Off to Malaysia tomorrow. Kuala Lumpur is our first stop. My college friend Noah lives in KL and on Borneo. He takes photographs of indigenous people and the rainforest. This is his website: www.hopeinlight.com. There will be more about the great things he’s doing in this space later on. CeCe also takes the GRE in Kuala Lumpur on Christmas Eve. Cross your fingers and say a prayer for her.
So that means our Cambodia adventure ends tomorrow. And none too soon I might add. It’s just my opinion, but Cambodia isn’t much of a destination. It’s no surprise, given the extent of wars it saw during the second half of the 20th century. Combine absurd amounts of American bombs with Pol Pot and throw in years of Vietnamese occupation, and you can imagine why the country has so many problems.
That said, we received the impression that there are many, many people here doing good work to improve the standing of ordinary Cambodians. There are charities all over the place which is encouraging. There’s been 10% economic growth each of the last four years; the English language newspaper was bemoaning the paltry 5% increase expected this year. So maybe the future is bright? But for two random tourists with just 10 days to spare, there’s not much worth crowing about.
Without further ado, here are my impressions, in 100 words give or take, so that we can go eat dinner:
Phnom Penh is dirty. And smelly. And the traffic gave me nightmares. Despite all the brochures asking you to “Stay One More Day”, we didn’t want to. To its credit many people speak English. For example: “Sir, madam, you want motobike?” Repeat to yourself over and over and you’ll get the picture.
The road to Siem Reap was flat. Angkor Wat was big, full of tourists, and sort of like a 1000-year-old Disneyland. I met an 11-year-old postcard hawker named Ty who knows that America has 300 million people but he had nothing nice to say about my mother when I wouldn’t buy his postcards. (I’m still not sure how he knows my mother.) Angkor Wat also has a bit of a poaching problem. Just ask the lizards. But each of the bathrooms had two people staffing them. That’s a plus in my book.
But most people seemed happy. The staff at our hotel laughed a lot. Evidently, being Cambodian involves copious napping, which is also a good thing.
And Siem Reap has hundreds of enormous bats in its trees. You can’t argue with that.