Well... If I could compare Saigon to a vivacious young whore, and I think that I did earlier on.... Then Phnom Penh is a grand old dame... But just as confused as everyone else around here! I've had Kmer meals served up with good South American Salsa music, Danish 3rd division football results on Cambodia national TV and seen 4WD Lexus' coming down on PP streets so filled up with garbage, street kids and landmine victims that it was hard just to walk through....
But like her younger sister, it's thee place to get lost! For a weekend, a month or a lifetime! A secret love affair behind wooden blinds, where the big fan tiredly pushes the hot humid air around and around, in old derelict french colonial villas, hidden from view by overflowing Frangipani trees and mosquito infested lily ponds. Sneaking out to watch the sunset at the Foreign Correspondents Club overlooking the lazy Tonlep Sap river, while wasting time chatting up pale, old Expats, who seems glued to their seats there, with their shades on - night and day!
I suppose that every nation that has had to customize them selves, to cultures foreign to their natural DNA, more or less by force, has always found a way to implement this foreign 'masse' according to their own ways and byways?! I've seen effigies of Lenin and Marx hanging right by the door of 'The Louis Vouitton super store' in Saigon and here the quite a few Catholics believe in luck and has somehow dispelled with the Roman guilt trip!
Did I say I like this mind blowing place? The only trouble is being a woman and therefore not quite safe to wander alone as the clouds - after dark!
But I have done my bit of wandering during daylight hours! Had my healthy breakfast at a NGO place for Vulnerable Women and Children, which means they have been trafficked at some point, worked as prostitutes until rescued.... By then they probably have AIDS/HIV and are in any case shunned from their homes and families! Cambodia is the country in Asia, that has the highest number of HIV infected!!! Which is not surprising, given the high number of UN soldiers an NGO's in this place.... The same thing is happening in Afghanistan, just as I'm writing. But Afghanistan being Muslim, they deny it completely and thus creating or rather letting the disaster unfold!
I have done some shopping at the Russian market, where I also had my weekly 2 USD pedicure! Today I've opted for red nails with golden glimmer - As a tribute to the Chinese new year about 4 months ago - well, that's what my toes look like anyway!
After all this very tiresome and hard work, I took my 1 hour massage at "The seeing hands" parlour! It's blind people who works there and they are normally pretty good! Today it was a youngish, pregnant girl named Truc. She had lost both her eyes due to a landmine as a kid. I floated away in her strong hands just until she started to stifle one yawn after another..... Then we both couldn't wait for the hour to finish.... I'm still danish at heart!
To celebrate I had a coffee and Calvados at the Foreign Correspondents Club, watching the thunder and lightning bolts come rolling in from the Tonle Sap.... It never really got the show of going and after last night, where a tropical storm kept me awake for hours, I'm spoiled for light shows.... I then decided it was time for a much needed siesta....
Had dinner at at Kmer place down the road from the Guesthouse and I'm now sitting here in the lobby, eaten alive by B52''s- Big huge mosquitoes out to do some grief! Suppose I'll scramble up my 4 flights of stairs. to my room with a view and Spanish television amongst 89 other interresting Chinese, Corean,Italian, French, Cambodian, Hong Kong and American HBO channels.
It's a bit weird though, not having talked with anyone since Saturday... But everybody is pretty wrapped up in their own little circles.... And me being past the childbearing age, I'm only really visible to the Tuk tuk drivers or others trying to make a buck! I'll stay for another day and then head out for Siam Reap and Angor Wat for my 50' birthday and the day after, the 5th year anniverary of Amadeu's death;17 th of June.....
This was a long sigh of relief from a bit lonely and weary traveller..... Now, I still haven't said a word about the sounds and the smells and all these endless impressions, that is blasted in my face, every time I open my eyes..... It's like doing the Louvre or the MoMa turbo style... My eyes and my head's ready to explode about the time I get to see my pillow at night!