on the other side of the world

Here I am in Phnom Penh, where the motorcycle traffic is fast and the internet connection is slow. I'm here with my father and grandmother, on a quick leg of our journey, basically to see the National Museum, after a great 4 days at Angkor Wat (and surrounding temples). I have pictures I can't upload just yet, but I'll try to do that soon.

Phnom Penh is a big, hot, dusty, hectic city. It's Bangkok without the wealthy elements (and without automobile taxis -- only tuk-tuks, the motorcycle-trailer kind). It's been repopulated very quickly after the massacres of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge; you'd really never know it had happened just from a look at the surface of the city.

In addition to going to the National Museum and the royal palace grounds (with the famous Silver Pagoda), we went to a shopping complex, the Sorya Center, that had been recommended by the lady at the service desk at the hotel as a place to find an electrical adapter so I could recharge my laptop in the hotel room. It was a crazy, hectic mall much like the MBK Center in Bangkok, and -- along with the streets full of motorcycles -- probably gave us the best sense of urban life, at least among the young, in Phnom Penh; there were very few tourists there. It felt a little funny just jumping in a tuk-tuk and asking the driver to take us to a place of whose location I had not the slightest idea. (He was a very helpful and nice driver -- as all of them have been, despite the sense of onslaught when you walk out of the hotel or tourist attraction and they accost you en masse: "tuk tuk, sir?...) Still, though, it's a little weird, having some sense of language and geography in Thailand, and then coming to a place that's superficially pretty similar (the languages are related, and Khmer script looks like an ornate version of Thai script) that ends up being quite opaque, and feeling totally dependent on strangers about whom one knows nothing.

Finally, a portrait of Phnom Penh computer users through the titles of their blog posts (which came up as a menu of options for mine). They're not very diverse, it seems:

Cornerstone Academic College
English slang around the world
ESL Listening Quizzes
From Vietnam to Cambodia
George Lakoff
influence of planting deapth and plant population
king's english
Reading Worksheets
Rob Burvill Cambodia 2004
The Pimsleur Method
Word Games and Puzzles Online from A Game A Day

I'm intrigued by the George Lakoff one, myself. With everybody talking about him in the blogosphere, even as far away as Phnom Penh, I think I'm going to have to read his book pretty soon...


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