Arrival in Cambodia

28 Jul

Aside from the usual undignified squabble when we arrived at the dock, and the tuk-tuk driver who followed us halfway through the city (“I follow you! I know you say no, I wait for you, so you want to go now?”), we arrived in Phnom Penh without incident and took a shining to the city pretty quickly. The roads are wide, the river sleepy and the tall palm trees shady. After Vietnam, the people immediately seemed cooler, more confident and laid-back: they’d get our money soon enough, and in the meantime they had their own shit to do. I like that. We stayed on the lily-choked lake, in a true backpacker ghetto where a hamburger seems the easiest food to find (not that *we* ate hamburgers! we only eat bona fide local food. Like frogs, and duck embryos).

We were (of course!) offered dope by our hostel manager on check-in along with towels and toilet paper (we declined but most others didn’t. the drugs, that is, not the paper).

So, first tourist stop was the bling bling Royal Palace, with its solid silver floors and manicured grounds. Then markets, and a few drinks at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club, thanks to some unlucky bugger who dropped US$20 on the ground.

Despite the cool-as-a-cucumber attitude of the city, as a tourist violence and death is the top of the agenda. After two days of touts (in hostel and on street), tempting us with the delights of killing fields and shooting galleries, I was hoping to opt out of all Khmer Rogue related activity. Until I was asked bluntly by a rather stoned long term guest of Green Lake Hostel, what the hell I was doing to Cambodia if I wasn’t going to try to understand the country’s history.

Fair enough.

So while the excitement of shooting a REAL GUN would have to be skipped, we did visit the Genocide Museum…


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