What is it about the girls in Phnom Penh?

Trip Start Oct 31, 2012
Trip End Dec 12, 2012

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

It's my first full day in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.  While having breakfast, I read several free newspapers and online news web portals for ex-pats who live here.  The same topic keeps coming up over and over: sex.  In one newspaper supplement, one of the lead stories is by an ex-pat, she doesn't say where she's from, who claims the heat of the tropics makes people engage in more sex.  According to her article, Westerners tend to go "troppo" ("tropical," a nicer way of being derogatory instead of saying "native," with all its negative connotations), when they move to this part of the world.  She further claims that the heat makes foreign women take on the same high levels of horniness that are only found in men (general sterotype).  Her article is rather stupid, and I come to the conclusion that she couldn't get laid in her own home country, which is why she's trying new territory.  But most of the stories that grab headlines are those that imvolve foreign men who get mixed up with local women.  The tales get rather lurid, and if pictures are available, all the better, to which they accompany the articles -- gore and all.  

In one article, a foreigner was seen on the top floor of some high rise shopping mall with a local woman.  Moments later, he falls to his death.  At first it is ruled an accident, but further investigation shows it's a homicide.  His companion can not be found anywhere, and she's suspected of pushing him to his death.  Another story is  about a bar hostess (a nicer way of saying "prostitute"), who told the police that she was with her Korean "songsa" (Khmer slang for "lover') late one night, but when he stepped outside for a few moments, his best friend, who was obsessed with her, came on to her.  When she refused his advances, he stabbed her with the emery board found on nail clippers.  She called her brother for help via cell phone, who just so happened to be sitting on his motorcycle outside the songsa's apartment building, rather than call the songsa or the police.  The attempted murderer allegedly told the police he wanted to kill her since he couldn't have her; the details fo the case were just too suspicious.  Another foreigner killed his best friend over a local woman, and a Russian was shot by a local for taking up with the local's girlfriend.  While there were many more to peruse, I stopped reading after these tawdry three.  But I did catch on to the moral of these stories very quickly: stay away from local girls, especially from the top floors of shopping malls!

With breakfast over, I set out in the boiling heat to explore the historical sites of the city.  (Note: While the country is called Cambodia, the people are Khmer, as is their language.)  

I first head out to the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, housed in the same complex.  Since the king died 1.5 months prior to my visit, the Royal Palace is closed for mourning, and won't reopen until February, when his funeral is scheduled to take place.  The Silver Pagoda, however, is open for all to see.  What makes the pagoda such a big draw is the golden Buddha, which is encrusted with 9584 diamonds, the largest weighing 25 carats.  Since you couldn't take pictures inside the pagoda, I looked for postcards of the statue, but none were to be found.  

Next up was the National Museum.  The museum is small, but like the one in Siem Reap, has excelllent artifacts and just enough items to keep your interest, but not too much to get you bored.  

While walking the streets, I pass the Foreign Correspondents' Club ("FCC"), an institution within itself,  During the war in the region, the FCC was where the print and news correspondents used to go for drinks, newsworthy tips and meet up with one another and CIA agents to discuss the war.  Those American journalists who passed through this place is like a who-is-who in American journalism.  Books and movies on the Vietnam war often make reference to the FCC, making it a minor but important character in the what was going on in the region.  The walls are covered with war photos by members, as well as others that were taken recently of general life in Cambodia.  If these walls could talk, would we really want to know what had been said, or should we let it pass, as time has?  I'm sure many of the correspondents are glad that the walls can't talk, but just think of the stories they could tell.  As times change, so has the FCC.  It now houses a very popular open air restaurant to supplement the bar, and even transformed itself into a boutique hotel! 

I continue my walk along the waterfront and nearby, search out hidden, old French colonial buildings, wondering what they look like inside and what they looked like in their heyday, get lost -- as usual, then call it a day after walking for miles in the heat of the day.  


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