When you move into a new townhouse, you quickly need the essentials. If I moved into a new place in LA, I would just bring everything from my last place in a moving truck. With limited space (and weight!) in the two suitcases and one carryon I brought on this adventure, I put all my house essentials in storage before I left LA, so we’re starting from scratch. In California, no brainer – I’d head to Target, BB+B or a department store. In Cambodia? Ummmm… where do I go?! They do have a department store, but we didn’t want to invest a ton for household items at the moment, and I moved abroad to experience a new culture, so I didn’t want to default to the more Western option (at first).
Enter: Orussey Market. We were introduced to this by another expat who we met on an expat Facebook group (another post on that soon!). This is the biggest (indoor) market and commercial center for Cambodians in Phnom Penh. You can find any and everything here. What an experience! Narrow aisles are packed to the brim with little shops over flowing with pots and pans, plates, dried fish, sausages, house essentials, clothes, trinkets and everything one could ever need. And today we only covered one of three floors!
We learned it’s all about haggling here. Stay calm; don’t be in a rush; pick multiple things from the same shop and ask for the price on all of them instead of individual items; and if you don’t get the price you want, move on as there is someone else around the corner selling the same things for less. Some shop keepers see a white face and instantly mark things up, so foreign buyers beware. It’s all part of the game. This was very foreign to me (no pun intended) for household basics, so Andreas took the lead (he was a pro!) and I took notes. It was fun to watch and I’m excited to go alone next time and try it myself.
I’m working on learning some basics in Khmer (Cambodia’s language), which will hopefully help me get better prices/haggle. Think I’ll get farther asking, “How much?” in Khmer vs. English.
Would I go here every week? Probably not. It was overwhelming and you have to be in the mood for this type of environment. But for essentials when living abroad, when I’m not going to bring any of these things back to the US, this place will do. We scored some nice, reasonably priced things that get the job done. And look nice!
We have motorbikes here (weeee!!!!), not cars. So how do we schlep all this home?! No trunk to throw it all in. Yet another adventure! Hung a few bags on a hook right where my feet go, hopped on, slid my feet under the bags and away we went. This was a tiny load compared to what I’ve seen some Cambodians carry on their bikes. Baby steps 😉
Onto the next adventure!