Back in Bangkok and the curfew has been extended to 11 or 12pm or something by now. I take 2 of my friends and and go to Nana early. I go to Angel Witch again. Get pretty fucked up as usual. I have a chat with the Manager. After, I ask mamasan for two bi-girls down for a threesome. She points them over. I know one already as Pim from a previous encounter. I take two girls, Dun and Pim? Cant remember if Pim is the right name still. Dun is small with light hair and has a snaggle tooth. Pim, has blondish hair with braces, and fake titties. My boys grab girls too. I’m getting a bit jealous cause one of my boys gets a new hot young girl that I think has outdone my 2, but whatever.
I just got back from a few days of biz in the Cambodian capital. I have always done Cambodia on a budget – cheap flights, cheap hotels and cheap eats. This time it was 5star hotels, drivers and nice dinners. Not saying it made a huge difference but it can make life a little easier. There has been a lot written about the hostess bar crackdown, the lack of the viets and so on. I can’t really tell the difference and I am not the hardcore monger always searching for the cheapest beer or the cheapest shag. My rule of thumb is you get what you pay for and if you want VN girls why not just go to VN?
Continued from Part One
Nice Riverside Cafe, Phnom Penh
Day Three, 12:00
‒Would you like your eggs scrambled or fried?”
‒Have you seen The Athlete yet today?”, I asked The Heckler.
‒No. Let’s check his hotel after breakfast.”
“How was the Heart of Darkness?”
Anonymous Hotel, Phnom Penh
Day One, 18:30
“Yeah, that’s fine”, said The Heckler.
There were no windows. Just the door through which the three of us peered, along with the awkward, smiling concierge. A plastic door led into a minimalist bathroom, on which more later, and there was a small television set at the end of the double bed. A bedside table, a fitted wardrobe, a desk and chair, and a tired pair of flip-flops completed the fixtures. Not luxury, but perfectly acceptable for $18.
“So we’ll take this room, and we’ll need two more like this one”, I said to the concierge.
“Two more? You want three rooms?!”
I’m not sure whether the concierge’s incredulous reaction to the fact that these three barangs (Thai: farangs, Eng: western barbarians) would not, in fact, be sharing a double bed said more about him, or the quality of guests attracted by the hotel, but the poor chap looked shell-shocked when he realised he’d have to dig out another couple of keys.
As I had quickly learned on my first and second days in Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s third most-popular city is a great little beach resort but a bit dull as a P4P destination. By my Day 3, I’d come to the conclusion that making another run out to Victory Hill, or anywhere else besides the beach and the Freedom Bar, was going to be a waste of time.
So I made some decisions: First I booked a day of scuba diving that would require me to get up a 7 a.m. (and, thus, go to bed early and alone the night before) and then bought a bus ticket back to Phnom Penh, where I’d spent the previous Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Then I decided to hit Freedom Bar again, but – this time – earlier. It would turn out to be the best nightlife move I’d made all week. Continue reading
It was clear after the first day in Sihanoukville that if I wanted to fully enjoy my planned week in Cambodia’s beach resort, then I’d have to switch into conventional-tourist mode, at least part of the time. Clearly, the nightlife alone wasn’t going to be worth it.
So, during the days, I did my best soak up the beach, go snorkeling and scuba diving, hit the local market, eat, sleep, watch too much TV and try to relax after a stressful, uninterrupted four months of work. But when night fell on my second night, I set out on an aggressive plan to see what fun I could find off the beach. Continue reading
While my just-completed three days in Phnom Penh had always been on my to-do list, my real interest in escaping to Cambodia for Songkran was to visit Sihanoukville, a beach resort that everyone who’d been there said was great, and one that everyone who hadn’t been there said they’d heard was great. I planned a week there. This is a tale of how good, and how frustrating, “Snooky” can be. Continue reading
If you’ve ever experienced Songkran in Pattaya, you’ll know why I can’t stay there during the Thai New Year any longer. I did parts of all of three Songkrans and that was enough.
