The “Home” page is my daily blog. The remaining tabs contain previously blogged, episodic ‘stories’, which are now re-published in chronological order.
This is my third day in Cambodia, and my time has been spent between working on my laptop in my guest house bar/restaurant during the daylight hours, and carousing the bars of Phnom Penh during the night hours.
You will see that I have finally changed the format of my website.
It has not been easy to find a suitable replacement blog format and it has been quite time consuming to transfer all my material into the new format.
I am limited in my choice of new formats, due to my desire to have a ‘custom header’ which I can regularly change, as most formats do not provide this facility.
Then I have had to once again change the colour of my text. The previous pastel colours were especially selected to stand out on a black background, but now that I have changed to an almost white background, I have to change all the text back to either black or dark, strong colours.
I have decided against a minimalist, plain format. After all, my blog is creative, adventurous and hopefully fun-piece of writing and I do feel strongly that the design should in some way reflect that feeling.
Otherwise, it would just appear to be a cold, business-type blog.
So I hope that the compromise format which I have eventually decided upon will satisfy all my readers.
The background is now off-white rather than black and should ensure that all the text is legible on all computers.
I think black text is boring, so I have reverted to my earlier colour system of dark green for my daily blog, dark red for my stories and vignettes, and other dark colours for incidental subjects, such as the comments and answers I put onto my main blog.
This change of format requires me going right back through my blog to day one and changing all the colours and doing some other tidying up to ensure everything is in sync with the new format.
So far I have dealt with all the “pages” (tabs) containing my stories, and the main ‘home page’ blog back to July 30th. I will continue with this ‘back editing’ on a daily basis until it is complete.
So I sincerely hope that everyone is happy with my latest format, as this is the third time I have changed it and I really don’t have any desire to go through this tedious process again.
So far I am quite content with my time in Phnom Penh. It is a nice change of pace and the Cambodians are so much friendlier than the Thais. It is also pleasing to be able to speak to the locals in English and to hold an intelligent conversation.
As ever, the girls are young, very pretty, speak fair English and are much more demure and naive than their Thai cousins. They dress far more conservatively, which makes a refreshing and pleasant change from the naked flesh that abounds in Pattaya. Very few of the ladies have had children. What a contrast to Thailand!
Phnom Penh is a funny, sort of unique place for night life. I for one love it, for a limited period of time. To me the night life here has a parochial charm all of its own.
There are the bars packed with girls in areas such as 104 Street and 136 street, (although if you take a walk in almost any direction near the riverside you will invariably come across a few odd bars plying their trade), which for the most part are patronised by the local working expat community. There are a few ’24 hour’ places, but most bars open at around 6 p.m. and close at 3 a.m.
Then there is the large pub/restaurant called Sharkies on 130 Street that has a huge central circular bar, plays rock music and has a substantial menu of American/Tex-Mex oriented food. The place is patronised by expats, both single as well as those with wives or lovers and the girls there are all ‘freelance’, many of them, Vietnamese hookers.
The last time I went to Sharkies, the Vietnamese girls could be easily spotted by their very scantily clad apparel, often quite outrageous, but this time there was no sign of it. All the girls, Vietnamese and Cambodian alike, were dressed very conservatively in jeans or knee length dresses and skirts.
I have never taken a girl from Sharkies, but somehow they all seem to know me, even though I haven’t been there for nine months and many came over to welcome me back, enquire about my long absence, and of course, try to touch me up for a drink or a meal.
These girls really do live ‘hand to mouth’ and and it has been my habit to choose an older, semi-toothless deserving case for a bit of largess – a meal courtesy of Mobi.
For the past 2 nights I have started out in 104 Street, (where I stay – where else??), take in a few bars there, before maybe walking up to 136 Street , stopping off at a bar or two and thence onto Sharkies for a meal.
After Sharkies, I would take a ‘moto’ up to 178 Street and have a drink or two in “Walkabout”.
Walkabout is a fairly unique establishment. It is another freelance bar/restaurant/hotel/pool-parlour that caters for the lower end of the expat market.
It wouldn’t be unfair to state that most of the expat customers are not exactly rolling in money and many will ‘sit’ on a glass of draft beer or even a bottle of water for hours at a time, whiling away their time and trying to do a ‘Cheap Charlie’ with one of the ubiquitous whores – most of whom have seen better days – that patronise that particular establishment.
Walkabout never closes and I delight in stopping by there in the early hours of the morning and seeing the ‘down-and-outs’; the ‘flotsam and jetsam’ of Phnom Penh. There are the western men – many of whom are backpackers – dressed in soiled, wrinkled clothes with several days growth of stubble on their chins. Then there is the really motley collection of whores – Cambodian and Vietnamese – most of whom have clearly left their best earning days far behind them.
The impecunious expats would squabble with the desperate ladies to drive a deal that will give the two of them a bed for the night, pus a bit of comfort on the side.
Many would fail to cut a deal and would stay at the bar all night.
After a beer or two there I would wander along to a couple of more up-market bars, located on the same street, and where I had some lady friends that I had known for a number of years who were still plying their trade in the same establishments.
Thence to “Heart of Darkness”, Cambodia’s closest imitation of a discotheque, or club for the ‘in crowd’.
This is another experience to savour, not least the ‘shake down’ and body search I am subjected to before being allowed entry by two burly, military- dressed gentlemen, who are always armed to the teeth.
Inside the place is buzzing with loud music and a crowd that seems to have come from all levels of Cambodian society.
Plenty of westerners – male and female; plenty of respectable Cambodian ladies – some with boyfriends and, of course, loads of ‘ladies of the night’, both of the freelance variety and others from the many bars that had already closed for the night.
Pnom Penh is a small town and even though I only spend a week or so in the town very occasionally, it is remarkable how quickly I get to know some of the girls and them – me.
As soon as I walk into ‘Heart’, I would invariably recognise girls that I had seen earlier in the bars or ‘Sharkies’, and even from ‘Walkabout’. It would seem that the entire nightlife of the town treks from venue to venue, much as I do, on most nights in search of a partner.
If I was still feeling adventurous after I had grown tired of ‘Heart’, I would move on to my final destination of the night; a large establishment by the name of ‘Martinis’, located a little further out in the suburbs than the other places I frequented.
‘Martinis’ is another pretty unique establishment. It is part disco, part restaurant, part outside bar, and in part, just a place to hang out and meet people of the opposite sex.
It is known as a very late venue, and rarely gets going much before midnight. Like ‘Heart’, on a good night it seems to attract a very wide variety of customers, most of them hell bent on getting drunk and picking up a sleeping partner. Some of the freelance Vietnamese girls who patronise ‘Martinis’ are absolutely stunning – much more beautiful than their counterparts at ‘Sharkies’ and ‘Walkabout’.
Over the past few years I have spoken to many of these girls and they are very charming and very professional in their approach to their work. I have slept with a number of them and have found them excellent value for money.
So my two evenings back in town have not been boring or disappointing, and once again I am enjoying the local nightlife to the full and also managing to avoid the worst excesses of alcohol.
I try to pace myself, partly by drinking slowly, and also by taking the odd non- alcoholic drink to keep my overall intake under control.
So far so good.