job is always somewhat stressful. As for me, I’ll be trying my best to make it as a freelance writer, which ended up working out fairly well for me here in Jakarta. I love what I do but let’s face it, it’s not the easiest way to make a living. I also plan to take this blog to the next level. Now that I know I’ll be abroad for the foreseeable future, I’m definitely taking things more seriously this time around. I still have a lot to learn, both about blogging and freelancing and I have a long way to go. It’ll be a challenge but I’m excited to see what the future brings.
Despite any challenges, Aaron and I are so ready for this new adventure…and it will be an adventure! We are both thrilled to be able to stay in Southeast Asia, a region that we have spent the majority of the past two years in. This place seems to have a firm hold on us.
In terms of travel, there are still so many places that we want to visit in Asia. Obviously, I have big plans to explore as much of Cambodia as humanly possible. Given that Thailand is right next door, I’m sure I’ll be visiting at least a few times. I’d really like to go to this year’s Yi Ping festival. I’ve been obsessed with the idea ever since I read this post by Alex over at Alex in Wanderland. Aaron and I are also pretty hooked on the idea of visiting countries like Myanmar, India and Sri Lanka.
If you haven’t noticed by now, our plans always change. So who knows where the next year will actually take us, but we are so happy to be based in Asia for another year so we can explore more of this quirky and amazing continent.
This summer we’ll be hopping from Indonesia to the Philippines to the U.S. And in August we will fly from our home state of California to Phnom Penh to start the next chapter of our crazy expat journey. I honestly still can’t believe this is my life…
As always, I’ll be writing about all of my adventures and inevitable freak outs right here. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!