Phnom Pehn so far sucks.
Not that i’ve given it much of a chance yet having just arrived and then went for a walk along the riverfront when it’s raining, during the nothing time of five thirty and seven and when much of the riverfront seems to be under construction. Still, one should be able to come to some kind of conclusion from looking at the garish collection of expensive western restaurants (on the prime riverfront area), nasty looking girly bars (with names like Up n Down, 69, DV8, Masterly Palms, you get the idea) and the even nastier looking massage parlours along the side streets.
And then there’s the people – the occasional homeless family, landmine afflicted begger, tuk-tuk and moto drivers, travel agents – actually they’re all mostly fine. It was the tourists that got me. I’m not sure if it was the time of the day or just me being overly picky but there seemed to be more of a type of really dodgy western male tourist around – dodgy enough that they seemed to be rejects from the sleazier parts of Thailand.
They were so dodgy that I gave one of them US$3.
I’m not actually sure if it was a genuine plea for help or not but my instinct for humbuggery fine-tuned by India was saying it was a scam. Australian guy in his forties, said he was from Canberra but looked like a well-turned out druggie from St Kilda, stopped me on the street and pulled this long story about having had his bag rifled through on the bus, losing his credit card, money and camera but fortunately having kept his passport found that he could get money transferred over from home via Western Union. If only he had enough money to pay for a phone call. Plus he hadnt eaten since yesterday.
He seemed as desperate as the guys I used to meet in Smith Street who wanted spare change for a ticket home. Still, us being in Phnom Pehn and all and him being a fellow Australian, I felt like I had to give him the benefit of the doubt.