For the past two years, I spent Songkran in The Philippines, splitting time between scuba diving on various islands and drinking myself into oblivion in Angeles City. But spending that week in Angeles is like being in Pattaya: The bottom of Fun Town’s sexpat barrel seeps into A.C. like a sewer backing up. I don’t want to spend time with them here, so I’ll be damned if I’m going to hang with them there.
So this year I thought I’d try something new, and less expensive: Cambodia. I’d never been anywhere except the border so, inspired by Bangkok Bad Boy’s three-part opus on Phnom Penh, I decided to spend a few days in the Khmer capital and then relax for a week in Sihanoukville, a place few have been but many say is good. This is a multi-part tale of my 2009 Songkran Escape. Continue reading
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.
Folks. Heading to PNH for a few days. Booked what looked like cheap cheap flights via Air Asia but don’t forget the fuel surcharges, the Farang tax, the whatisthenameofthatairport tax and throw in a few baht for the finish the City Terminal tax and suddenly it does not look as cheap as a I thought. However. I have a few days free and wanted to get out of dodge. Given the power of the community I thought I would check in with people before I go and see if I can get any pointers and tidbits.
There is no need to go looking for sex in Phnom Penh – it comes knocking on your door. In my first 15 hours in the Cambodian capital, I was laid twice without leaving my hotel room. This town makes Bangkok seem like the Bible Belt.
I was gagging for it, it has to be said. I had not had any horizontal activity in Bangkok for three weeks (yes, that is possible) as I headed to the airport with my travelling companion Big Mike, a veteran Californian sexpat. My agitated state was not helped when all three Thai AirAsia stewardesses were porn stars, as they always are. By the time we landed in Phhom Penh, I was a danger to stray dogs.
“Oh no”, say the Americans. “Our dollars are worth jack shit. Thailand should devalue the baht, or we won’t be able to afford to go long-time any more”. Of course, the dollar’s been depreciating against every other world currency too, which doesn’t help.
Anyway, it’s a bad time to be selling US dollars – as visiting Americans must, in order to purchase Thai Baht. Conversely, and rather obviously, it’s a fantastic time to be buying dollars. And, as luck would have it, the prevalent currency in already-cheap Cambodia is indeed the good ole’ greenback.
Just a year ago, US$10 was about ?400. Today, it’s a little over ?300. And you can pick up a cute Khmer or Vietnamese freelancer in Phnom Penh for US$10. That’s full sex for half the price of a Bangkok barfine. So if you’re earning baht (or just about any other world currency that isn’t tied to the dollar), it’s a great time to visit Phnom Penh.
Getting there from Bangkok is trivial by air, and is even doable by land if you’re saving those nickels and dimes – although I wouldn’t recommend it. I stayed in a hotel near the river, where simple but decent-enough rooms went for $10 to $15 per night. Draught beer is far more commonly available than in Bangkok, and generally sells for $1 a glass. At today’s exchange rate, that’s about ?30.
The Wild West of South East Asia
A friend once said that Thailand is a country for those of us who either can’t or won’t cope with life in the Real World. I’m inclined to agree with him, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. He goes on to add, however, that Cambodia is for those people who can’t even cope with life in Thailand. He’s got a point.
If you thought Thailand was a little cavalier when it comes to enforcing the law, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Cambodia isn’t exactly lawless, but it’s not far off. Head out to Thunder Ranch, a firing range run by Cambodia’s 911 Paratrooper Commandos, only a twenty minute drive from central Phnom Penh, and fire away with a variety of handguns (dollar a bullet), an AK-47 or an M-16 ($30 for 30 rounds, or ?900), or if you really need to blow away the cobwebs try an M79 launched grenade for $100 (?3,000), or a B40 rocket propelled grenade for $200 (?6,000).
Live animals are readily available, if those paper targets get a little dull – from $5 chickens (?150) for small arms fire, to goats and water buffalos for your grenades – these go for $100 to $300 (?3,000 – ?9,000).
