Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Things I don’t like about Cambodia

Okay. There are so many things to love about this country. And there are a lot of really important things to hate – like corruption and poverty and injustice. This post s not about those things.

Here are a few insignificant things that bug the heck out of me. I mean, after three weeks, I literally have no heck left in me:

The traffic
It’s not sheer numbers of vehicles that gets you; it’s the insanity of the drivers and the constant fear of killing someone that really does you in. After a half hour on the road, I need an hour-long nap to sleep off the stress.

The internet
Or lack thereof. It takes literally hours to download an OS update. Don’t ask me why I’m downloading an OS update. I just am. And it’s taking at least 10 times as long as it would in the States. And the internet ‘cafes’ are little help. Half of them are so infested with spyware, hacks and viruses that it’s an act of faith or folly to type in your password. Half are currently experiencing service outages. The other half won’t let you plug in your laptop, and yet another half are plagued by gnats.

Drunk expats
Can’t you get drunk at home in Holland?

Laundry service
I really should have packed more underwear.

Language barriers leading to uncomfortable silences.
(Smiles. Says “Thank you…I don’t understand.” Smiles.)

Just give me your best price. Please? I don't like this game. I always feel like I've lost.

Our street has gone dark at least 15 times since I arrived. Apparently this never happens in neighborhoods where rich government officials reside. Add to the darkness three flights of steep stairs and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Lack of decent coffee
Working on this one.

Big, ugly SUVs
The ultimate status symbol, a Cadillac Escalade literally costs $130,000 to buy in Cambodia, thanks to a 100%+ tax on luxury cars. These are usually driven by government officials who – on paper – make $600 per month. You do the math. Speaking of government officials, check out this quote from today’s ‘Cambodia Daily:’

“Police have arrested an Interior Ministry official for allegedly firing a bullet through the window of a Polish diplomat’s car while attempting to shoot a fruit seller outside Phnom Penh’s Chaktomuk Conference hall, police said Wednesday.”

Everywhere. And when it’s not dust, it’s mud.

I’ll write a bunch of things I love about Cambodia later. I’m running out of battery on my laptop, and there are no electrical outlets in sight. Add that to the above list…


Anonymous said...

when you coming home? i thought it was the 22nd? bleh, i forget.

anyways, check on your ipod to see if you have the video of me recording you singing when the kids were eating dinner. for some reason I dont have it here, although it may be on jeffs computer and we missed it..just want to see if it is on your ipod?

- Jordan

Mindi Lannon said...

Hang in there John...and Allison...John you've been through this before......and Cambodia is in your blood. :)