Reflection of 2 weeks in Cambodia
May 2013 I was again 2 weeks in Cambodia. As said I have a kind of love & hate relationship with Phnom Penh, so I liked it to be back again in chaotic Phnom Penh with 24hr/day street-life going on and the slow but chaotic traffic of motorbikes, TukTuk's and cars. Cars .... used Cambodia to be the country of Camery's the last time I was there the trend for Lexus and Toyota Land Cruiser was set. And that trend has continued with Range Rovers, Hummers and many other expensive cars. And not only in Phnom Penh but also in Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri the trend was showing. Of course this is only for the very upper-class of Cambodia as there is almost no middle-class the rest of the Cambodians are still transporting with motorbikes, mini-van's, TukTuks, some pickup-trucks, bus and even the wooden ox-car.
Life along the riverside in Phnom Penh is not representative of life in the rest of Cambodia or even Phnom Penh but I like the good Asian Fusion restaurants with good wine, nice bread, good steaks and perfect service. Just wandering of in the small street of the city does show another life. A life of poverty, a life of the have-not's. A life of a huge cap between poor and super rich. A life like the real Cambodia is. Not much touched by western influence.
Visiting places like the Russian Market, Art street, Central Market and the National Museum give you again another insight of the cultural knowledge from a history before the Khmer Rouge and further. The time of the Greater Khmer Kingdom with beautiful art, wisdom and buildings delights only Khmer did manage in the region.
Traveling up north .... what happened to the 'intense and remote jungle"? It seems that Cambodia is eaten alive by China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan. And that most of the profits are going to a very select and very small group of people. Look it is sad to see the jungle gone, but can "we" blame the Cambodian people or even the Chinese or Vietnamese people? Have a look what "we" have done in Europe, nothing is left from real nature in Europe. So I think I am not in the right position to blame other people. But what is now happening seems as vert short term greed.
Despite the disappearing of the jungle the north is still a beautiful area to visit and full of adventure and culture. Although I am wonder about 10 years from now. So if you want to see and enjoy the wonders of the north go rather now as later. Friendly people, beautiful women and beautiful rivers. Not much touched by western influence.
Cambodia is rapidly changing ... for the better and the worse. Infrastructure is becoming better by the month, communication is on a high level, traveling is becoming easier. A trip that would take 3 years ago a few days can now be done in 1 day.
Cultural I noticed something weird. There seems to be a big part of the Cambodian people who are not very well forthcoming. Not clever at all .... actually I would say amazingly stupid. Sorry sounds weird but I have seen people doing things that are really on the borderline of super stupidity. And not once or twice but many times. I would all blame this to the Khmer Rouge who killed all people with a bit of intelligence. Then there is another group of people in Cambodia, mostly working in hotels, restaurants, businesses who are very forthcoming. Very professional, very good in communicating, very straight forward. Something I am not use to anymore since living in Thailand for 13 years. Is this Vietnamese influence? Next time the coast line .... beaches!