After having "breakfast" at 9am, which yummily consisted of chicken fried rice, morning glory and noodles, Kit took me on quite an intense tour of Phnom Penh. A traditional tuk-tuk brought us all around town - to the Royal Palace, the Genocide Museum, the mall, the market and some other local sites. The brutal history here, a combination of the Vietnam War and a wannabe holocaust lead by General Pol Pot, is quite horrific. Every single living Cambodian has scary stories of the past to share, yet it does not particularly show in their eyes, which are hopeful and happy. It's very humbling to see people conquer the struggles of such a burdened history with an optimistic eye. It puts many things into perspective.
The city is definitely alive and the traffic is anarchic. Sometimes a family of 4 ride on the back of an old motorbike, more often a tuk-tuk U-turns in the middle of the wrong side of the traffic. It's the law of the jungle in this town and of course street lights and road signs aren't apart of its landscape.
There are no shortage of street vendors selling food and snacks, postcards, and other various things and here and there you'll see an old man or lady carrying a scale, trading a few riel to people who want to know their weight. There are plenty of exotic fruits (as well as smells) and the streets are fairly dirty, but overall the city does not feel threatening and its people are extremely nice and humble. Taking a photograph of a kid or a monk is well received and it seems westerners are quite appreciated.
We went through the clothing and jewelry market to check out all the goods and I bought a North Face backpack for $9! WTF - Paragon Sports owes me 90 bucks... Kit took me to the top of the mall, which was awesome, not only because it had AIR CONDITIONING, but because at the very top I got to snap some shots of the rooftops of Phnom Penh, something that isn't very easy to do here as there aren't hardly any high rise buildings. There was a rollerskating rink at the top where the local teenagers claimed as a hot spot. It was crazy cool! It had ramps in it and a couple of the kids were doing some bad-ass skating and falling, worthy of a good ol' American lawsuit...
We took a tour of the slums, which were pretty hardcore, but I didn't feel that they were as bad as they were in India by comparison. Here, there doesn't seem to be a huge gap between the rich and the poor - it seems much more homogenous in general. Poor, but homogenous.
This evening, Kit, Ream, Courtney and I tuk-tuked to the other side of town to grab some dinner at a Westernized sort of spot, but I had a local curry dish and a banana-pineapple-coconut smoothie. Was quite good and now I AM EXHAUSTED and ready for BED.