I had long wanted to return to Cambodia to see more than just Angkor Wat. Finally, five long years later I had my opportunity. With three weeks of leisure time between my annual visit to Nepal and a flight back to the United States, I teamed up with Larry Bosco, a friend who also had Cambodia on his radar, and we boarded a plane to Phnom Penh.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. From my earlier visit to Siem Reap I knew that Cambodians were eager to adopt Western dress and capitalism, yet I’d also heard that Phnom Penh was the juvenile prostitution capital of the world. Early the next morning we met in the hotel lobby, eager to begin exploring the city. I barely noticed the underage girls in short, tight dresses and high heels, slouching around a big wooden table in a dark corner of the lobby, but Larry did. “I think there’s more going on here than just a hotel business,” he remarked casually as we stepped out the front door and into a blast furnace.
Waving away persistent moto-rickshaws, we strolled past stores stocked with silks and upscale handicrafts, chatted with temple workers peeling vegetables on the stoop of a Wat, checked out the Royal Palace for a later visit, and ended up in the heart of downtown. A never-ending stream of motorcycles, rickshaws and bicycles flowed through the streets. Women in pajamas, the only clothing considered cool enough in the oppressive summer heat, bargained for the day’s food at stalls lining the street. Monks Continue reading