Phnom Penh

Just back from Phnom Penh and found it the most charming little city. I enjoyed myself immensely, though got a little sunburned - the legenbdary Cambodian sun is no joking matter.
I went to Cambodia 10 years ago, and like many tourists I overdosed on the tragedy of the place - I really wallowed in the miserable modern history of the Cambodian nation. This time I deliberately avoided all that and instead discovered a beautiful city full of beautiful people and throbbing with a proud and vibrant culture.The food is excellent - wonderful upscale cafes and bars and delightful downscale street stands and market stalls. Phnom Penh is a lounge lizard's paradise, and I could easily spend a month there working my way through the cafes and restaurants. The heat is pretty impressive, and curtails sightseeing to the early morning when the locals do their most important business. Climbing to the top of Wat Phnom at 7 in the morning is not a lonely experience - people are praying for good luck in their business and at school, beggars crowd the entrances and the temple cats are at their most playful.The Khmer are wildly spiritual, and monks are everywhere you look. The streets are crowded with small and large spirit houses erected to house the local deities and provide a quick and local outlet for prayer to the Lord Buddha.Naturally there is still much poverty, but the people are unfailingly smiling and friendly - and frequently quite beautiful. I was talked into taking the bus from Saigon (something I'll never do again), and it was a wonderful chance to catch up on some rural Cambodian life.


I really, really want to go there with you wal!

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