I am sending this from phone so a bit constricted. Tomorrow we head to the Cambodian border where we must avoid many scam artists before retiring to a nice hotel on Siem Reap and exploring Ankhor Wat. Once the world's largest city.
...Now in Siem Riep, Cambodia, staying at a resort co-owned by a Canadian midget named Mitch who worked on the Obama campaign in North Carolina and met Barack in Charlotte in 2008! As we were sipping beer and eating dinner next to the pool, with the music of Rolling Stones and The Who ("Tommy") blaring from the sound system, it was easy to think that the Americans had won the Vietnamese/Cambodian war.Outside the resort, however, the dirt roads and shacks of the peasants remind one of the abject poverty of the country. While we were touring Ankhor Wat, a child hid in one of the Buddhist shrines, popped out and asked me for a donation. I gave him a dollar, which may be more than his parents make in a day.
Very strange dichotomy: nice Western resort hotels next to abject poverty of the locals, babies not wearing diapers, some beggars on the street, a number of locals wearing masks to presumably protect themselves from viruses. We're very relieved we got so many vaccinations before we left.
It's kind of like living in a movie. Tourism has definitely raised the living standard of Cambodia, but it's got a long way to go. This is the most foreign place I think I've ever been, close to the poverty I imagine I'd see in India.
Lucia writes: Yes, it's poor, but the people live like hundreds of years ago, Angkor Wat was tops with me, I loved being driven through the jungles with the breeze blowing through the tuk-tuk.
Son Matthew replies: "The masks are a sign of respect, as they are not breathing bad germs onto people. It doesn’t mean they are sick, or that they are worried about germs. It is quite common in many countries in Asia. Also some of them wear it as they don’t like to inhale the fumes from the motorcycles while riding."