Soeung Samnang College Lecturer Soeung Samnang, 31, is a lecturer of Applied Linguistics and Research Methodology at the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL) of the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP). A native of the capital, Samnang always tells himself: ‘Happiness is what you make on your own.’ This week he spoke with Rinith Taing about the places where he lives out that philosophy in Phnom Penh
The Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL)
Considered one of the most prestigious colleges in the country, IFL is the target for many Cambodian students, just like Harvard University in the United States, and I was one of those lucky enough to pass the entrance exam to study in its English program in 2004. When I was awarded my B.Ed in 2008, I was among a few students who were recruited to be lecturers at IFL. Despite having worked here for more than eight years, I have never found it boring or tiring to leave my home for IFL. My work environment, the combination of exotic nature and the unique, stunning structures designed by the famous architect Vann Molyvann, is so relaxing that I sometimes feel like I’m teaching in a palace, with fish ponds and flower gardens. It is also filled with memorable moments I have had with my friends, my lecturers – who are now my colleagues – and my students – some of whom are also now my colleagues as well.
Sopheak Barber Shop
Although I care very much about my hair, I have never changed my hairstyles. That means I always have it cut at the same barbershop, by the same barber. Sopheak Barber Shop [on Street 380] in Boeung Keng Kang is just like the other barber shops in Phnom Penh, except my barber there is so familiar with my family. He knows my father and my brother, plus he is a friendly and persuasive talker. While cutting my hair, he usually talks about things in Cambodia, such as politics, economy, music and so on. Surprisingly, I really enjoy talking with him.
Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center (CJCC)
I love almost everything about the Japanese – their lifestyle, architecture, education, and so on, for their perfection and inspiration. In Cambodia, there is nowhere as Japanese as CJCC. In my own words, this place is perfectly harmonious. The unique grey building within green, blooming surroundings creates a peaceful and attractive ecosystem. Besides being a place for events and activities organised by JICA and other institutions, CJCC provides Japanese language courses to the public, one of which I have been taking for a year. Its canteen also serves Japanese dishes, such as ramen, curry rice and sushi, most under the price of $2. Unfortunately, the food is the only Japanese thing I don’t like, and I usually bring food from outside when I have my meal.
Korean BBQ & Soup
Unlike Japanese food, I really love Korean food, especially Korean barbecued beef. Korean BBQ & Soup is my favourite place to go to enjoy that. The restaurant has two branches one in Sovanna Shopping Center, and the other at Koh Pich. The food there really satisfies my taste buds, maybe due to the taste that Korean and Cambodian [food] has in common, while the prices are affordable too. The sauce is the most special thing not too salty, not too spicy. The first time I learned about Korean BBQ & Soup was when my students took me there for a party. Since then, we often go there for our parties, especially at the end of the semesters.
Like many other busy Cambodian people, I often go to AEON Mall to get a taste of modern lifestyles: going shopping for electrical devices and fashionable clothes, eating international foods, and watching movies at Major Cineplex. Nevertheless, the most interesting part of AEON to me is the Japanese modern architecture of the building. It may sound a little bit weird, but I find the bathrooms the special feature of AEON Mall. Most of the places in Phnom Penh have only two types of bathroom, male and female, but at AEON they have another bathroom for the handicapped. Most people may not pay much attention to that, but I think it shows the thoughtfulness and kindness in Japanese culture.