Cold beer’s not on the menu, but it is available. What better way to relax than with an ice-cold Ankgor beer in one hand and a machine gun in the other?
Head out to the market later on for some shopping, and you’ll find the live hand grenades on sale between the bread and vegetable sections. Cambodia is seriously messed up. I saw a posting on a website recently where an ex-pat defended Phnom Penh as being much safer than it’s given credit for. “Bodyguards are cheap enough”, he said – “what’s your problem?”
Girls, girls, girls
I couldn’t live here. It’s insane. But a long weekend is perfect. Sharky’s bar is full of 8-ball and 9-ball pool tables (pictured above), cheap beer, and swarms of freelance girls (one pictured above). It’s maybe a 60/40 split between Khmer (Cambodian) girls and Vietnamese. The Vietnamese chicks find it much easier to work in Phnom Penh than in Vietnam, and the locals prefer their lighter skin. The Khmer girls are more familiar-looking to fans of Thailand’s own sisters of Issan.
Most girls were asking for US$20 for short-time, but expected $15 and would often settle for $10. Being “yung and handsum” may have helped here, but even if you pay the full $20, it’s only ?600 at today’s prices. ?300 if you get them for $10.
After the first round of the evening, move on to (relatively) nearby Martini’s, where there’s a disco, more pool tables, an outdoor restaurant, and a big projector screen for movies. And hordes more girls, of course. Motorcycle taxis, tuk-tuks and songthaews are everywhere. Taxis are not. Most journeys cost a dollar, maybe two if you get ripped off.
I only scratched the surface during my visit. The problem with freelancers in Phnom Penh, as in Bangkok, is that you’ve got no recourse if they steal your stuff. Be wary.
It’s a problem that can be avoided by visiting one of the karaoke clubs or hostess bars. But you’ll pay way more for the privilege. I didn’t see the point of doing so, so can’t report on them. There are no Bangkok-style gogo bars, but there’s apparently a BJ bar called Sophie’s Club. I didn’t find it.
The local brothels, catering to Cambodian men, are of course far cheaper than the western-targetted industry. As a tourist though, you’re never going to get away with paying local prices. The motorcycle taxi drivers will know the local scene, and their spoken English is usually way better than their Bangkok equivalents. They’ll be in for a cut, of course, but when it’s this cheap, who cares?
The Dark Side
With firearms so freely available, there’s always going to be trouble. The Heart of Darkness bar, where Westerners have indeed been killed by Khmer gangsters, now features a reassuring metal detector by the front door, where customers are frisked for weapons. The gangsters avoid the issue by entering via the side door, of course.
The two main freelancer hangouts, above, apparently check the girls’ ID, and are generally safe environments in which to pick up 18+ year-old girls. Other venues are not. The infamous Svay Pak area, also known as K11, was closed down after NGO pressure a few years ago. The effect has not been to stamp out underage prostitution though, but to move it from one easily-avoidable place to the inner city.
Secret brothels above shophouses abound, apparently. I saw a heavily dolled-up girl of maybe twelve years old being led down the street by a minder early one evening. I don’t think she was being taken to a beauty pageant. The touts will ask you if you want “young lady” or “small girl”. It’s here, it’s deeply unpleasant, and there is nothing you as a tourist can do about it. Make a fuss, and you’re likely to get into some very unpleasant trouble. Turning a blind eye can be difficult, but it’s the only safe option. Just say no, folks.
Phnom Penh can be fun. Drinks are so cheap that they’re effectively free. Even the girls aren’t that much more expensive. It’s a wild, wild place though, and you do need to watch your back. Life is cheap here, and the less pleasant members of society could quite easily get away with murdering you if they were so inclined. Don’t encourage them.
I couldn’t live here. Some people do, but then some people live in Hull too – there’s no accounting for taste. But for a long and dirty weekend, especially with the current exchange rates, it’s amazingly affordable hedonism.