THE enterprising Brit who bought the stretch Mercedes that was allegedly used
by Pol Pot during his tenure in Phnom Penh - the one that was discovered three years
ago when it was being used to store watermelons - is still for sale, but offers have
been slow to arrive. This comes as a surprise as the initial asking price was only
Peace and stability, however defined, has opened the gateway for all kinds of visitors
to the Kingdom. One white, long-time resident in Phnom Penh was standing on the street
trying to flag down a moto. A Japanese guy, looking somewhat like an aging samurai
with a well-cropped pony tail, came along on foot. The two started chatting. The
Japanese guy introduced himself by saying, "Watashi-wa gei. You know gei? I
like the boy. Ano, Phnom Penh, have boy?" He then made that universal signal
with his hands that indicates the urge to merge, while asking "You understand?"
When the Barang shrugged his shoulders, the gentleman bowed slightly, said "Arigato",
then "Sayonara," and ambled off down the road on his mission in the Kingdom.
An "A" for effort goes to the female PROTEK security guard at the Siem
Reap airport departure lounge. One passenger who had gone through customs decided
he had time for a smoke, so he headed back through customs only to be told politely
with a smile that this was a no-no. He persisted with a smile, and when the customs
officials shrugged with a smile, she finally relented with a smile.
The chorus of grumbles from expat regulars along the riverfront over the Sharp and
Suzuki neon billboards across the river have dwindled to a few muttered resignations,
as have the plans for a global boycott of the two company's products. One determined
protester did voice his concerns directly with OMC. After he purchased a roll-tape
calculator he boldly declared "I don't like the signs". The woman behind
the counter, without even looking up, responded "Everybody else does!"
Politics can make strange bedfellows, but it can do even stranger things to the notion
of who is your friend. In the recently released study Democracy in Cambodia, one
of the questions posed was: "Suppose a friend of yours supported a party that
most people did not like, would you accept that, or would it end your friendship?"
Fifty-eight percent of the respondents answered that they would end the so-called