Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Am in Cambodia

The Singapore haze was too much for us: and in particular for R, who started to develop a sad little cough. So late on Friday night we decided to leave for cleaner air and a few hours later had chosen Cambodia (mostly because the flights to Phnom Penh from Singapore were cheap: flights in the region have in general gone up recently since everyone else also wants to leave Singapore).

We arrived in Phnom Penh around 12 noon on Saturday. There is something very alluring about last-minute travel decisions (we bought the tickets around 2 am so gratification was very brief indeed), although it does mean I had almost no knowledge of the city we were going to.

So far I really like Phnom Penh. The food is great, and there is a seemingly endless supply of charming restaurants and cafes to wile away one's time in. The broad boulevards lined with trees are nice too: being a former French colony definitely has its advantages, at least for tourists (it reminds me a little of Vietnam and the French concession in Shanghai). Of course the British win the colonist competition (since their former colonies usually have functioning legal systems, economies, and governments: plus railroads) but there is no denying the British cannot cook and have little style.

It is very poor here (numerous begging children, etc: sad because I have to attempt to explain their existence to R, who is naturally curious: "Where is the boy's mommy?") but in many ways the poverty only works to your advantage as a tourist since it means everything is extremely cheap. We are staying at the country's most luxurious hotel (the Raffles Le Royal), which definitely buffers any problems that would otherwise arise from visiting the third world.

So far we are enjoying the great food, low prices (especially for alcohol! makes me want to drink like a fish) and generally relaxing (at least for me and R, this is more of a working vacation for B). Thumbs up for Phnom Penh!

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