Phnom Penh – Day 1

I booked a ticket using Air Asia online which on first glance looks pretty cheap but once you start adding all the fees up, fuel surcharge, taxes and so on – the actual price is about twice what is quoted online. Oh well. Including the landing fee of 20 USD make things look a little less like a discount trip but better than taking the bus. On a sidenote my guess is the US dollar peg in Cambodia must be killing them right since effectively with the ongoing slide of the dollar the Cambodians are getting less then they intended. Everywhere you go when it comes to Government stuff the prices are fixed to the US dollar. This can’t be good for them.

On arrival I happened to have an old passport photo on me and used that along with my crisp 100 bill to pay for my 20 tourist visa. This is similar to Indonesia where you pay 20 USD on arrival for a visa. Frankly I think it is a little rich but given it is mostly real-world tourists going to these places I am sure it is no big deal. The guy did not like my 100 bill and asked for change but I stood my ground. I needed some smaller bills and this was the only way. I have to admit using some Thai baht to buy US dollars at the BKK airport was mildly satisfying given how many dollars the baht buys these days.

Visa done and I grabbed my bag and headed to get a taxi. I ended up using the 2 USD motorcycle taxi option. The weather was cool and I had a small bag so it seemed more economical. Worked out fine. I was planning on heading to the Walkabout hotel since I had emailed them for a room but given they never emailed me back I asked the motorcycle guy what he thought. He said the Walkabout was too noisy and that I should stay somewhere else. For the record on Walkabout Hotel – I first emailed them to inquire about a room and I never got a reply. Then I used their contact form and got an automated reply saying they would contact me in 12 hours. No reply. So then I emailed their reply back to them to see if I could confirm a room. No reply to my reply. I also checked my spam folder. Personally I hate entities that have a website but are poor in responding to customers who use it. So while on the motorcycle I remembered a hotel from before and told the guy to take me to Billabong Hotel.

When you search for Billabong Hotel on the net it is a pain in the ass to find their site but it is http://www.thebillabonghotel.com/. I stayed at this hotel a few years back and loved it. Cambodia is just a little too dirty and chaotic at times and I like staying where I can escape it all for a bit. Billabong is just that place. Close to the center of action, walking distance to Walkabout and Shanghai Bar, but in a nice oasis of calm. A great swimming pool, awesome food, small but nice rooms and very good service. Not the cheapest place, 30+ USD a night, but that includes a great breakfast. This where I stayed this trip. The guest policy here is pretty relaxed given they assume there are 2 people to a room. My only comment would be that doing the walk of shame in the morning might be a bit much depending on the guest and who is hanging by the pool in the morning. However I don’t think it is too big of a deal.

Before I moved to Thailand I lived in Hong Kong/China for almost 4.5 years. During that time I traveled extensively all over Asia. One of the reasons I chose Bangkok is because I feel I can live here, have businesses here and can basically hit on all cylinders at once in the same city. I still feel that way so I don’t assume that I can go to a place like Phnom Penh and have a better time than I do in Bkk. I am not into looking for the cheapest booze or the cheapest girls anyway since I don’t equate cheap with the best experience. Given all this I was hoping to check out some new places, scout out some locations and relax a little bit.

Once I had finished business for the day I hit the town to see what things were like. During the day I used the cafe, Metro Cafe I think, that is adjacent to the FCC Club on the main road. They have good coffee, sandwiches and WI-FI. The WI-FI is not free but the place was comfortable and had access to power. I think the WI-FI was 2 USD an hour. I saw some other places with WI-FI but I did not check them out.

The first place I hit was Shanghai Bar on 51 street. This is the closest thing PP has to a beer bar experience as compared to Bangkok. There was some pretty girls in there and the food was okay but not amazing. I bought some ladydrinks and chatted up the girls. I was impressed with how many knew a little bit of Thai and English. Thai and Khmer can be quite similar so I was picking up some words and bantering around enough to enjoy myself. As for the girls – there was just a little too much attitude in there for me. Some expensive ST/LT quotes and a general air that they were just a little too good for people. Given that I did not find them more beautiful than the Thai girls I am used to I did not bother to barfine.

