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14 Oct 2001 :: Nope, it's not about flowers. "Iris" is a legend or Romanian rock. Frankly speaking, when I heard them for the first time (well, watched a video clip on the "Atomic" channel) I though there was no such a country in the World where they didn't have a local "Iron Maiden"... [ more.. ]

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[ 26th Jun 2003 ] Pumpsie on Cambodia | 1 comments | leave a comment

Hi, guys. I'm glad to talk to you again on the tunes of our radio. Today it'll be about the guy whose name you must already know well from one of the previous posts here. Mr. Pumpsie Hobergoffer with the help of some extracts from our e-mails with him will tell you about his impressions of Cambodia, the country where the majority of us will never get to. Anyway, believe me, it's worth attention.

Greetings, Konst. Sorry for the delay. I went to Cambodia for six days on a visa run. Boy, talk about third world! They don't even have ice cream there! (at least, not in Koh Kong)

> But I suppose you saw something new there. Does it
> differ much from Thailand?

Very different. Really third world, meaning dirt roads everywhere. There were very few foreigners there (probably because they're scared of SARS) and I felt like I was in a goldfish bowl. Wherever I went, everybody would stare at me. And all the kids scream "Hello!"

It's hard to find milk there, or tofu, or other things I'm used to. But it's an interesting and spooky place. At night the place is very dark, very few street lights. Cambodian women are very nice looking and very available to a westerner with money. Cambodian men are not so nice, but that's true of men everywhere--they just ain't as nice as women.

I went out to the "Chicken Ranch," which is the only place to go really at night, which is a red light district out in the middle of the woods down a long spooky dirt road where they have beer and girls available for personal services at very cheap rates. I went strictly for research, of course. It was quite depressing as I learned that it was all run by the police, who are run by the mafia, and that the girls were virtual slaves, in what is known as "indentured prostitution." And that they really can't get out, because the mafia pays $500 to their families and then the girls have to earn it back, but these days there are very few customers, most of the girls don't even get one customer a day, and the ones they do get, at $2.50 to $5 a throw, do not make a dent in their debt. And all their meals and expenses are added back into their debt, so they end up being deeper in debt instead of getting out.

I met a guy who said he had tried to buy the contracts of two of the girls in order to free them, but the mafia policeman who ran the house said he didn't want to sell, because he was making too much money from them. I left with a tremendous sense of outrage that this is legal and allowed to go on.

Looks like in the sole country where the real communism was said to be built (they officially abandoned money), is a really sad place nowdays. As usual, after heading some info, I proceeded with some questions. You can see my questions in the lines which start with > and Pumpsie's comments below.

> Oh. We're the second world here. And yeah, I heard that the
> third world is a total poverty and no fun. Have you ever
> been to such countries before? How did you arrive there?

I went by several buses to a place where Thailand meets Cambodia and went across. Then I had to take a motorcycle taxi across a bridge to Koh Kong Island, something I never want to do again if I can avoid it.
> Agreed with the last sentence :) And the women, are
> they very different from the Thai?

Yes, they look different. Eyes not as slanted. Maybe a little darker. Very different compared to the Lao women, who look just like the Thai.

> Who was the guy? Was he a westerner or a local rich
> one?

He was a big fat guy from New Zealand who has moved to Cambodia where girls are willing to lay him and is running several businesses.

> I see. But isn't he afraid of mafia? Westerners usually don't go to
> such places, because besides the girls they have to deal with mafia
> and crime, and it can be dangerous. How did he deal with the stuff?

Those westerners who thrive in SE Asia and other corrupt places are accustomed to the need to bribe officials and cops. They have accepted that this is just the way it is and there's nothing they can do about it. (I'm not that way, unfortunately. I get angry and try to figure out how to change things, which is usually a hopeless task)

> And beggars? Who do they beg from? Are they only in
> the red lights district asking its visitors for money?

No. It doesn't happen there. People come up to you in the markets or on the streets, making the Buddhist gesture of begging. It even happened to me today at a Bangkok bus stop. One aggressive begger on Khao San Road was sitting right by the door of a convenience store and he was trying to grab everyone who went in. But that's unusual.

> What do you mean by overcharge in Cambodia? Could you please give
> some examples so that I could figure out what's the level at least?
> How much did the whole trip cost? I'd like to compare it with my
> trips from Romania to Chisinau :)

Well, here in SE Asia, it is very common for the locals to try to overcharge the westerners by anywhere from 20 to 500 percent. I mean that when I bought vegetables at the market, etc., I am pretty sure they were charging me much more than the locals, but the stuff was still very cheap, so I didn't care. The Cambodian visa is US $20 if you buy it at a cambodian consulate, but $24 or so if you buy it at the border, where the border guards will also try to hit you with all sorts of illegal surcharges--it is their scam, and those who know about it in advance can be prepared to circumvent it.

The bus trips each way were only about $5 US. The guest houses were only about $4 to $5 US per night. Pretty cheap trip. I think Chisinau probably costs a lot more.

Chisinau.. well, that's the place Pumpsie got interesting about after reading some of my stuff about girls from there ;) Another update is that tomorrow I'm going to leave for Iasi, stay a night there and proceed further to the Moldavian capital in order to see what's new over there and to celebrate the birthday of some great buddy of mine. Let's get back to the mails. Finally, after a bit of further discussion, I asked a question I didn't even expect to receive such a wise answer on.

> Do you think that the prostitution and drugs mafia are into the
> western governments too? I thought they were making money from more
> profitable things, like war and international stuff. But sure, like
> in America if Bush isn't into drugs and prostitution, then someone
> else of a lower level of power should be there.
> Right?

The politicians are having all sorts of illicit sex, even as they pose for pictures in church and denounce sinners. The reason men seek power, after all, is because they want more and better sex. They know that power leads to money, and money leads to beautiful lovers. And they'll kill millions of people to get and hold that power, if it means having more orgasms. Such are the lessons of history that they don't teach you in school ;o)

Pure Freudian theory which myself personally I like a lot. Pumpsie's definitely got a point here. Thank you, pal, for some information on Cambodia. It's a real pity you didn't have any camera with you so that we could have some illustrations, but even without them your report is still an interesting piece of stuff. All the best, and looking forward to hearing more travel notes and observations.

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