I went out for a great walk with the camera today and saw a variety of city blocks. Big streets with lots of businesses and few people. Small streets with the little shops crowded where the tuk tuks and the motorbikes vied for a two lane road. It was really a warm day here but it started out raining. Like most places here I’ve been the rain only goes for about 30 minutes and then you get blue skies.
So I walked and took some photographs and walked some more. Down streets here kids yelled hello at me and old people nodded and smiled. I’ve felt in both Vietnam and here in Cambodia this warmth and genuineness and openness that perhaps I did not see so much in busy San Francisco. Maybe did not see at all there.
I’ve read a few warning blog posts about people being mugged and robbed and drugged here and I was down this evening in the pub road district where the drunk travelers and backpackers have their court. One guy staggering almost in front of the tuk tuk and even the driver shook his head. I can see why people get scammed there if you go wandering around shit-faced down some of the streets I saw. I don’t think those people want to see Phnom Penh. They want the bar and food district that’s like other places they’ve been. The real Phnom Penh still is there though. You just need to get away from that part of the city and find the blocks where people work, laugh, and eat. Where the Khmer people live and the kids yell at you and smile. It all depends on what Cambodia you want to see. Its not all good and a Kymer told me there is a lot of poverty in their country. You can see it easily out walking. I saw the same in India. Dealing with it takes a little effort. Like even in Vietnam there are parts that I loved and laughed at and even cried a bit over. Here you can see it by a small lake where the poorer people live. Asking for handouts is in full effect and I feel bad for the people. There are many children there too but even with all that sadness the children find some bit of joy in the simple things of being a child. So somehow you have to take both and deal with it if you come to Asia. You will see it all. If you leave the touristy havens and see what Phnom Penh or Hanoi or wherever is all about. The areas where the people live and eat and children go to school.
Small streets where football is played and the small carts with produce and bbq wheel through. Those streets may be the most fabled in all of the places. Each time I’ve walked one I’ve enriched. Its a microcosm of life there as I’ve said before. You can see so much in how the day to day life of the person is played out. The local market. The coffee stand. The sandwich place. The laughter and smiling faces as people go by. I truly think that Cambodians want people to see their country. They’ve come a long way.
The main thing here though is getting around. And I mean that in the largest sense of the word. If you settle for bar districts and scams and wonder why you never saw Cambodia, I think I have an answer for you. I’ve wandered for 4 days in non touristy areas. Taken pictures of the city. Stopped for water. Got back to the room and planned out dinner. A local place? The best burger joint in town? Getting around in the tuk tuk is the way but there is also a tuk tuk of the heart and soul that will take you through Cambodia. Don’t miss some of it because its not where the tourists go.
You owe it to yourself to see the place. Breathe in the goods and bads. Look at what the city offers. Don’t be afraid. Just get around on foot or tuk tuk. I think you will be enriched at the effort.
Traveling Forever and Visas too…
I’ll submit my passport and request for a 12 month retirement extension of stay visa this Sunday with the agent. It takes 7 to 10 days to get one and then I’m done with the last passport and visa thing required for here for a year. I can always come back to Cambodia from where I am for the next year. The LaLune hotel becomes my home base because I like this place and they treat me well.
But now, I’ll drink my beers in the room and watch BBC world news and wonder about the United States. Some of the things are so sad there. We seem stuck in a political climate of dysfunction and corruption. I hope that things change but my take is it will take longer than 2020 to set our ship right again. Then our allies will be our uncertain foes and our enemies will know how to take advantage of us.
That’s about it for now folks. Have yourselves a good evening. If you blog, write something. Create some content. Delete an ad or two that gets in the way. Like I’ve said before I want your words and I want them tied together.