First Day Around Phnom Penh
Trip Start Nov 08, 2006
209Trip End Ongoing
There were so many other things that made an impression. First, the heat. It's pretty hot in Cambodia for most of the year, but we had read in our guidebook that, during the month of May, just before the rainy season cools things off some, Cambodia is particularly "furnace-like." Oh, goodie. But it actually wasn't as bad as I had expected
Also, we immediately noticed the drastic change in the skin color of the people. Even though they are located at about the same latitude, the Cambodians are far darker than the Vietnamese, who make such a habit of covering up. But for having such dark skin, there were a lot of Cambodians who had surprisingly light hair. Various shades of auburn were quite common. The combination was striking, and I found the rich and ruddy tones quite beautiful. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos.
On a sadder note, we also noticed, within our first afternoon walk, that Cambodia has the largest disabled population we've ever seen. I'm fairly accustomed to seeing poverty, but this was something of which I've never seen the likes. The majority are victims of the Khmer Rouge landmines. Some are begging. But most are going about their daily lives as best they can. Riding a bicycle or pushing a cart with one leg, or carrying a tray around the neck when they have no arms. It hurt my heart. And the next day only got rougher.