Sunday, March 26, 2006

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

After a while in Saigon, I needed to find a way to renew my visa and a 3-day trip into the former kingdom of Cambodia was just the ticket (re-entry means a new visa, it's like pressing reboot on an old computer.)
Phnom Penh is smaller than Saigon, and different for many reasons, the obvious historical one being the rule of the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian-Vietnamese war which ended it only 27 years ago. Meaning the entire country still has a good excuse for feeling a little shell-shocked. Despite this, it was actually a great place to be. (um... great place to be a rich tourist, anyway. Awkward.) The obvious cultural reason is the Hindu influence which is so obvious in Cambodia and so not in Vietnam, at the eastern border of the former Cham and Khmer empires. I spent most of my time walking around as much of the city as possible. An entire evening was spent playing guitar with the street kids. They proved more teachable than the Saigon kids, actually. I actually got them doing some hand percussion and a couple of them learned to strum on the beat. Ate Indian food twice. Andhra Pradesh food, specifically. In tourist parts of town everybody's hawking something, but they don't mind you not buying it if you play them a song. Everyone requested "Imagine", which seems fitting, although I'm sure it's just a clichéed coincidence. The hostels on Boeng Kak (lake) are gorgeous. Lastly, it's a little nauseating to be asked over and over if you want any "beautiful girls". Although speaking of beautiful girls (in a non human-trafficking sense) I spent some time with two cool Chilean sisters and an equally cool Brazilian (here).

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