Back to the future
Tomorrow it will be a case of Good Morning Vietnam as I board a bus from here in Phnom Penh to the city of Saigon. I leave Cambodia with mixed feelings about the place. It is pretty much as I expected it to be with the associated highs and lows of Third World travel.
Angkor Wat, the largest religious site in the World and World heritage site was certainly impressive but no more than Stonehenge. I was more impressed by the friendly local people I met while cycling around (the way to go rather than a tour bus or tuk tuk in my opinion!).
I suppose it is the people of Cambodia that will linger longer in my memory than anything else.
The brown faces of the sweet grubby little children will be etched long in my memory, longer than the temples or pagodas.
The thing that strikes you here is that there are a large number of foreigners, both expatriates and tourists, as well as rich locals, and the truth is that we are all very well catered for. There are top class restaurants and shiny boutiques then barely yards away there is a whole family, semi-naked on a piece of carpet sleeping.
It’s enough to put you off your creme brulee! (eyes rolled)
So after a few weeks the whole scene can become a bit depressing. The ray of light is the friendly and smiley nature of the Khymers. Even the evil, Biff-like Tuk Tuk drivers can be funny and charming (as well as intensely annoying).
I would urge people to visit the Kingdom of Cambodia as it is rapidly changing and working hard to catch up with it’s neighbours of Thailand and Vietnam. It still has a long road ahead.
So what does the Socialist Republic of Vietnam hold? I am kind of expecting a futuristic Cambodia where the rich have grown richer and the poor have stood still.
When I cross the border tomorrow it wont be in a DeLorean, but I will, in some way, be heading back to the future.