More from Phonm Penh

Trip Start Jan 13, 2009
Trip End May 17, 2009

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Where I stayed
Diamond's Guest House

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Phonm Penh
I got a computer!!!!  In PP!!!!  With lots of help and some great Karma.  The nice guy at the guesthouse that was full that I went to with the girl from France suggested a place to buy a computer.  I had been going back and forth at home, researching every which way but loose on which one to buy , the ratings, searching other's blogs to see if there was enough wifi to make it know - my regular due diligence, excessive analytical shopping process.  Anyhow, with my SE Asian guru's advice - I decided not to bring one......Janice you have been right about everything else...except, why did you not force me to not buy anything at all before I left.  I wish I came with nothing as everything is so cheap here you could outfit yourself for 1/100th of the cost.....oh well....get to Beijing and I am the only kid on the block without one - so uncool.  Looked at them in China and they were so much more than at home.....cheapo me - no way.  Get to Bangkok - again, wishing I had one cause I am not out so late when I am not pal-ing around with someone because a) it is dark and I am so spatially challenged I get lost and b) it is dark and sometimes bad things happen at night (27 years of policing....this is what we sometimes call...a clue!) and c) I am old and get tired from the long days of adventure in the heat.
Look at computers in Bangkok - lots of them but even more expensive than in China....wishing for Costco and not happy I am uncool.  Siem Reap and getting the blog and picture thing down pat and meet Raquel on the scam bus - she shows me hers and how she downloads her photos every night, does her blog, conducts law business online and is all around in love with the computer and doesn't find it too much of a hassle to schlep around.  I am so envious I start making a plan.  Contact Henry Hollinger - part time Vietnam resident and inquire if it is viable to have one sent to Saigon.  Henry says no - it will be stolen in transit and he starts a search to find someone coming from Calgary to Vietnam who would agree to bring it to me..., Jackie does inquiries with fed ex and purolater and they say, for a price, they will ensure it gets to Saigon.  Do cost benefit analysis on the bus form Batt to PP and decide - Hell ya, can't put a price on coolness and convenience and the joy of knowing only your DNA is on the keyboard.
 Well obviously you can put a price on it and I decide it will be worth it.  Decide to contact Jackie and get the wheels in motion to have a little Costco gem shipped to Saigon.  Meet the French girl on the bus - she shows me hers and we decide together I need one to - she has a friend in PP working for the French government and we decide to pursue that.  Meet GH guy - I go to PP store expecting they will not have real computers and wowser they have the one I want - seems legit, it is on sale and another customer (Cambodian guy who spoke English - very little English here and nearly zip at the store) gave me advice and I bought it.  It needed to be formatted with the stuff I wanted on it so I was to return the next day to pick it up.  Go to the National Museum to hang around waiting for my computer to be ready and my visa for Laos to be completed and meet a woman from LA and we get talking - she has the exact computer I just bought and she asks me hard questions about what I am getting on it......being the moron I am, I say, duh?????  She agrees to come with me to the store for pick up - we pal around all day and really enjoy ourselves.  She had been pretty miserable for a while as she caught some GI thing in Thailand and had been feeling poorly for a while - the whole time in Cambodia.  Not digging Cambodia - me?  loving it as usual.  Anyway, she came to the computer superstore with me and asked some really tough questions.   This caused a stir.....hard to translate hard questions to girls in matching silk suits who have been hired only because they are pretty and match nicely.  Finally, Hop (my new friend) tests out all my new gear, realizes I got a whack of very expensive 'grey market'' programs and a 6 cell battery thrown into the deal, making the price point all the more favorable....and ta da!!!  Day 2 with the new thing.
Hop and I paled around the last couple of days - we rented a tuk tuk to take us around and he quit on us cause he had no idea what to show us.....Our Khmer is not so mostly we hung around taking pictures in the city - taking in the sights including the riverfront, the Russian market, the genocide museum and sipping tea in free wifi cafes as she patiently taught me some basics about using my new toy.  Thankfully she teaches special ed to high school gangsters in LA after a career at the top of the publishing industry in NY.  The special ed stuff came in handy and I was able to reciprocate by running interference with the street touts, beggars and tuk tuk drivers and moto drivers who yell at you non stop.  I am completely fine with them, love to negotiate and she hates, with a passion, that part of Street Life.  It really is quite an unexpected nice City - undergoing a lot of infrastructure work.  Nice French layout with large public 'squares' and gigantic monuments in traffic circles - a la Paris.  The French were here for many many years during the formation of the City.
