continued from here
Phnom Penh is the heart of the new Cambodia. A sprawling, gridlocked city that hides its beauty. We stayed at the Mad Monkey where we met some Dutchmen, smoked a few joints, and ate lunch while watching Judge Dredd.
In the good old days, guys like us would take a tuk-tuk straight to "Lakeside". Lakeside is where everyone goes to get drugs, get drunk, and get fucked (PROTIP: The cake cocaine is a lie. It's heroin.). That was before 2009.
This seedy shithole is now a sandy shithole, as the lake has been filled and development is in progress to rout out the riff-raff. All the fun has scattered with the rats to other parts of the city.
In lieu of the good story that I didn't get from Phnom Penh, I'll give advice instead. If you want to meet other backpackers and have a great time, best to find a busy hostel and stick with it. There are many hostels in PP, and many have their own bars. This is good because if you need a cheap, whore-free place to drink, it's right in your face, but bad because the social scene is so decentralized. If I come back to PP, I'll go hostel hopping day and night to meet new people. Mad Monkey and Velkommen were two hostels on the top of our list, and I was very satisfied with everything about Mad Monkey.
It's hard to remember what I actually did here. I lost my phone. We bought some bogus shrooms, and some mid-tier Mary J. We did a ton of urban exploration and walking up and down the riverside.
At night, we went to a busy nightlife area and took a seat in the courtyard of what seemed to be a night-market of sorts. We ordered the standard 50 cent Anchor draft. I spotted two Chinese gentlemen having a drink nearby and invited them to have a chat with us. They turned out to be Malaysians, and were fluent or semi-fluent in 7 languages, including Khmer. Brett spoke with one in English while I chatted with his friend in Chinese. They told us about how rapidly Cambodia has begun to grow, and what it's like to live here as a foreigner: You get drunk a lot and fuck whores. They even offered to pay for our drinks.
After dinner, we head across the street to continue the drinking. These bars are mostly all the same. Cramped and full of whores, some good-looking, others less fortunate. I judge them to be either semi-pros or just dumb, since they are all too willing to degrade themselves in front of me for free. When the table dancer gets boring, I leave to find Heart of Darkness, the most popular dance club in Phnom Penh. But all that was waiting for me inside Heart of Darkness was more hookers! It hit me that Khmer culture is very prude compared to my own. The only locals coming to places like these are pros and posh, wealthy kids.
Cambodia suffers from South East Asia Syndrome; too many whores and not enough sluts. Just like an imbalance in the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3s can lead to heart disease, an imbalance of whores to sluts can lead to a flaccid nightlife. Drunk, bored, and disillusioned, I found Brett and tuk-tuk'd back to Mad Monkey.
I consider Phnom Penh to be worth further exploration. If you are interested in the the dark history of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge, you'll have a lot more to do in PP than I did. The nightlife can not be compared with Bangkok.