The main Post Office in Phnom Penh
Today was another amazing day of progress getting a post office box for our Ratanak office and finally having an address that can be officially used for our operations here. If I seem so excited and enthusiastic about such simple little activities its only because one learns to appreciate small accomplishments when you are like a fish out of water. Living in a new place, learning a new language, discovering a new culture, figuring out the basic functions of how to do work and operate here is an ongoing educational process. Living with uncertainty is a norm but with each baby step, there is a sense of 'normality'.
So my young tutor Chheut acccompanied me to the post office as part of my back up.We were like a matching team wearing our turquoise blue shirts but his plan was to just listen to me ask my questions in Khmer and if I faltered he would jump in.We got to the main post office which is about 15 minutes from my home and followed the signs down a corridor to the counter where we could obtain our mailbox. I asked my questions in Khmer and the staff person responded in English. In fact, any thing I asked in Khmer, she responded in English so I had to laugh. So much for trying to practice the language. Either I was destroying the language and she just wanted to put me out of my misery or maybe she just wanted to practice her English. Nonetheless, the process of getting a mail box was actually painless. Thank you God! I had brought a couple pieces of official documentation that I told would be needed but I was never asked to show them. All I had to do was fill out 3 identical forms and pay the annual fee of $13.00 and in 20 minutes I was provided keys to our post office box although it was not available for me to see today. A new lock for the P.O box has to be made and so I will have to return tomorrow to try out the mail box with my new keys. So like everything else, another trip is required but at least its only 2 trips!
Now of course one would think that now we have a P.O Box that you can mail anything you want to us. Not so! The postal service is not very consistent over here. I heard a story a few weeks ago that someone had sent a care package in the mail for their friends. The package arrived 8 months later despite the fact it was suppose to be a Christmas gift for the previous year. The question though was whether all the contents were still in the package. We're not sure but there is no guarantees. From what I am told, its okay to send regular letters or statements but beyond that, there is a high probability that any package from overseas may not arrive or if it does, it may not contain the items that were shipped. Things seem to disappear when in transit! So the moral of this story, don't send anything valuable! It may not arrive! But on the positive side, at least we've got a mail box!