02 January, 2007

Thoughts on Cambodia (so far)

I'm really sleepy from a filling but forgettable meal, so bullet points it is.

Thoughts on Cambodia, So Far:
-people are darker and broader. In Vietnam everyone was bleaching their skin and dressing to the nines but here, it's a little more of a natural look. Guys are buffer. Girls are rounder. And skin colors are a gorgeous range of bronzy browns.

-being a backpacker is weird... it's really convenient (cheap prices, lots of English spoken) and a neat little mini-society (everything is so close together!), but also kinda disgusting (blatant hooker activity and their mangy customers; cafeteria food at cafeteria prices).

- the Boeng Kak lakeside area in Phnom Penh is fun. Our room, though right on the street, was quiet enough last night for *really* good sleep. Heavy, dark, dead-to-the-world sleep. Nice.

-the Tuol Sleng Museum is Cambodia's answer to Europe's Holocaust museum. It was gruesome but really well done. Very respectful to the victims of the Khmer Rouge. But it was a little much to see the torture photos and to look down and realize that we were standing on the same tiled floor that the killing took place on. Yikes.

-it's really freaking hot and dusty here. Also, when choosing from a myriad of bathroom options, with toilet paper is better than with bidet (just my preference), but "squatty potties" are preferable to regular sit down toilets because let's face it, if you're not keen to touch your skin to a surface, squatting low is more comfy than doing the "thighs of steel" hover.

-buses are plentiful on the tourist trail. There are so, so many ways to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, and I'm willing to bet that there are just as many (maybe more) to get us from Siem Reap to Bangkok. In this way, being prepared can be nice but you can also just show up and there will be many guys with motorbikes and tuk-tuks (these guys are called touts) ready to take you somewhere you didn't know about before.

-and despite it all, I still really like Lonely Planet. People like to turn up their noses and say it's too touristy, too mainstream, blah blah and sure, they're right: if you live your life out of a lonely planet book you'll be sure to feel like a tourist all the time. But I've found it really helpful when you don't want to carry a map, a language guide, a list of attractions, and a description of local foods around with you. So far, so good.

-catching the bus at 6:50 am tomorrow! gotta go snooze.

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