Cambodia – Phnom Penh
After Siem Reap I flew to the capital Phnom Penh.
In the times of the Khmer rouge and Pol Pot, and even after he was deposed, parts of Cambodia were inadvisable or off limits to foreigners as the Khmer rouge liked to execute any. Cambodia and Phnom Penh were usually considered among the most dangerous places to travel.
Well Phnom Penh still has its share of violent crime, but Cambodia is OK for the independent traveller once the usual precautions such a travelling by taxi at night and a general awareness.
I encountered no difficulties in my travel.
This was in part thanks to Khy and her family who I met on Yahoo Messenger.
They were very kind and drove me to several places.
The first important step for me was to change hotel. I was staying at a Vietnamese run hotel in an area that now escapes me. However Khy did not think the area was good, telling me her English teacher had been mugged in that area.
To be fair the hotel itself did not look great as well.
The No guns sign above the lobby not the most endearing but the doors were flimsy too. I would have no doubt that even a child break the lock. Well perhaps not a child but you get the picture.
I went with Khy and her brother, and sister along the Mekong Delta where I experienced a stunning sunset of a mixture yellows and orange with the silhouettes of people immersed in their every day of life.
However it is not all positive. As a foreigner, I felt treated as a walking ATM.
Whether from the hotel staff who recommended a place to eat and then switches conversation to how ‘poor’ he is.
To the Taxi driver who does the same(an irony as each ride makes then more money than the average Cambodian makes in a day, to the tour guide who showed me the Killing fields then asked for an extortionate amount above the agreed figure, detailing how his family were affected “so sad, so sad!” unconvincingly.
(Note: there would be scarcely a family untouched by those events but the insincere attempts of the guide really is a disgrace). It become so predictable as to where the conversation would turn that my mind just switched off as I predicted with 100% accuracy where any conversation will lead. Scams are not just the preserve of Cambodian targeting westerners. There was a westerner in ‘a bad state’ supposedly robbed and needing money that Khy had seen around doing the same thing before.
At this point I should point out that my friends from Cambodia were fantastic and Cambodia is a place that I hope one day to return.