Friday, December 15, 2006

More on Cambodia

My second day in Cambodia was dedicated to shopping – and that was part of my work! I thought the idea rocked…I can only envy all those people who are professional purchasers. I mean, I don’t envy people who are purchasers for things like cables, electric switches, plugs, wires and the like. Uh huh…I don’t really want to go deeper into this so back to original topic…..

So we first went to this very nice looking bookstore. It was big and air-conditioned, with uniformed salespeople who spoke fairly good English. And it was expensive – I mean, much more expensive than the Landmarks and Crosswords of India. It was quite a surprise for me – I thought everything in Cambodia was dirt cheap since it was such a poor country.

However, what exists in Cambodia is extreme inequality of income. So while some stores, services and areas run on a dollar economy and are as expensive as in the US, there is the other side of Cambodia which is quite cheap, for the many poor of the country.

This was borne out by our visit to Toul Tom Pheng (also called the Russian market because of the large number of Russians who used to frequent the market in earlier years). It’s a little like Paalika Bazaar…..its like a maze of alleys filled with tiny little shops selling everything – souvenirs, clothes, footwear, bags, local handicrafts right down to fruits, flowers and vegetables. And there we went hunting for mementoes for the AGM (that’s why I am in Phnom Penh – to conduct the Annual General Meeting).

The Russian Market is a place for great bargains, provided you are gifted with the ability to haggle. The shopkeepers knowledge of English is limited to phrases like ‘hello lady’, ‘I give you best price because you are my friend’, ‘I give you best price only because I like your big eyes’ etc. This knowledge is enough to let you have a good haggle before you settle upon a price that both of you are happy with. Things I would classify as ‘must buys’ at the Russian market:
o Scarf – Khmer silk or Cambodian silk is quite famous and these silk scarves and shawls are rather pretty and quite distinct, apart from being reasonably priced. I’m now wishing I had bought more of them.
o Chinese tops (shirts) – I don’t know the term for these but they are attractive Chinese style tops which I’d recommend buying because you don’t get them in India and they are perfect wear for a nice dinner etc
o Handbags – very different, haven’t seen that sort anywhere else

Anyways, after finalizing on the mementoes we went on to a big supermarket and stocked up on American goodies – I mean, the place had all the American food stuff and all. The best part was that I got to stock up on Oreo Cookies and Pepsi Twist. Hurray!!!!!

And finally ended the day with a trip to Wat Phnom. Now Wat Phnom is a temple built upon the place where the city of Phnom Penh was supposedly founded. It is a Buddhist temple but the temple architecture shows a strong Hindu influence – for example, the two statues depicted as guarding the entrance closely resemble Hindu gods – the influence is quite strong. However, I found Wat Phnom rather unimpressive, possibly due to exposure to the much grander temples here. And the picture in this post is the entrance to Wat Phnom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can try visiting the ankorwat.

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