"Holiday in Cambodia" running through my mind.
Unlike in Vietnam where past violence has faded away from the feeling of the place, in Cambodia it hangs like a shadow in every corner. Or so it seems to me...
Cambodia and Vietnam have many similarities: the markets, the buildings, some cultural traits, but I definately feel like I am in a different and more edgy place. Chantal doesn't walk anywhere at night, and she tells me of acid attacks and murders, rampant prostitution and AIDS. Of course things like this exist in VIetnam but it is not on the surface by any stretch. The government has a firm control on things there, whereas here with all of the corruption and past chaos that is more difficult.
But really I am here to spend time with Chantal and see how she lives. Chantal is definately super-hosting me and she has a really nice 2-bedroom beautifully decorated place, and the area that she is living in is interesting because it looks like it is going through some change. New buildings are going up and you can see small wooden one-room houses alongside concrete buildings of several floors. Somewhat disconcerting is the shanty area nearby where Chantal tells me the construction workers live with their families. I wonder where they go when the construction is finished and how they access clean water etc.
Our two internship experiences could not be more different, as she is perhaps over-worked and over-directed, whereas I had no work and no direction at all. Either extreme is certainly problematic. Being here I am kind of just living life with her, meeting her friends and hanging out at her place, rather than going out to see the city much. This suits me fine, although I hope that Chantal will be able to get away from her work for a bit to show me around tomorrow. Then I can get a sense of this place in more solid terms.