A Travellerspoint blog

Still in Phnom Penh

and, although my camera is almost full, still no decent internet connexion or PC to even bother trying to post them...

Written on April 29...
Ok, first of all, a clarification to a previous entry, about beggars and my saying no to them. That's not entirely true, as starting..well, very long ago, as far back as Vancouver, but more in Hong Kong and Thailand, I have given food (I never give money because you don't know what theydo with it, but food is, hopefully, eaten.) to people passively begging on the sidewalk. Instead of throwing away a left over, I'll always give it away. Same with if I have fruit or peanuts or other snacks in my bag, I'll give them happily to someone who clearly needs it more than me. I have done this countless times and a few people I have travelled with have noticed and remarked on it (I thought everyone did this too, but apparently not...).
The problem with here in Cambodia is that 1. They are very pro-active (I would say agressive, but not in a violent way) in their begging, which I find difficult to cope with, and more importantly 2. there aren't nearly as many little snack stands here, meaning that I don't snack as much, and am much hungrier when we finally find a place to eat, and eat everything on my plate. As a result, no snacks in my bags, no left-overs and a $12US/day budget make it very difficult to give anything away. (The original $17/day had to be brought down after buying the visas)
It's really not as if I just want to keep it and splurge on myself! We are currently staying in a $1/night dormitory, and my meals cost about $2each, +Internet fees (up to $.75/hour, $.40 where I currently am) so that leaves me with about $3/day for entrance fees to visit sites (I.e national Museum today was $3 to ge in, so technically, anything other than dinner tonight will make me go over budget). Tomorrow is looking worst, as we will visit 2 sites (killing field and genocide museum) which each charge $2 entrance fee + a tuk-tuk ride will be required (we just walked today) for as much as $4each, so I'm pretty much certain to be over budget then too. On top of it all, Lonely Planet made me feel even worst by noting that it's Buddist tradition to give to people who have less than you....technically, that encompasses almost every Camdbodian!!!

Anyway, all of that to say that I feel very bad about seeming so greedy (which I know I am, but not to that extent!!!) to locals, but it's not exactly as if I'm floating in cash either. I think I would feel a lot better if I could give as I want to, but I'll have to leave that to the people who are here on shorter vacations, or who are at least going back home to work (=make $) as opposed to study (=no earning potential, and massive costs). I think the main killer for me is the fact that everything here is in $US. In Thailand, I had 600B daily budget. It's much more pleasant to manage than 12$!!! For that reason, I deal in riels as much as possible ($1US=aprox 4000 riels, a meal from a street vendor will be approx 3000riels).
Anyway, enough ranting about money, but it's definitely something that's on my mind a lot more these days than for the past couple of months.
Last note to this topic: Cost of living here, as you can see from the numbers above, is crazy cheap!!! If I was here with decent (aka normal) amounts of money for a normal vacation, I could live like a freaking queen!!!

Quicknote on the begging kids at Angkor Wat. They are quite good at what they do. They generally engage coversation by asking where you're from, and many of them are able to recite facts about Canada (i.e population 32M, capital Ottawa, very cold) !!!!! Impressive!!!! I didn;t expect that and it took me a second to realize what the first kid who did this was saying!
Off topic but related to Angkor Wat: Today we visited the National Museum and got to see many many pieces that were originally taken from Angkor what. They really should be returned,as they are clearly missed there. Seeing them in the museum

Back to Phnom Penh. It's no where near as nice as Thailand. I desperatly miss the fruit stands (in Thailand, there are fruits stands almost everywhere, where they sell good portions of cut mangos, pineapple and melons for 10-20B) and the general goodness of the food. Traffic here is comparable to Bangkok (aka completely out of this world crazy and seemingly orderless) except that there are a lot more motorbikes than cars. For example, to turn left, whereas we put our signal (most of us) and wait for an opening, here they don't signal at all and simply start driving in the oncoming lane, honk their horn several times and cut people to turn onto the street or wherever they want to go!!!!! (Note: they drive "on the same side" as us, which is weird after over 2 months of "the other side"). They also use their horns for everything (aka telling others that they are there). On the 5hrs bus ride from Siem Reap to here, the driver was on it almost all the time! Whether to get a cow or dog to move out of the street, warn a car from the oncoming direction that it was in it's lane, passing a motorbike and/or any slower vehicle and/or any little town we passed. I wondered what he would do if the horn died! hehehe

Final note on Cambodia for now: Every afternoon around 4pm, there's a dust strom (it's probably only a dry season thing - we're at the end of the dry season = the dryest possible time - everything is dusty and you get covered in it no matter what). We actually came to this internet place to escape the storm! The first one occured approx 10 minutes from walking through the border, we were like "OMG!!!"
Well, that's that for now! Tomorrow is looking like a pretty grim day.

Posted by Mistrale 02:20

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