Same same but different

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Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh
June 9th 2009
Published: June 13th 2009
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Aside my never-ending complaints under my breath about the heat, I had a really good time in Cambodia. It was a brief visit hitting up the highlights in Angkor Wat and in Phnom Penh before taking a speedboat to Chau Doc in Vietnam. Life was a bit more laid back in Siem Reap as it was a smaller urban centre (and also low season for travellers) so taking tuk-tuks was a pleasure comparatively to Bangkok where you would fill your pollution quota in no time and potentially experience a near-death encounter from traffic/go deaf from the use of car horns as a defensive driving tool.

In Phnom Penh I had the rare opportunity of visiting with locals when I went with my guide on his scooter to see his house and meet his family. Cambodian hospitality was fantastic as I spent the evening with the Meas family eating a home cooked dinner and practicing english with his adorable niece and nephew. Despite the difficulties some families have in making ends meet, they are entrepreneurial in their business ideas. Part of the Meas family's driveway was rented out to a shop that recharged car batteries. Some of the villages nearby did not have electricity, but a car battery would power a black and white tv for up to a week.

Observations about Cambodia:

The phrase 'Same same but different' seems to sum up Cambodia (if not Asia). Whatever you're looking for seems to have a Cambodian equivalent according to locals as its 'same same but different' even if its sometimes completely opposite of what you're looking for.

A significant % of $1USD bills have fled the country and taken up residence in Cambodia.

If you already bought X souvenir, why not buy just one more. Think about a gift for your mother, grandmother, daughter (even if not yet born), second cousin twice removed?

In case you weren't aware that the vehicle next to you was a Land Rover or a Lexus, the vehicle owner has thoughtfully put the namesake decal on the side of the car in large font.

Avoid drinking the Pepsi bottles on roadside stands unless you're a fire breather. Its a gas stand Cambodian style.

The Koreans have taken over Siem Reap. Many hotels are Korean-owned and cater exclusively to Korean clientele. One Korean flag won't suffice to indicate that the establishment is Korean-friendly... you need a minimum of 5-10 flags out front.

The average number of people on a scooter seems to be about two, but it extends to about 4-5 passengers.

Happy house means washroom, not brothel.

Casinos on the Cambodian border with Thailand encourage Thais to come over daily by the hundreds. Gambling is illegal in Thailand and Cambodian locals need not come as they're not welcome.

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5th July 2009

So, I guess that means when we see you next, we can expect a souvenir for each of us and our next baby, too?

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