Hello Kompong Cham... no wait, this is Phnom Penh

Hello Phnom Penh

Well I'm in Phnom Penh now.. the capital of Cambodia.  I did
get on a bus headed for Komphong Cham, in fact we stopped there,
and I opted to pay an extra $2 US to take me to the capital
instead... I'm not sure why I changed plains... but I just
didn't feel like staying there - call it a vibe? But I just
wasn't keen, so I headed for the capital.

The bus trip took about 9 to 10 hours including stops, I
sorta phased out near the end, and dropped me in the middle of
town (or should I say city, apparently the population here is
about 1 million?) - and after that I grabbed a tuk tuk to the
Boeng Kak Lakeside district, AKA backpacker hell (and of course
I've already been offered fiky-fik/boom-boom/brown
(heroin?),marijuana, opimun and coke. 

At any rate I had a squiz at the "green lake guesthouse" - seemed
ok - so I've grabbed a $3/night room there, hopefully It's not
too hot (Cambodia is definitely hotter then Laos, but the rain
seems to be counteracting that somewhat.. go the rainy

The "hilight" of the bus trip would have to be the trip from
Strung Treng to Kratie, which is on roads which I imagine were
adequate back in the day (they appear to have been sealed once) -
but now they've decayed to an endless string of pot
holes which the bus I was riding navigated at what I
estimate to be about 30 km/hr - fun fun fun, The major
problem here is that Cambodia is very very flat... and the roads
appear to be uncrowned and the same height as the very very flat
plain... ipso factso it's a disaster.. however I think my years
of dealing with Northland metal roads on my parents "ticki
tours" in New Zealand as a kid had prepared me well ;o)

The things that strike me in Cambodia as different to everywhere
else I've been (so far) is.. horses.. they seem to be quite
common in Cambodia, and used for all sorts of meanial labour that
would fall upon the water buffalo or "japanese buffalo"
(tractor/hoe contraption) back in Laos.  The horses however
are very small, and seem to look kinda like their going to drop
dead from Exhaustion..

After I sat down and watched the sun set I chilled out a little
from my trip.. talked to a Cambodian student named "paul" (or
something that sounds like paul) for an hour or two then
meandered off to find food, eventually settling on the "Lazy
Gecko" which is just up the road - they charge loads ($4
US!) - but did serve me pork chops, nice gravey and mashed
potatoes with a tastey mixed fruit shake... I would never have
thought I could actually miss mashed potatoes, but I did!

While talking to "Paul" we discussed various things such as the
apparent corruption in government ..."Mr Private" kept cropping
up, apparently he's done wonderful things for the
country such as selling the tourism rights to Angkor Wat to
the vietnamese, deforestation of Phnom Penh (which they now blame
for the droughts here) and Taking bribes from Thailand to not
enlarge the airport allowing for international air traffic -
wether the lad was exagerating, who knows.. but he seemed pretty

Poverty is definitely more "in your face" here - the contrast of
wealth and poverty is massive.. people drive $100K plus cars past
you in the street while just steps from this internet cafe
people are crammed into a single room like sardines,
grandparents, parents and children. 

From what I've read (and talking to Paul) - the ratio's run
something like 5 million employed, 3 million self employed and 4
million unemployed in Cambodia - with the self employed all on or
below the poverty line.. They had a riot earlier this year and
with over half the population under the age of 16 I wouldn't be
surprised if more occur in the future as the majority of
the population get to the age of voting (or realising
there vote doesn't count for much in a reasonably corrupt

While we're talking numbers, apparently the infant mortality rate
here is around 9% at birth...  Joy!

Oh and I'm going to the killing fields tomorrow... so I'll
appologise in advance for any emotive trite I end up posting
around that trip, as who can say what effects seeing 8 or 9
thousand humans skulls will have on me... probably apathy, but
I'd like to think I may be touched on a more then statistical

My mouse appears to be full of fluid and contains a small rubber

Written on May 10, 2005