Kitni Haseen Hai Yeh Duniya!

Cambodia is a beautiful country with beautiful people. There is poverty everywhere and that is obvious as soon as one gets out of the airport. On the other hand, the city of Phnom Penh is booming and that has created a huge disparity between the rich and poor. I have seen more Lexus SUV's in Phnom Penh in one day than anywhere else.

I get stared at everywhere I go in Cambodia. They look at me and smile, and I smile back. I think Cambodian girls are very beautiful. I'm somewhat of a novelty for Cambodians - brown people are a rarity in this part of the world. It is also safe to just walk around - people are always smiling and are friendly.

It is very hot and humid here so tuk-tuk's (rickshaw) are a great way to get around. I hired a tut-tuk to take me all around Phnom Penh today. The tuk-tuk driver was the same guy who had dropped me off to my hostel from the airport. He was good so I got his phone number and called him this morning (Monday) to take me around.

There are lots of tuk-tuk guys near my hostel, but most are sleazeballs. Some have asked me if I wanted drugs; others have asked me if I wanted "bum-bum" (prostitutes); but the worst was a guy who offered "very small" Vietnamese girls. Man, who the hell do these guys think I am?! It is sad, but true, that many foreigners come here to sexually exploit children. There are also a lot of "massage parlours" in Phnom Penh. As tempting as it is to get an one hour massage for only US$1.25, most parlours are really "fronts" for brothels. Even from the outside one can clearly see women lying on the bed in suggestive poses.

My tuk-tuk driver was the only one who hadn't made any "offers" so to speak. He was a young guy, recently married and with a 2-month old son.

I went to a lot of places today. The Royal Palace was very nice. I also went to the Killings Fields where the Khmer Rouge buried (some alive) many Cambodians in the 1970s. Mass graves were found at that site. S21 was another place that I visited where thousands of Cambodians were imprisoned and murdered. One should not come to Cambodia and miss seeing these places.

Later I went to a shooting range where one can shoot anything from a revolver to an AK47. I think even rocket launchers and grenades were on the "menu" (literally!). There were some Chinese tourists there sitting on a table - one guy was smoking; another was taking semi-automatic hand guns, machine guns and a revolver out of a black bag; another guy loaded all of those weapons and put those on the table. Those guys looked like the Chinese mafia and it was a bit scary to be around there with the way they were staring at me. One guy then proceeded to shoot an AK47 - it is extremely loud! I decided not to shoot any weapon - it's just not my thing :) I could have shot 30 rounds (1 magazine) of an AK47 for US$40; or 1 magazine of a Rutger gun for US$12.

I'm just hanging around Phnom Penh tomorrow (Tuesday) and then heading to Seam Reap on Wednesday.

What else? Travelling alone is interesting. Write to me!

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