Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Land of Surprises

Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

It's way down the list in the GDP rankings. Generally known as a poor country that is still pulling itself out of the grim shadow of the murderous Khmer Rouge and the genocide over 30 years ago.

So imagine my surprise when the first 7 cars I saw outside the airport were - Toyota Camry, Lexus Land Cruiser, Lexus, Lexus, Mercedes, Toyota Tundra (huge pickup), Lexus. I had two raised eyebrows. I've noticed that the Lexus is quite common. Not because it's cheap, and not because most people are rich. Many people in the capital have 'alternate' sources of income. That's what I've been told. I took a tuk-tuk from the airport to the hostel. And I'm glad I did.

I quite like Cambodia so far. Hawkers and tuk-tuk drivers never ask more than once and always smile even if you say, "No, thank you". People smile a lot. I could get used to this. What's hard to get used to is the fact that I can't take my bag or camera with me when I go for a walk after sunset or for dinner in the evening. This, I'm told, would definitely invite bike-riding bag-snatchers and thieves. But this is not for the whole of Phnom Penh. Just for the street I'm living on. Hmm.

I once read somewhere that Cambodian women aren't too pretty. The author of that article obviously has no taste in women, or must be gay. The percentage of good-looking women is ridiculously high. Seriously. And no, I'm not in heat. I quite like Cambodia so far.

Speaking of the heat - it's like a sauna here. But not unbearable. If you've got a fan near you, you'll be fine. If not, you need a towel. Or a fan.

If you've been to Cambodia or read about it, you might know that the driving here is atrocious. Some of the motorbikes weaving their way through traffic look more like they're wobbling. Like a drunk elephant trying to ride a bicycle with it's trunk. Women seem to be better drivers here. Yeah, I said it. And no, I'm not in heat.

The food, oh the food. I ate 'Eastern Luc Lak' for dinner. It was sumptuous. It is stir fried sliced beef with special home-made onion sauce, fried egg, fried vegetables with lemon pepper dipping, served with fragrant rice. *drools*

Good food, warm people, beautiful women, horrendous driving (which makes crossing the road quite interesting) - what more could this dog want? Ah yes, a place to lay my head. And I have that. The hostel I'm staying at is quite nice. You sleep on a mattress on the floor, it's clean and the owner is full of useful advice. Martin came to Cambodia 13 years ago and worked with a few NGOs before he took over the hostel. He speaks fluent Khmer and is a great help with booking buses and tuk-tuks. Nice chap.

I quite like Cambodia so far.


  1. Look at that beauty! *points to the food pickchar*