Lots of white geezers who look like Nick Nolte in that mugshot strut around Phnom Penh with young Cambodian girls for company.
They've come to visit, or even retire, to regale themselves with concubines on the cheap.
Maybe the Beatles were wrong. Money can buy you love, at least a semblance of it.
Granted, some couples are on the up. It happens. Boy meets girl anywhere.
But most unions are dubious, if you were to judge the look by its cover.
Foreigners are accosted relentlessly in the tourist quarters, first for a tuk tuk, then a motorbike and then, in a sly conspirator tone, "You want massage, girl?"
Every dude seems to know a girl who's simply dripping with desire.
While I was in PP, news flashed about an international bust on pedophilia and sex trafficking.
This ragged city with its corrupt government and bounty of stunningly beautiful girls was a prime target. Really? Quelle surprise!
Phnom Penh is also awash in the flowing orange robes of monks.
Talk of juxtaposition. Sultry seediness and demure devotion.
Both the byproduct of destitution.
With all due respect to Buddhism, in poverty riddled Cambodia, a young man can often find salvation through religion.
It's no easy task. And no easy life, by any measure. But at least it provides purpose.
To a stranger, Monks are colorful anomalies of Western life. They add a visual vibrance to the daily scenery -- robes flowing from back of scooters, big shiny orange umbrellas catching a ray of sunlight in a dingy market, the serenity amidst the clutter of a monk reciting a mantra in front of a shop in exchange for a little food or money. I walked into a Buddhist university where young students from the countryside had come to complete their entrance exams. I stood at the threshold of the class, snapping pictures of the marvelous scene, feeling privileged. No one made a fuss, on the contrary, they were enthralled at seeing the images on my small monitor, and were eager to know where I came from, where I was going and to answer my own queries about their lives.
The mantra of street photography is universal: make a connection and you can make art.
See earlier posts at: www.armandthomas.com/blog
Picture and video seen here are quickies shot on iPad
Photo gallery of Vietnam and Cambodia coming soon on this website