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Street 51, sorya golden mall in Phnom Penh
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Phnom Penhs red light district


street 51 phnom penhGrey haired Sexpats sit around tiny tables, nursing small beers and big appetites. Old men who want young women, young men who want all women. Their eyes jump from woman to woman. Warm chocolate skin, glowing smiles, winking eyes, short skirts and tight shirts. They play pool and sit around tables, scanning the men, looking for eye contact, seeking a few more dollars for the night.

Her pleather purse painted with Louis Vuitton symbols holds a packs of cigarettes, the papers torn and tobacco leaking out, stuffed inside, buried deep in the thick, are small flakes of Methamphetamine. She pulls out an ice cigarettes. A spark, a flame, the tobacco lights, the meth burns. Her batteries recharge, and her pains subsides as rich endorphins flood her dry nerves and drench her poor brain.

She stands up, a slight stagger but no one notices. She walks ahead, her magenta high heels snapping and clicking as they make contact with the cement floor. Snap Click. Snap, Click.

She passes full tables of men with whores, she’s fucked them all, she passes empty tables, seats she has sit in for years, seats she has been picked up in and picked up from. She passes everyone, her stride carrying her down Street 51.

The tuktuk and motorcycle drivers pay her no attention. No cat calls, no offers for overpriced rides. They know her. She has no man. She’s no customer.

She passes Phnom Penh’s only clubs, its raunchiest bars and dozens of other women, men and ladyboys looking for tonight’s paycheck. $5 or $10 a fuck, $15 or $20 if they are lucky, $25 or $30 if the men are stupid. She cuts down a side street, noodle stalls light the way, and children play leapfrog in the light. A hard right, through narrow corridors up semen stained stairs, she unlocks her door and sits on her single bed. It smells like him.

A Spark, a flame, the tobacco glows in the windowless room. She inhales deep, the ice soothing her brain. She feels another kick. It’s a boy, she knows, a French boy. She lies down, and cries, she will never see his father again.


Life on Street 51 is sad, but it’s a way of life. Women sell themselves cheap, sometimes as little as 2$ per time. Any drug is easy to find and meth cigarettes are popular among the working girls, it makes their life more bearable. The women are sweet but hard lives and little education has had a disastrous effect.

Many do not really understand the benefits of condoms and birth control. Because of this, countless end up with illegitimate children with fathers from developed countries like England, USA, Germany and France who don’t care or sometimes don’t know about them. In a developed countries, if a man goes to a foreign country and gets a girl pregnant he is still legally responsible for that child. If the father refuses to take care of the child the courts can order him to pay monthly child support. Unfortunately there is no system to help these women find the deadbeat dads, so many fatherless children suffer terrible fates.

Moreover according to the UN, AIDS and other STI’s are rampant among Cambodian prostitutes. No one provides information to these women on safe sex practices, on medications to treat and prevent STIs, on drugs and their effects, on pregnancy, and how to stay healthy given the very poor diet of most low wage earners in Cambodia.

Life on Street 51 is sad, but it’s a way of life.

Hey, I’m Eric, is my travel blog. I write this website to show you how easy it is to live, work and travel all around the world. I’ve been traveling almost 8 years now. I’m just about to publish my new book Where the Wind Blows: Traveling around the World on $5 a day

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  1. So,the communist revolution backed by China and US through Khmer Rouge didnt empower women to fight for their rights?

  2. I have had 4 trips to Phnom Penh in the last 6 years for business.

    Having also visited many third world coountries over the past 20 years I have a great deal of empathy for the less fortunate, hooked on drugs and surviving on the street

    Due to a nightclub opening up in Sorya Mall which opens at 3am I have come to know Sorya Mall very well.

    My asvice to everyone is to avoid Sorya Mall at all times. I concur that Meth is rampent here, with all the working girls practising every trick in the bookk to scam you.

    And they are relentless, are ppart of large networks, with many dealears stationed in the rear carpark.