From there I cruised to 104 street. This is a small street with some similar beer bars. I stayed at Rose Bar for a bit and bought some drinks for a girl who was pretty damn hot. Unfortunately she was all business and wanted to talk money and ST. Turned me off. I was looking to hang and maybe have some hottie show me around. From there I headed off to Sharky Bar. FYI – the food looked pretty good at Rose Bar and I could see myself heading back for dinner and hanging out.

Sharky bar is a large freelancer bar and pool hall. I had been there years ago but for some reason never connected there. I had a few drinks and chatted up a cutie who turned out to be way too young. That is the other issue I have with Cambodia. I am not there to find the youngings but I notice that a lot of guys are. So when I am sitting in a place like Sharky and I look around to see the Farang couples staring at me like I am some ped and I see the other scary looking old guys trying to find the youngest piece of meat this side of the Mississippi, I lose my desire for pulling. The whole scene just feels to much a like a bad day at Soi 7 beergarden. I bailed on Sharky and went to Martinis.

Martinis is another well known freelance place that is similar to Sharky but probably even darker. It has a big outdoor area, a couple of bars and a small disco. It also has the worst pool table in SE Asia. I hear the food is okay but I did not try any. I was hoping to find some VN girls but I did not. I ended up hanging in the disco for a bit since it is a total zoo. The weird dudes, the ladyboys and the mix of girls is quite the scene. I connected with a local girl who spoke flawless Thai and used her to connect with a couple of her cute friends. Made for a better time given I could chat with them through her. Later on I took one of her friends home. A little local spinner.

Once we got back to my hotel she decided to tell me how old she was. Way too young. I gave her some motorcycle money and went to bed. My bad. Bummed but such is life. I had another night to go!

26 thoughts on “Phnom Penh – Day 1

  1. Even in bkk it is scary when it comes to taking a girl that is young looking. Twice, I have considered bar fining an attractive young lady only to learn after asking for an id that she is 16 or 17. Last time the mamasaan was standing there with another lady, and when they realized I knew how to calculate her age from the Thai year, they started with the aaahhh sound and told me not to say anything. I felt sorry for the 16 y.o. girl. I have also had some lady’s tell me it’s no big deal since the police don’t care. I care! I may be a bit of a pervert but I am no ped, and I want to be legal if I ever do bf. What is the legal age in Thailand – 18 or 19? Maybe this should be another topic.

  2. I *think* this is the long and the short of it:

    1. At 15, she’s legal as long as you get her parents’ permission. Even if you managed to get this, you’d probably be expected to marry her.

    2. At 18, she’s fair game without parental permission. I believe that this is also the legal age for prostitution, even though prostitution is illegal and therefore doesn’t exist in Thailand…

    BUT:

    3. She is supposed to be at least 20 in order to work in a bar.

    Rule 1 is enforced pretty well, assuming the parents find out. Rule 2 less so. Rule 3 hardly at all.

    As bar owners, I’m sure Smitty/Pmmp can give us the low-down, but those are the rules as I understand them.

  3. MSB and MM: As a foreigner living in or visiting SE Asia countries, anyone under 18 is too young. Age of consent laws are applied differently to foreigners than for local citizens.

    Shanghai has lots of cute and personable ladies, but they are paid very well for Cambodian standards ($50 USD monthly plus $1 for each LD, and have little incentive to go ST/LT with customers unless they really like the customer or he compensates well over local standards. One Shanghai girl used to work the Soi 7 BG / Gulliver’s / Nana Disco circuit in Bangkok.

    The Khmer girls in Street 104 bars (and all venues) generally seem more business-oriented and serious than their Vietnamese counterparts.

    Surprised Sharkys and Martinis had ladies on the younger side, as the many of the ones I saw on my last couple of visitss have been around there for several years, and are well into their 20s. No IDs in Cambodia, so ages are hard to verify, and often the lady will quote you an age based on what she thinks the customer likes.

