Phnom Penh

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Cambodia

Flying in to Siem Reap Int. airport (e-visa requested to buy in advance for Austrians, whereas Laos visa could be obtained upon arrival on the airport) from Luang Prabang was fun. The airport there is super-modern in comparison to the tiny one in LP. That obviously derives from the main tourist-attraction just a short Tuk-Tuk ride out of town: the temples of Angkor. We’ve seen a lot of UNESCO world heritage places so far, but Angkor Wat undoubtedly counts to my personal favs.

Besides all the tourist-buzz, like pub street with hookers (and/or/including ladyboys), annoying tuk-tuk drivers and the every now and then well performed tourist-scam, this place is the second poorest we visited this summer (after Laos) with a GDP (PPP, not nominal) of around 2.500 $/capita yearly. This is slightly better than Laos, but not much. On the other hand Laos did not seem as impoverished as their neighbors. Furthermore they obtain high infrastructure investments from big brother China, as capitalist China wants to close a certain trade gap between the people’s republic and Laos.

We saw poverty in Laos (we spent one afternoon in the floating villages) as well, but it was not as shocking or obvious as in Cambodia, where you could spend tons of USD on postcards or souvenirs that are offered by perfectly trained little kids.

Nevertheless, Cambodia has more economic support by rising construction, textiles, tourism and recent natural resource occurrence that could trigger further foreign direct investment and thus bring in money. Agriculture, on the other hand, is still the paramount industry for Laos, accounting for more than half of the GDP.

However, Cambodia’s economic growth is comparable to the one of China within the last 10 years which leaves hope for the further development of the country and the potential creation of a solid middle-class to easy up the social gap.

Don’t really know why I’m writing about the economic stuff rather than touristy stuff. Ups, yeah I forget to tell – I’m fed up with sight seeing already.

A little overnight bus-ride from Siem Reap took us to Phnom Penh, the political, economic and cultural capital of Cambodia and home to countless NGOs trying to fight poverty and bad education. It’s definitely a charming city (besides one grim afternoon in the s21 genocide museum and the killing fields), as a group of friends there we knew through other people made our stay there so much more worthwhile.

Thanks again to Anna, Caroline, Sweetie and Phirum, for introducing us to the excessive nightlife of PP – we had a blast and we’ll never forget our experiences there. Anytime you have the chance to visit the equally charming city Vienna – we’ll be your hosts 😉

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