    The security guards are all Meth Heads, paid off by the dealears with strong connections to the police and accommodation in the vicinity.

    I have seen these groups of gangs roll many Farangs over, some of which have been set up so badly that they have only avoided jail by paying huge fines.

    Speak to any Touk Touk driver and they will all say stay away and if going to the 2 clubs do not venture ouutside.

    The people here are desperate and dangerous, and you have absolutly no one to turn to if they spike your drink, steal your belongings or plant drugs on you.

    All the locals know what goes on here and are ashamed of the hurt and trouble caused around Sorya Mall, but all are way to scared to say anything.

    So stick to the Riverside, and if you decide to go dancing, my tip is head to the nightclub at the Casino. The drinks are cheaper, its way more upmarket that Pontoon or Heart of Darkness and it is very safe with genuinely nice local Cambodians. And the music is great.

    Just stay away from Soyra Mall, it is one of the most dangerous places I have encountered in the world.


    • @Sam
      You must be either very stupid, liar or simply a pretender! Of course every red light district isn’t typically the safest place in a town, but what you are writing about the GSM (Golden Sorya Mall, St 51) is just pure BS!
      There are no security guards dealing with meth! (if you are a dealer, you normally consume as well, so after a few month you look so fuck up that not even a blind man would give you a job as a security) Also I have never heard that the ‘working or taxi girls” have spiked your drink except with more alcohol. Yes, there might be some robberies (mainly in your hotel room) if you aren’t very careful, but in general the Cambodians despise theft to the max and I know of some friends who had their phone stolen and who got a great deal of help from all the locals – security guards, restaurant owners and even pros (taxi girls)!

      Every expat in Cambodia will confirm you that the riverside is the much more dangerous place for being robed than the GSM. At the riverside there are the rich tourists with much more money. So even you might be that smart to see that the riverside is much more lucrative for a thief!!!

      And when you argue that the drinks in the Naga-Casino club ‘Darling’ are cheaper than at the GSM, then you really are totally braindead. (it doesn’t make any sense that a night club, located in a Casino, which is normally filled with high roller gamblers (from $10-$100-thousand a night) would pay less than in the red light district). Seriously!

      I lived here for many years and I have frequented the GSM and other dark places in PP, but I never felt scared or in danger, day or night. Cities like NY, LA, or any South American country is by far a more dangerous place to go for a walk at night!

      A note to the street girls. There is definitely no more $5 sex anymore. The cheapest is nowadays around $20 but after that you need an entire pharmacy to cure yourself (even with condom). But there are still many street ‘taxi girls’ around (check Wat Phnom, North part of Riverside, etc), since prostitution is very common here, as it is in Thailand. For the locals they find their girl in Karaoke bars, where as the barangs (tourists) they go to GSM or to St 104, 130 and 136!

      • Ive been visiting sorya mall nightly for over a year and actually Sam is correct, its a protected place for the locals to buy and sell methamphetimines and most of the girls there arent prostitutes but looking to get access to peoples rooms and other scams to get money for drugs. of course security are aware that meths is sold openly inside the mall and they sure dont stop it, so they are involved somehow. but it is generally safe, except g-bar where the owner gets a kick out of beating tourists for fun and relieving them of their cash and phones during the fight. a person was badly burnt last week when the owner threw boiling water over them with no warning. I enjoy it but dont bother with the girls and stay well clear of the psycho at g-bar and his gang of thugs

  3. Well I think that the $2,$5,$10 fuck might be the result of dreams, I agreed that the Sorya Mall is a dreary cheap place but for $5, they only candidate available will be a third grade drug addicted over the hill whore. The norm now in 2015 is $15,$20,$25 a pop for average tart. The prime girls rates will be more like $40,$50 and over like the one at the Pontoon, Nova Club, Beliza Club or the. new V Club.

    And by the way there is no more street girls anymore the Sep 2015 roundoup took cares of them.


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