Tonight they had a couple of big groups doing public aerobics in one of the Tianammen Square sized park in front of the Royal Palace.  Hundreds? of Cambodians, mostly women and a few brave men, led by male instructors, participated in the aerobics class while just as many onlookers watched.  Of course I took part - hoping it would be line dancing but nah, it stayed as aerobics.  I did pretty well for most of the class considering I was wearing a backpack with my trusty computer on my back, my shoulder bag and it still was around 35 degrees. 
After that got into a little verbal sparring with a creepy, very creepy old guy who was picking up a Cambodian child prostitute at the next table to us at dinner.  We had been frequenting a cafe that supports an orphanage and programs for street kids with half of the profits going to these programs.  A very young girl approached the next table - three men and attempted to sell her wares.  The big creepy guy bought her a Coke  and then started touching her.  I was incensed.  Ok, the kid was the aggressor but this whole sex tourism here is so awful.  It truly is the only real negative, and it is really a big negative.  So much greater than it was last time I was over here - 24 years ago you saw it in the tourist towns in thailand but this time, it was everywhere in Bangkok - fully out in the open. You see these disgusting old white western men with their wizzled skin and lecherous faces hanging out with beautiful Thai or Cambodian girls.  I understand the economic factors for the girls but these losers, - the types that may still be living in their mom's basements at age 55, or in a tenement apartment at aged 65  in Frankfurt or Stockholm or Newark or Saskatoon, come here, flash their money, and you don't need much to buy flesh here in Asia.  Then the poor girls have to walk around with these losers, feigning affection or they will be replaced by the next candidate.  ooohhhh! 
Ok, don't cringe, yes I do remember not having the use of my arms for a summer and the residual effects of those rather catastrophic injuries.......but......... I had to say something to this pedophile.  He told me she told him she was 23....this guy looked liked Hannibal Lechter - drooling at the prospect that some kid approached him in a restaurant.  We were all sitting out on the sidewalk - a free for all of the street kids, selling books and postcards, who use this restaurant as a base, the tuk tuk and moto guys who were hanging beside our table and the other zillions just cruising by......this girl was probably 13 so I told buddy that if she was 23 then I was 17.......there was some discussion, his table mates agreed with me and it seems like they had just met - and I asked him what he thought the law was in Cambodia for child sex exploitation.  This guy was so flippin excited he couldn't wait to grab her and take off leaving her full coke and his dinner.  Yuck.  His table mates then joined me as Hop headed back to her Guest house.  One of the older street kids and one of the tuk tuks suggested that this kid was HIV positive so again some loser brings something else back to his family other than his memories of Cambodia.  I was secretly hoping he gets rolled but I don't think they are sophisticated enough here for that.  With a little coaching.....oh well, can't change social injustice in a few weeks and both Thailand and Cambodia certainly are spending big dollars on a print campaign promoting responsible tourism and Report a Predator numbers.  I did read that a Canadian guy got busted in the town I am going to tomorrow.  I guess it has a reputation as pedophilia central - I hope I don't have to see it everywhere.   
Hope to get my pictures uploaded so I can share them with yŠll.  Problem is the wifi connection strength has not been good enough, or consistent long enough for me to upload the pictures I have made into files and the couple of blogs I have now done in Word.  Faye, Jackie, Arlene, Louisa, all my trusty supports over the years, because you were so great at what you did, you enabled me to stay dumber than dumb.  Ok, not you Faye - you pushed me cause we hadn't really shared a nest together.  You other three, my bestest buddies, in hindsight you should have made me stand on my own more.......but......look at me now!  When the student is ready, the teacher will adage for years.   I know you are all brimming with pride.  I am a big girl now and can manipulate my own files......Excel here I come.......yeah right.
Ciao for now,
Still happy on the road.
Love Deb
Please do not send me advice to shut up - yes I do know better.....I also know I should eat less sugar and more vegetables but I don''t always do that either!!!  Sometimes you just have to speak up, the hairy eyeball is not always enough.
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