Monday, August 16, 2010

Good Morning Vietnam

I was in a plane above the Nullibor when our pilot kindly paused the terrible in-flight romantic comedy to tell us that Julia Gillard was our new Prime Minister. For a split second, I wanted the flight to change its path and head back to Canberra so that I could continue the Survive to Five lobbying adventures in the fallout of the Gillard take-over, but instantly reminded myself that in a few hours I would be landing in Ho Chi Minh City.

The city is a strange one. I don't know what hit us harder, the humidity, or the eagerness of the Vietnamese men to indulge my eyes in some foul erotic gestures before they could be averted. After some well-needed sleep, we went for a long walk through the major downtown area, not seeing anything particular, but soaking up the chaotic vibe followed by a roof-top dinner in District 1. I can't say that I hated it, but when we arrived in Phnom Penh the next day, the city paled in comparison and I found myself complaining about it to other backpackers.

Phnom Penh is a much more enjoyable city, but with its share of challenges; terrible smells, crazy moto drivers and beggars. The first few days were spent visiting all of the major tourist sights, such as the National Palace complex, Pagodas, markets and the more impacting sites such as the Killing Fields and the former school-turned-torture-prison, S21.

Note: My camera decided to stop working, so all of the photos were taken on Leigh's camera and for those who have been watching my facebook, you would notice I am yet to upload any photos of my own. For now, flick through Leigh's photo album. There are some beautiful photos in there, because while urban Cambodia is by no means the most beautiful place, it is certainly one of the most interesting.

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