    I stayed at the Billabong when they first opened several years ago. Nice room, swimming pool, and poolside restaurant. However, popular for NGO types, who may frown on guys parading dates up to their rooms. Coincidentally, I believe the same guy owns both the Billabong Hotel and Walkabout.

  4. bbb and dj got it right together as far as I know. The most important one as DJ states:

    “Age of consent laws are applied differently to foreigners than for local citizens.”

    You basically apply the Thai laws as bbb points out and then apply your country’s laws on top as long as the ages are older than the ages in the Thai laws. For instance, if your country’s laws state 21 you should abide by that. If your country’s laws state 14 apply Thai laws.

  5. I can confirm that under 18’s work in some cowboy bars. I have met two such girls.

    1 girl just had a fake id card and had to pay extra money to the police to overlook the fact that it was fake.

    Girl 2 said she paid extra money to the police to be allowed to work.

    Both were girls that i met in the bar but did not bar fine cos i thought they were young. information was revealed after partying after hours with them and after a significant amount of chatting up in Thai.

    the moral of the story is to check id cards, and if you’re presented with a laminated one or one that looks like it could be easily forged… think twice. most thais now should have the new id cards complete with all information in english. the slightly older version, which is all in thai is kind of hard to fake and easy to spot a sake if you’ve seen a few real ones. the older laminated ones should be very suspect.

  6. cambodia sucks. its lika d grade version of bangkok or a c grade version of ho chi minh. food is shocking and so are some of the prices there. i think the ruling junta or people there seem to deem their country to be worthy of riping tourist of in USD. basically i dont think its worth the money for what u get in return.

    my preference, if on a budget is hcm. easy pulls, great food, worth what ur spending.

    heaven is called bangkok!

  7. @limmy: It’s a year since I was in Phnom Penh, but I had a fantastic time and found it so cheap as to be practically free.

    Hot Khmer or super-hot Vietnamese girls in the bars went for $10-$15 short-time. Hotel room cost me $15 a night. Awesome French restaurants charging maybe $5 for dinner by the river. Draught beers for $1, etc etc.

    Ripping off tourists? Can’t say I agree…

  8. Regarding the age of consent in Thailand. Nobody here suggested that it isn’t applied to Thais, but someone might be forgiven for thinking it was written between the lines. Don’t make that mistake.

    My Thai ex-girlfriend got pregnant when she was 16. The fatber was a 23 year old Thai man. When her family found out about him, they went beserk, had him arrested and he ended up in jail. I’m not sure the length of the sentence, but it was more than a year.

    Thais take underage sex very seriously, even among their own. As a foriegner, you’ll get no sympathy anywhere if caught, so be careful to avoid it.

  9. @ww, I think you’ve been in Thailand too long?? You state the “Thais take underage sex VERY seriously, even among their own” and that the father spent 1+ year in prison, but in the US and other Western countries, your scenario would have been a statuatory rape felony punishable for 10+ years. That’s VERY serious, IMO.

    Or, maybe you were just comparing it how things work in Cambodia… Not sure.

  10. @jb: is this serious enough?

    Ex-senator jailed 36 years for child sex abuse

    Thailand’s Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s verdict by sentencing former deputy speaker of the Upper House to 36 years in jail for having sex with four underage girls six years ago.

    Chalerm Promlert was accused of having sex with four schoolgirls aged between 13 and 16 at a motel in a Bangkok suburb.

    not sure me-self

  11. @JB: Actually I said I didn’t know how long he spent in jail… could have been 20 or 30 years for all I know. My point in the 1+ year was to say that it wasn’t a ‘slap on the wrist’ of (say) 30 days, but a serious sentence. When my ex was telling me about it she was in tears so I wasn’t pressing for every detail.

    In any event, I personally wouldn’t want to spend even 6 months locked up in a Thai prison.

    My advice stands… stay away from minors in Thailand.

  12. I love Phnom Penh. My pattern is always the same: get off the plane, drop my stuff off at Flamingos Hotel, and make a bee-line for a nice, fresh, warm….

