Friday, February 17, 2006

Seven Deadly Reasons Why We Like Phnom Penh

{Women wearing pyjamas in the street (See: ENVY)}

I could go on and on about where the time went in Phnom Penh, but here's a fun little list of things we believe are reasons why we stayed a whole week.

For some reason, it felt sinful to have this kind of time in a foreign city when one knows there's more of a country to see. But our intentions were virtuous and I think there's a bit of honor in traveling with a touch of temperance, don't you? :D

{SLOTH] = Toilets are most everywhere -- and most even have pale pink toilet paper. Truth be told, the constant squat can make one overwrought!

[GREED] = The US Dollar ($) is the de facto currency -- no kidding! Here, we understand how much we're spending, and how cheap it is! (Cambodia has its own currency, the Riel, but it went to hell with the Khmer Rouge and somehow the dollar emerged as stable years ago. Geez, have we seen some ancient dollar bills!)

[PRIDE] = Cambodians drive on the left, pass on the left and we look right when crossing. Now, that's a system we can master with confidence. It's so easy being a pedestrian!

[ENVY] = Women wear pajamas in the street!!!~> read more

 Again, not kidding. And, I don't have mine with me! We don't have a clue about how this came to pass but it's completely normal to see Cambodian women and girls out in the street working, selling, walking, shopping...and all wearing two-piece cotton pajamas sets complete with piping and pockets, and with floral, Hello Kitty! or sleepytime bears cutting Zzzzzzz's on them. It's hilarious. I'm bitter I don't have any with me. And, why isn't this a viable fashion option in the States?

[GLUTTONY] = Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) that make you feel good about eating and spending. Because of Cambodia's horrific past, NGOs and the UN have a strong presence here and are trying to help the country make good in this new era of hope and tourism. Many opened restaurants that assist local street children, artists, impoverished mothers, AIDS victims and more by giving them jobs, education, skills and such in the food industry. You just feel good eating at these places and it's so great to know that when a sweet smile on a young teen made your meal all that more enjoyable, your extra tip...of maybe only $1...makes a big difference in their lives. Plus, on a selfish note, the NGOs are run by a wildly international staff of volunteers so each menu involves foods that ex-pats desperately miss in Cambodia and include so much, much more than rice.

[LUST] = Kampot black pepper and squid salad. Outrageous, original, pure yumminess! Kampot is a southwestern province in Cambodia that grows exquisite black peppercorns which are salty, zingy, zesty and smoky. So much more than any grocery-store black pepper. In fact, Kampot pepper was a delicacy for French tables during the mid-19th century, but the Khmer Rouge period wiped it out as an export in the 1970's. However, and thankfully, you find it locally and when paired with grilled squid, fresh mint and basil, lemongrass, ginger, chilies, lime, crushed peanuts, lettuce and sugar, you have something special! (and yes, I'm now thinking it might be interesting to become a Kampot peppercorn grower and exporter!)

[ANGER] = No taxis...just moto taxis! Which means a scooter carries three adults at wild angles here and brings new meaning to "Look, Ma! No hands!". Not to be a car-loving American, but this was unexpected. Actually, this means Andy is thrilled and not angry, as here it seems "practical" for us to rent our own. But while this means there are far fewer cars to dodge when crossing the street, we did have to call our insurance company and cajole, then pay to increase the policy to include "hazardous coverage" since we can't get to and from major destinations or arrival points without riding a moto.


Blogger jskalet said...

you are such a creative writer.............i'm finding you and agent!!!!!

10:38 PM  

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