First Impressions of Cambodia

Posted: September 29, 2008    Categories: Cambodia

  • I walk out the doors of the airport and expect the normal rush of people trying to sell me crap and offer me rides. Something seems fishy. No one is trying to sell me anything. I get handed a flyer and a guy who looks official tells me I can save $5 by taking a motorbike instead of a car. Not only are they not selling me stuff, they are trying to save me money. Very odd.
  • The few people I’ve met so far speak English better than most people in Thailand, even those who cater to tourists. Pretty much everyone under 20 can speak English quite well I’m told.
  • The ATM machines dispense US Dollars. Everything is priced in US Dollars. Transportation seems expensive, but rooms are pretty cheap. The local currency (Cambodian Riel – KHR) is one of those incredibly inflated things where you have to have a stack of money. $1 = 4,100KHR. The symbol for the Riel is like a heavy metal half note.
  • Before I leave Cambodia, I’m going to shoot a machine gun.
  • Siem Reap is less developed than anything I’ve seen in Thailand. It seems on a par with the Philippines and Indonesia.
  • There is a huge lake and wetlands nearby, which I wasn’t aware of. You can get from here to Phnom Penh by boat, which I just might do. Much more interesting than a bus.
  • I’m going to look into visiting the Temple of Preah Vihear, which isn’t too far away. It is an ancient Hindu temple which was the focus of a brief border conflict with Thailand about a year ago.
  • Due to its colonial history, Cambodia has French as an official language. Outside of government signs, it is nowhere to be seen. I guess old people know it, but never have reason to speak it. Sort of like how Portuguese was treated in East Timor and Macau.

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