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My Rant

by Robert of California

The girl at my hotel is so nice and kind. She's one of the good ones. I don't have the heart to return to my room this quickly. I don't want her to ask my why I am back so soon.

Cambodia sucks. I can't wait to get out of here. Just a few more hours so no big deal. I arrived yesterday via boat from Choa Duc. When I checked into my hotel I told them one or two nights. But, it's just gonna be one night. What a hassle this place is.

I am a frequent visitor to your site. Because of you I visited Ba Chuc via motorbike and spent a few fascinating days in the Mekong Delta. I think Vietnam is great, and as I have since my first visit to Hanoi three years ago, will encourage my friends to visit.

Cambodia on the other hand, I as I have since my first visit to Siem Reap a few years ago, is a place I will tell my friends to avoid at all costs.

The girl at the hotel told me to visit the Presidential Palace after breakfast as it closes at 11am. I arrived at 10:40am and was told I canot enter as they close at 11am. I showed them my watch and said I want to go in and understand I will only have 20 minutes. The two men outside were taking off on motorbike for whatever and since I protested they they told me to og talk to the lady. I went to the ticket booth and the lady behind the counter also told me it was 11 and the palace is closed. I showed her my watch and said 20 minutes is enough time. But, by this time she had her handbag and told me it is too late as she ventured off.

Actually, I didn't really give a shit. But, I wanted to be able to report to the staff at my hotel that I saw the Palace and was impressed. I felt bad as she wanted to know why I spent a week in Nam and two weeks in Thailand but only a day in her country. i am 33 and since I began traveling to Asia in 1999, I understand I am lucky to be American, 6'2" and white. I am so thankful I am not a Cambodian. That may sound horrible but it is the truth.

I can't walk more than a few steps without getting pestered by the motorbike guys. I am not the experienced traveller like you, but have been to se asia 10-12 times so I can hold my own. I blasted past the touts at the pier when the boat arrived. Unfortunately I wasted some time trying to find the right hotel. I was gonna stay at your spot, but after a few days inthe Mekong, I needed to treat myself to a modicum of luxury. I ended up at the Amanjaya overlooking the river for $75 a night. The hotel and staff are both great.

I wanted to see if the Inter-Continental Hotel far from the pier had a corporate discount I could take advantage of. I used to work for Sumitomo Bank in NY and travel with business cards to get discounts sometimes. I had a guy drive me thre. The question never ceased. His suggestions never ended. Ultimately the the inter-continental didn;t have a discount for me so I went to the Amanjaya I found in a brouchure. At the end I wanted to flip the bird to my driver. But, I got where I wanted to go for a fair price, although hge told me he was poor and wantede another dollar. He also asked me 10 fucking times about a ride to the airport. Each time I politely said no thnak you.

I quickly learned after a stroll that I wanted out so I told the staff just one night. I will be in Cambodia for less than a day. Back to BKK....

Before my walk to the Presidential Palce I decided it would be best for me to wear my headphones so I could pretend not to hear the touts. Funny thing is my batteries were dead. After I was rejected at the Palce, I got on a motorbike and went to the genocide museum.

As I told the staff at my hotel, I am more interesting in history than a palace. But, I think she wanted me to go so I did try. She is probably proud and wants me to say good things to my friends about her country so she does her best to steer me towards some culture, sadly, even if it is crap it is better than suggesting i get a girl or boy or drugs or shoot guns.

The genocide museum was extremely subpar. One item of note - I would have liked to have seen the movie, but they only had two show times for the 50 minute film. 10am and 3pm. I arrived at 10:50 so no luck. In saigon the propaganda film at the reunification museum restarts immediately at the conclusion. And it was fascinating. Why can't they just replay it over and over?

The reunification museum in nam also includes a guided tour, but I would have to pay $3 on top of the $2 entry fee - no thanks.

While the museum had a bunch of photos, I think it might behoove them to have more written placards, maybe in chronological order. There is so much to learn about this time. The idea is to presevre and teach so A) history will not repeat itself and B) generations to come will know what happened thier ancestors. The Museum could do a much better job teaching people about the period. I'm not sure if you've ever been to the holocaust museum in DC, it's obviously got a lot more money, but, it's just so much better. I think Cambodians could do so much more with this exhibit even with thier meager resources.

By the way, I've read the book stay alive my son - wonderful reading - i learned more about cambodia and the killing fields from his account than any other source. if u can recommend a book about cambodia and it's history that u really enjoyed, please refer it to me.

Well, I think I've killed enough time writing this note. I can safely go back to my room and hide from these assholes without offend the kind staff. I know they are poor. I have no idea what it is like to be hungry. But, as a tourist, who needs it? I'm off to BKK for another 10 days or so. One day in PP is enough.

I feel bad for these people. The disparity of wealth is unjust. Now, I'm begining to understand your displeasure with the UN and NGO's. So much of it is a waste. It makes me sick to see a Range Rover with a USAID sticker on the back. The corruption and nerve of thieves across, not just se asia, but the devoloping world makes me sick. I read in the economist mag about algeria. thier are 20 people worth over $100 million, 8 of them, gov't employees. crooks everywhere (including my conutry ie enron)

hope all's well and keep up the good work on your site. thanks for the helpful info on nam. southern cambodia is out of the question for me. i'm outta here.

A footnote - While settling my bill, I had three 1000 riel notes. I used two of them to help pay for my room. The nice girl made sure I kept the cleanest bill as a souvenir. She even went so far as to exchange the 1000 riel note for two brand new 500 riel notes.

I wish her the best of luck.

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