So having been in Phnom Penh for a couple of days we have noticed a few things. The first is that the money here doesn’t have silk sweatshops on the backs, and the second is that the architecture is a pleasant blend of modern and traditional. For example the hotel we are staying in is a concrete rectangle seven stories tall, though the shape of the roof is traditional, and so are the tiles.
I can’t see the roofs of only a handful of buildings when I look out the window of our room on the 5th floor, and most of those are still under construction. Phnom Penh is a huge city that has, very literally, recently started exploring new heights.
Between the broad boulevards and well lit roads lie small neighborhoods of the less fortunate, with dark, winding alleyways between corrugated steal roofs, which seem to be the only modern part of each house. Many of them are built on small stilts, as the flooding here certainly gets high enough to be a problem.
|Birds for sale at a temple|
|Buddha on a gate of the Grand Palace|
There is a curious phenomenon amongst the younger generation of Cambodians, they hear stories from their parents about the tragedies they lived through and witnessed, they can see the killing fields where their countrymen were slaughtered. But few of them really believe it happened. They think the experiences of their parents are ghost stories, like we think of the tales of the Boogey man.
Since Pol Pot was removed from power there has been no conversation, no discussion in schools or colleges about the atrocities committed not two decades ago. Although this is starting to change, many are concerned about the affect this will have on the future generations, they worry that the fun, peace loving youth of today will harden, becoming more aggressive.
The Cambodia of today is a safe place, for anybody to come to, although it was not so some ten years ago. Today I was listening to a story told by an Aussie fellow who has been coming to Cambodia since 1994 at first for pleasure, then for work, and now to give back to the country he fell in love with, giving money to NGO’s and charity organizations. The story he told was from one of his first visits to a friend of his who lived here in Phnom Penh.
But as I said earlier, Cambodia is safe these days. Sure there are pickpockets (our first night here we ran into a guy who’s bag got stolen off a bus), and Tuk Tuk drivers who will try to rip you off, among other hazards that every city seems to possess, but you really have to do something rash to warrant any hostility.
The beggars are tame, and so are the street vendors, a shake of your head is all it takes to get somebody off your tail. A smile goes a long way here, so does common curtsey. Don’t be shy to have a conversation with the Tuk Tuk driver you employ for five minutes, you wont ever see him again in the throngs of people, and you might just enrich both your lives.
In this country you really do get what you give.