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Old Posted Oct 10, 2013, 8:01 PM
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a few quick snaps of Phnom Penh

24 hours in the city...












































































































































































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some old threads: Hanoi i, Hanoi ii, Hoi An, Hue, Phnom Penh, Cho Lon

Last edited by Abelard; Oct 10, 2013 at 11:33 PM.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2013, 1:16 AM
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Fascinating city, you can really see the colonial French influence.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2013, 2:49 AM
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What a treat! Too bad this desert rat can't travel to the hot/humid areas of the world anymore, just can't do it! I don't think most people realize what living in the low humidity desert regions can't do to your body, over time: intolerance to humidity!

I knew, from the last trip to SE Asia, in 2004, crippled by the heat/humidity, I'd never get over there again!

I'm sure, within time, this city will increasingly resemble Bangkok! Can't fight progress!

I read a biography of Pol Pot, a year ago, and the horrors in that book will always be remembered, like when he all but emptied that city, and banished a good part of the residents to the countryside.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2013, 12:20 PM
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I don't mind Phnom Penh. In some ways it resembles Saigon - a much smaller version (pre-2000). I'm not sure it'll ever reach Bangkok's lofty heights, however. While it's enjoying some development, it's still a pretty sleepy place.

Cheers for sharing.
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Old Posted Oct 12, 2013, 1:23 AM
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It's like an Asian New Orleans.
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Old Posted Oct 12, 2013, 2:11 AM
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I know I haven't posted on here in ages, so thanks for the comments.

I wish I'd had more time there - it's an interesting place, and I don't really think one can understand it too well without speaking the language, or at the very least actually living there as opposed to just visiting.

It's quite a lot smaller and smaller and sleepier than other cities in the region (apart from Vientiane), but at the same time, there was tough-to-define but unmistakably sinister atmosphere, which I've never encountered anywhere else in SEA (admittedly, that's exactly the kind of subjective observation that should be taken with a large grain of salt). All the hotels have signs saying that they'll only accept children accompanied by adults who have documentation proving that they're the legal guardians - it's as if the pimps have all read their David Ricardo and determined that there's a comparative advantage to be had in offering the one service that you can't easily find in Thailand. Many of the victims are kidnapped from Vietnamese border provinces. Gambling in Phnom Penh is also very popular for Vietnamese, who can't legally gamble in VN, and the associated vices contribute to long-standing anti-Vietnamese sentiment, which the opposition parties are quick to capitalize on. There's also something very depressing about how blatantly and crudely the genocide has been commodified for tourists. Going to see the Tuol Sleng prison or the "Killing Fields" - the development rights of which were auctioned off to a Japanese company - are standard activities for backpackers. I had no interest in that, but it's a challenge to talk a taxi driver out of taking you there. Beyond that, there's a vaguely sinister air to the place (in my experience, at least) - you get the feeling everywhere you go that you're being scoped out. Theft is fairly common, including drive-by "tuk-tuk invasions," and we were warned to be careful near the riverfront due to a recent spate of paving stones being hurled at tourists by gangs who then fled on their motorbikes.

Still, it's amazing how well the city has recovered given the horrors of the 70s and hardships of the Vietnamese occupation in the 80s, and in light of that, being a bit less hospitable to tourists than other places in the region is hardly the worst problem to have. In many ways Cambodia is more politically vibrant than Vietnam, despite the Cambodian People's Party's and business cronies' iron grip on power. There were huge and relatively peaceful opposition demonstrations during the last (rigged) elections, which would be unthinkable in Laos or Vietnam, and met with swift state responses in Thailand, or China. There's a lot more space for public discussion of politics than there is in Vietnam - a fact bemoaned by many Vietnamese who follow the news. Young peoples' English proficiency and the development of Khmer alphabet software has made urban Cambodia far less isolated than it has been essentially since the 60s, when it was seen as a rather swinging, cosmopolitan place, even compared with Saigon. There was actually a burgeoning psychedelic rock scene for most of the decade, before the American bombing which killed at least 600,000 and arguably proved decisive in enabling the Khmer Rouge to seize power.

Video Link


Phew... that's more than I'd meant to write. Anyhow, thanks for indulging me. This is a great forum.
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some old threads: Hanoi i, Hanoi ii, Hoi An, Hue, Phnom Penh, Cho Lon
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Old Posted Oct 12, 2013, 4:36 AM
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Lovely, the old parts of town are so agreeable, the new parts, not so much.
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Old Posted Oct 12, 2013, 11:00 AM
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@Abelard

You put that quite well. I should be careful what I say about Cambodia given my experiences there have been fleeting and not terribly authentic - 4 star hotels, sheltered from reality and all that.

The Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia is quite an interesting bit of history: something few know about, or perhaps care about, I suppose. Needless to say, these two countries have a long and colourful history stretching back centuries. The horrors the Khmer Rouge inflicted upon the Vietnamese, amongst others, is but one example of the kind of ethnic cleansing perpetrated against the Khmer themselves by the Vietnamese over hundreds of years. Regardless, I would hazard to guess that the occupation of 1979-89 will not be the last time Vietnam has soldiers in Cambodia, if history is any indication at least. The questions is: what will China do?

Enough babbling...
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