If you are considering moving to Phnom Penh, rest assured that there are many supermarkets around that can cater for your daily needs. The Angkor Supermarket near the Russian Market (diagonally opposite Joma’s cafe on street 126 is a case is point. Unexpectedly successful shopping forays there have resulted in securing items as diverse as birthday cake candles, insect repellent, tinned coffee, real cheese, batteries even that rarest of all treasures: brown bread. (Though some have a suspicion it has just been dyed brown to please our western sensitivities). It isn’t a huge supermarket space by any means, so it is extraordinary what you can get in their, shelves stacked from floor to ceiling with pretty much everything you can think of. Even so, this was initially a surprise to me.
At the checkout area where you might reasonably expect to pick up some chewing gum, cough sweets or cigarettes – those kind of routine, impulse frequent purchases we’ve all made at the checkout from time to time – you can also get your fix of Viagra. Not even just Viagra, there is a choice of three products to help you in case of need. As far as I can gather these are all items that would normally be prescription only medications in the UK, but here you can purchase them and take them as easily as if they were smarties. More easily in fact, as smarties (alas) are one food item I have yet to locate in Phnom Penh.
Throwing caution to the wind, I have googled these products so you don’t have to. I’m now of course fearful that if I go missing in Cambodia, some officer from Interpol will check my internet search history in an attempt to find clues as to my whereabouts, and it will all be frightfully embarrassing and awkward when I turn up and explain I’ve just been faffing about and didn’t know anyone was actually looking for me. Oh well, too late now. All are products for erectile dysfunction of course, and all have potentially horrendous side-effects and scary warnings on their websites. Not to worry, the concept of health and safety or precautionary prescribing practices do not exist here.
In fact, as far as I can gather, you don’t really need prescriptions for much in the way of drugs here. One volunteer told me he is diabetic and regularly just purchases insulin from the chemists dotted around the place. That’s handy I suppose, but Viagra literally on the counter in this way does seem a tad irresponsible to my risk-averse outlook given the seriousness of the side-effects if it’s taken when not really needed. Oh well. There you go. Me and my prudish, scaredy-cat impulses.
So now you know, whether you wished to or not.
No, I don’t know how much it costs, I didn’t buy any and I didn’t ask. Just stuck with my brown bread and chewing gum.