The Japanese guy I met in Nha Trang (Vietnam) told me Cambodia was about three "G"s: Guns, Girls and Ganga (probably in order of importance). Phnom Penh certainly had plenty of all three. You can fire an AK47 (30 bullets) for US$17, an M16 (100 bullets) for US$30, throw a hand grenade or fire a rocket launcher for a bit more. It's a major industry that every motor scooter driver will encourage you to participate in. I met a girl from New Zealand who had done all of these and she said it felt great. Everyone who'd done it said it felt great. You can buy compressed blocks of hemp in the markets of Phnom Penh for US$2-3, two ounces of fresh buds or 74 pre-rolled filterless joints for about the same. You can spend an hour with a girl for about US$10 in any way you want. I was going to voluntarily censor this information but I thought I might as well call it how see it.
Then there was the trip by pick-up truck from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. Roads with potholes rolling out of the soft red earth to rise like waves above the upper edges of the tyres, people standing with branches on bridges made from old bits of wood and filled with mud to show which place was safe to cross. Us: 8 people in the cab and an average of 15-20 people standing in the tray of pickups already heavily loaded with goods(fruit, blankets, cooking utensils etc). Dark-skinned Khmer children, often naked, are hunting for fish in ponds and rice paddies with bamboo bows and arrows; truckloads of men in military uniform with rifles; whole families (up to five people) on a single 100cc Honda (I didn't realise what versatile work machines 50cc Honda scooters were until I came to South East Asia).
Tuol Sleng, the high school which Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge turned into a prison and extermination camp during the bloodiest part of their reign after 1975 where some of the 3 million people who died in Cambodia were held before they were taken to the Killing Fields and killed with axes, hoes, hammers and the sharp edges of palm leaves to save ammunition. Artists renditions of the most unspeakable acts of torture I have ever seen being inflicted on people are displayed alongside Khmer Rouge pictures of dead and very-soon-to-die people (try: prying someone's ribcage apart to put live centipedes inside) . The Killing Fields (mass graves on the site where executions occurred): a tower of skulls 16 stories high with still unopened graves trailing off into the distance. My guide explained to me that both his parents had lost their lives during Pol Pot's time in power. Another guy told me that since the time that the temples of Angkor were built, Cambodian culture has been in decline, with less and less enlightened leaders coming to power - Pol Pot hit the rock-bottom all time low.
Gandhi was once asked "What do you think of Western civilisation?" "I think it would be a good idea," he replied. I'm reading a book now (Inside the Third World by Paul Harrison) which looks into he climatic, political, social, religious and economic aspects of "developing" nations. Taking into account what have been in some cases long periods of peace in Asia, South America and Africa compared to some of the bitter disputes which took place in the European continent during the same time, he asks why Europe industrialised before the other continents. He's throwing some light on the situation from some interesting angles.
I visited Angkor Wat. At sunset. There was a group of three one-legged men playing music along a path to a temple which I will not describe because as Elvis Costello once said "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture." (You know what I mean...) There are a lot of people missing limbs and eyes in Cambodia. I've read that every two minutes, somewhere in the world, someone steps on a landmine and I think that quite a few of those people are Cambodian. Why was I not surprised to find that America, in its fine tradition of building up regimes and then using the United Nations as a cover to come back and "reeducate" the society, gave money to the Khmer Rouge to finance their aggression towards the Vietnamese as part of their campaign to harass the socialist government after the America/Vietnam war. (See the Middle East, Africa, Central America or any of Noam Chomsky's books (except the linguistic textbooks) for a range of terrifying examples.)
Anyway...now that I've spewed out my bile and rambled on about Cambodia for a while, I'll let you get back to your life. Final words: Cambodia rocks. Hammocks, old reggae, sunsets and some really Nice people (note the capital "N").