Thun Thavry is a young writer who recently appeared on a Cambodian authors panel at the Kampot Writers and Readers Festival. Her first book is a memoir, A Proper Woman, which will be published in January. It chronicles the female experience in Cambodia through three generations of women in her family. She spoke with Andrew Nachemson about where she hangs out around the capital
I like to come here to work on drafts of my book while drinking an iced latte. I like it because it has a very interesting design, probably the most creative design in all of Phnom Penh. You can take a slide down from the second floor to the first floor to pay your bill. There’s a table made from an old sewing machine, art on the walls made from recycled material, and antiques on display. K.E Café is also great for local artists. They provide a space on the third floor to display art from young Cambodians and host an exhibition with the artists every Saturday. Cambodia has so many young talented people, but not many places to display their work.
Smallworld co-working space
The founders, including my brother Rithy, started Smallworld with $500. They were dreamers who wanted a space where people could just be themselves. Smallworld is a place where young people who have business ideas can come rent a space and work on them. We host programs featuring brainstorming, project design, market research and mentor training. We have 10 startups right now. The environment is very friendly and welcoming; you can hang out with like-minded people and share ideas. The people there are like brothers and sisters, all working towards the same goal. There are hammocks to relax on and read, and we have one very lazy cat who everyone loves.
I like TK Avenue because it’s nearby [my home] and has less people than Aeon Mall. It’s mostly just for Tuol Kork people. It’s smaller than Aeon Mall, too, but it’s better because it’s less crowded. There’s a nice outdoor area where I can sit and talk to friends. I like to go on Saturday or Sunday to hang out with friends and go to the cinema. Sometimes we go to fancy restaurants, but I prefer to buy fresh salmon there and make food at home.
Arey Ksat feels like the countryside: it feels like my hometown. They grow crops like lemon grass and mango like they do on my island. I like to take the ferry from near Royal Palace and spend a few hours just riding my bicycle along the river through the farms. There is a spot where you can see a great view of Phnom Penh from the riverbank at a distance. I like to stop here and sit in the grass near a banana farm. It’s relaxing just to get away from the city a little. It’s surprising how different it feels even though it’s still so close to Phnom Penh.
Street food at Tuol Kork market
There are street vendors all around the outside of Tuol Kork Market from about 3pm to 9pm. I know all the vendors at the market – one of them is even from my home village [in Kandal province]. Each family has their own stall, but they sell different food and always support each other. There’s not a lot of competitiveness: you can eat at one stall and order something else from another. My favourite snacks there are the duck eggs [pong tea kon, a fertilised duck embryo] with a really tasty pepper sauce or the $1 papaya salad.