Monday, February 8, 2010

Arrival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

As the plane hovered over Phnom Penh, my heart started to beat pretty fast. After 4 months of planning and reading and preparing and planning and reading and preparing, I'm finally here! After disembarking the plane, I was ushered to a line to get a visa. It was as easy as 5 minutes and $20. I wish France would take a hint...

It's 90 degrees and HUMID. Probably something like 80%. Mosquitoes already started to swarm into the baggage claim area and I was really hoping I had my little citronella magic potion mixture on me, but I didn't. At baggage claim I already noticed one young woman, who was quite attractive and nicely dressed... and missing a leg. My heart sunk - all the stuff I had read about the dangers of land mine explosions instantly became real.

Kit Carson, a native of San Diego, and his Cambodian wife, Ream, were waiting for me at the airport. They seem like wonderful people, I'm sure this week is going to be a lot of fun. They drove us to the hotel in the middle of the city, the Royal Palace, with a bright neon awning, you can't miss it. At nighttime, everything is pretty much shutdown and dark. By the time I got settled into the room, it was about midnight and Kit told me he would be happy to take me downstairs for a stroll where a massive amount of street vendors were sleeping outside with their fruits and vegetables ready for delivery the next day. He said by the time we make it outside in the morning, most of the produce would be gone. It was a really interesting sight - people sleeping in wheelbarrows, on lounge chairs, chatting, eating and naturally as we were making our way up and down the main street with my big camera and tripod, we seemed to be the center of attention. For one thing I am SO thankful: Cambodians LOVE the camera! This will make my task incredibly easier.

In a way, the general sentiment in the street reminded me kind of like India and how friendly people are, regardless of the fact that I'm trespassing my massive camera into their territory. The men, however seem more approachable and sweet. I came across a dude in a pink Hello Kitty shirt who instantly became my muse, as well as a guy rocking a Subway cap. It kind of bugs me out how the US always has to slide its nasty fast food chains into people's wardrobes somehow or another, even if in 3rd world countries. A couple of adorable little kids were really intrigued by the camera so we had a little fashion shoot.

It's now 5:30 am, I have jet-lag and so I've taken this opportunity to work like any faithful workaholic. I just grabbed the AC remote to turn it down a bit, there are two buttons: "too hot" and "too cool"... That's funny.

Here are some images...

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