Cambodian Rythm


Royal Palace Gate
Originally uploaded by inqurious
I'm very fond of the time I had in Vietnam, but it in all senses it was less vibrant than I expected travel in developing nations to be. Cambodia suffers from many things, but not a lack of vibrancy. Although I get pangs of longing for the first world along tedious, 6-hour bus rides, I feel I've found my traveler's legs. This is good, since I'll need them for the days I'll spend pounding around Angkor.

Phnom Penh suffers from multiple personality disorder. A lot of it is a dirty, dusty city with lots of poverty. Other parts are pocked with high-rises of the super elite (there's no in-between) that ride around in fancy cars and their children have bodyguards. There are also fantastic buildings built in a royal style not unlike Thailand's royal palace. And of course there are the numerous backpacker hotels, guest houses, and bars.

We spent the first afternoon venturing around the center of Phnom Penh along the Mekong River around the parks and royal palaces, ending up at a fantastic not-for-profit restaurant that employs street children and give them a trade in the exploding tourist industry. Far and away some of the best food I've eaten this trip, for a good cause, and about $3-4 per tapas dish.

The next day saw us visit the National Museum, full of all the Khmer sculpture I mentioned before, followed by the Royal Palace. Cambodia's monarchs still exist, so we were only able to see about half of the complex as the rest is inhabited by the king and queen.

We spent the rest of the evening barhopping along the riverfront having a fabulous time, and in the morning we left for Siem Reap, where the temples of Angkor reside. As I write this we've already arrived and caught dinner. We got here around 3:30pm and got stranded in our guest house for an afternoon thunderstorm. It wasn't so bad, considering that we're staying in a colonial-style building with lovely marble verandas.

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