    …bagel. The one thing that can be said for French colonialism: they left behind a lot of good bread. Decent bread is one of the things I really missed, living in Bangkok, so I really dug all the great bread in the cafés of Phnom Penh.

    Then I ride around town on a motodop, to the waterfront, to the Central Market, and to the single department store for a bit of aircon. For some reason I can’t pinpoint, riding around Phnom Penh makes my spirits soar (I’d like to have used a less mushy metaphor, but it really applies here – something about that town just blisses me out).

    The bargirl scene is admittedly lame compared to Bangkok, but the girls are more fun if you find them at the dance clubs. I agree with BBB on Sharky’s. Almost all the women I ever saw there are at least double the legal age. Martini’s is a pool of hungry sharks in miniskirts.

    The National Museum is cool, as is a $10 boat ride to see the Vietnamese fishing village across the river (Guide: “They’re Christian.” Me: “Really? Why?” Guide: (rubs fingers together) “Christian church gives money.”). Never went to see the Stacks of Skulls.

    Took the Happy Pizza dive once. A little too weird to get deliberately disoriented in a town where things can go very wrong, very fast.

    The Biggest B*tch in the World works behind the glass at the Thai consulate.

  13. @bbb and others… I was not looking for the legal answer, i just wondered what the guys out there are thinking. In the old days it was hard to find a girl OVER 17 and 14 was considered the minimum acceptable age.

    Times they are a changing…..

  14. So, you meet a 15 y.o., get her parents permission, marry her, take her back to the US for the honeymoon, and end up spending long time with Bubba in the nearest prison.

    Anyone messing with a minor deserves what they get in the end.

  15. I’m guessing that anyone able to get a visa to the US for his 15-year old bride will be clever enough to avoid prison, unfortunately.

  16. What’s the latest on Gary Glitter?

    He better hope that he doesn’t get turned over to the UK to carry out any of his sentence…

    After all… what self respcting hardened convict would turn down the opportunity to do ‘Gary Glitter’ up the ‘Garry-Glitter’?

    😈

  17. The story about former senator Chalerm Phromlert getting 36 years is on the front of today’s (er, now yesterday’s) Nation. He IS doing time. The story is about him being taken to Pathum Thani prison after the Supreme Court UPHELD his 36 year jail term. Furthermore, he was first found guilty in 2002 and got 16 years for statutory rape. When he appealed, in 2005, they added an extra 20 years for molestation. So I think it’s pretty clear he IS going to do time, as an example at least.

    He’d messed around with 3 girls under 15 and 2 over 15.

    I have to agree with limmy about Phnom Penh. I went there just a couple of weeks ago and it sucks. Five and six years ago it was redeemed by the large number of cute Viets. These have now largely evaporated and the place is full of crappy little bars full of dark skinned Khmers usually with one kid. It resembles a miniature Pattaya but without the gogos and spicy food. )-:

    The whole city is changed – 5 years ago there were no ATMS and even the main roads were dirt. Now nearly all avenues are tarmacked, ATMs abound and there are even shopping centres springing up.

    NGO types maraud the streets and hotels and there are plenty of the sorts of poncey shops that female farangs love. Along the riverside, I even noticed a ‘Cookie Boutique’, ffs! All the choices feel more sanitised. They’ve sucked the fun out of it for mongers.

    Another thing – just walking around, you don’t get the same looks and flirts from Khmer girls, even though it’s a poorer country with fewer farangs. They just aren’t as warm as the Thais.

  18. This story appeared today in THE NATION newspaper:

    German paedophile jailed 4 years eight month

    The Criminal Court Friday sentenced a Geman paedophile to four years and eight months in jail for having sex with two Thai girls under 13 years old.

    Jorg Rudol Fiedle, 43, was found guilty of having bought sex from the two girls at the Natural Beach Pattaya Hotel in November 2002.

    The court initially sentenced him to seven years in jail by commuted the jail term by one third after he confessed having bought sex from the two girls.

    The man appealed against the ruling and was detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison pending the Appeals Court’s decision whether to grant him release on bail or not.

    The Nation

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