Saturday, November 18, 2006

Gone South

Phnom Penh - Buddhas, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

We have made it down to Sihanoukville, on the coast south of Phnom Penh, named after the former King who was so prominent in Cambodian politics for so long. Its real name, Kompong Chon sounds a lot nicer.
It is a large-ish place with a container terminal tucked up in the northerly part and about seven white sandy beaches to choose from.
It rained when we entered the place and it rained again just now, but we are only a couple of minutes from a long thin beach, staying in a guesthouse owned by the bus company and full of people who had come down here on their buses.
We asked the motorcyclists to take us to a different place, but they, earning commission, no doubt, brought us here first. It looked nice enough, but we made a point of looking for/at the other place - Serenity. As it happened, this place was on top of a hill, along a bumpy dirt track and was locked behind a large and tough looking gate, so we came back here.
Visiting beaches in thrid world countries can be a bit trying and here we came across touts for parties,. motorbikes, tours and the like, beggars who were missing limbs, the massage women and so on. All this whilst spolit Westerners like ourselves can lounge around drinking beer and eating cheap food and listening to their dreadful pop music, which thay can download onto their i-pods at a place called the Boom Boom Room, at the entrance to the beach, next to the internet cafe. Boom Boom means Bang Bang and it is what most of teh motorcycle riders offer you once it starts getting dark. As a variation they might offer Yum Yum, which is a variant of the former. If not interested they will telll you that they are beautiful girls and then, if still not interested, that they are beautiful young girls. In the meantime there are Western NGO subsidised adverts warning that child sex is illegal and that one can be prosecuted both here and abroad, urging people "not to turn away but to turn them in". I suppose I half expected to see middle aged Western men sitting on the beach with their young friends, but it seems as if they have to be a lot more subtle than that nowdays (thank goodness).
Anyway, we have a our shack, complete with (virtual) airco, some fans and a sattalite TV where we can follow the Premier League, the Masters Tennis (good news about Henin-Gardienne last week)and the news that the Dutch Parliament again seems to want to ban the burqa. The strange thing is that they also say that the centre right are due to win the elections next week.. that's was not the case when I left, so what changed, I wonder? And how can so many people feel comfortable voting for Balk-ellende?
It is teeming with rain here, causing some flooding and a nasrty smell to appear - I am hoping that the sewage system is not over-flowing. But how incredible to be here, at the end of Cambodia, next to the see, in the middle of a tropical storm, writing away on internet? Amazing.

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