Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Finally... Home!

Well, after much searching and viewing several places we could be okay with calling home, our realtor took us to THE ONE. Yes, you use a realtor here for rentals. That's because they have no online system to search for things. We actually used more than one realtor because different agents know about different places and you have to call a few to find the right place.

So we saw a bunch. We saw houses, townhouses, apartments on the second floor of Khmer family houses, apartments in big buildings, and more. Here are some funny/interesting things we learned while exploring the many "homes" in Phnom Penh.

*The floor you walk into from the street is the Ground Floor.
The floor just above it, at the top of the stairs is the 1st floor. Always.

*Some elevators don't have a number 4 - heard many reasons for this... all superstitious.

*An oven is a luxury item.
*A freezer is a luxury item.
*A shower or bathtub is NOT standard. A hose next to the toilet IS. That's different. And a hose is NOT an acceptable shower to me!

*Every bedroom we saw had one bed. A large bed but one bed. Having 2 beds is also rare. The one we chose was the first we saw that had 2 beds for the kids.

*Washing machines are hard to find in apartments. But living here for a few weeks I've noticed that a laundry SERVICE is preferred (to me anyway). See, it's so humid that when you hang your clothes out to dry they never fully dry so you have to iron everything to get the rest of the moisture out. Yep, EVERYthing. Underwear, socks, all of it. Not so fun. So, it's nice to have a washing machine, but apartments with laundry service are even better. Let them do the ironing!

*Another fun fact... almost every apartment in a building or complex (as opposed to above some family's house) has a cleaning service either included or rather inexpensive (like less than $20 a month). Labor is the cheapest thing here.

*Streets here are numbered, with even running west to east and odd north to south. Houses on those streets are also numbered. However... the house numbers are not always in order. It's normal to see house 14, then 15, then 19, then 19 A, then 16, then 16B, then 20. Very strange. And quite annoying when you are looking for some place!

*The most important thing we learned searching for a place to live was this... EVERYTHING is negotiable. Everything. Absolutely everything. Even if it says it isn't, it is. So we got a great deal. I thank Stephen for that :)

Here's what we got:

A room with a great view (sorry the only photos I have so far were taken at night...)

and the inside:

I have to admit I feel a little guilty. It is not at all like anything else we saw the whole time. We could probably close the door, hang up a USA flag, and forget where we are. But I won't let that happen. I'll be homeschooling our oldest in the fall. We need to be happy with where we live. It's ok if it's completely Western! We love it. The complex is clearly designed for families and we hope to meet some others soon.

Oh, and I've mentioned before that the original budget given to us by IJM was just not acceptable for the areas the kids and I felt safe and secure in, so we had to go over a bit, but by moving some things around in the budget and because of some extra surprise donations we recently received, we are still well within our means! God is so good. Remember when I posted that reminder about that? Oh, He keeps reminding me! He is here with us. And when we sleep in our apartment for the first time tomorrow night, He'll be there with us, too.

Thanks for the prayers. It's great to finally have a "home!"

Oh, and about the feeling guilty about not "experiencing" Cambodia with my apartment... It's ok, I'm not really. Not at all. Because as soon as I walk out the door of the apartment complex there are children collecting trash on the streets trying to find something they can sell for a little money. These are the little ones that could so easily end up in a brothel or some other bad place. And they are everywhere. A daily, ever-present reminder of why we are here.

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