The charm here is sure not hidden

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Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh
January 3rd 2007
Published: January 12th 2007
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After a relatively short ride from Kratie, I was lucky enough to be following our route on the map, and then realized that I was about a five minute walk away, told the driver and hopped out before getting to the final stop where all the tuk tuk drivers were waiting. I ended up at my guesthouse, checked in and showered about 10 minutes after getting off, and set out to see the city. I realized right off that this city had all kinds of Charm that Hanoi was missing. Many French colonial buildings had been restored, and the roads are wide, making for a pleasant stroll along the riverside. Also, as soon as one gets out of the tourist ghetto, tuk tuk touts almost disappear. After a good long walk, I got back to my room, went to sleep, then woke up realizing that there had to be about 20 mosquitoes circling around my head. After some investigating, I pulled the curtains back to uncover the fact that one of the window panes was missing, and there was pretty much an incoming flight path of bugs coming in for landing. So, I moved to another place the day after, and there I was snug as a bug without the bugs. Plus, the other spot was also only $3, and I got a private bathroom out of the deal. The prior guesthouse tried to make a big deal out of my room being very large, but it was really all the same to me, all I wanted to do was sleep there. The next morning on my way to the days sightseeing, I stopped off at very busy street eatery, packed with locals. Me being me, I thought, "what a great opportunity to have authentic Khmer food." So, I just went in, pointed to some breakfast soup, and used charades to figure out the price. After the soup came, I realized that it had at least 14 different kinds of meat, including cow intestine and squid. If they could eat it, I could to. So with a little mental work, I got it all down. It had a cow intestine aftertaste, so I ate fast and then realized that I was turning into a temporary Asian. I headed off to the S-21 Khmer Rouge prison to move from the breakfast Holocaust to the Khmer, and ended up walking right passed the ticket counter without either me or the ticket people noticing. Once I realized that I had penetrated security, I thought about it, and knowing how corrupt the country is, decided to take my good fortune and go with it. I spent a few hours there, talking in the sobering experience of torture chambers, photo galleries etc. There seemed to be enough there about the nearby place where those who did not die at the prison where executed, the "killing fields", that I felt no need to shell out the $8 it would have taken for me to go there and come back. I had seen enough for one day, and decided that I needed to go and see more of the city before taking the bus first thing in the morning. On the walk back, I stopped at this street stand where a lady was selling fried bananas. She put them in a bit of a batter, and they looked really good, so I ordered 2 for 12.5 cents total, and they met expectations. So I ordered two more, and then 4 before I left. It was my way of 'paying it forward.' As she was giving me the last 4, she gave me some extra stuff from her stand, and it really drove home the dichotomy between the tourist oriented Khmers and the regular people. Several times over the few days I spent in Cambodia, I came across the most annoying and the most helpful people so far this trip. On to the annoying. I stepped into a restaurant back at the lakeside backpacker ghetto (I know, it is a rare thing for me to eat at sit down places), because this one had a sign saying that all meals came with a fruit shake. Sounds good, and the meal price was $1,25 for the vegetarian option (a few weeks in Asia will make many veg options look attractive, think meat out on a street stand in 100 degree weather). So, I ordered, got my food, and then asked for the fruit shake I wanted. "no sir, your option does not come with a fruit shake." I pointed to another sign inside that said "all meals came with one", after which the waitress pulled some power cords on the wall out of the way in order to reveal a sign that said that veg options did not qualify. Well, I had to see no more in order to make up my mind. I simply got up, told them that they were going nowhere with their business plan, and left. I realized I had lost my appetite, so I just went back to my room and enjoyed an early night before the bus.

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


Sunset at the local MosqueSunset at the local Mosque
Sunset at the local Mosque

Right next to backpacker row
My Breakfast SoupMy Breakfast Soup
My Breakfast Soup

At least 14 different kinds of meat!

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