Phnom Penh

As we stepped down from the bus in Phnom Penh we were accosted by one of the infamous local tuk tuk drivers: speaking rapidly, his eyes hidden by huge aviator glasses, he hustled us over to his machine. We gave him the name of a hotel we were interested in but we never did see it. Instead he took us to several other hotels to check prices and finally to one he recommended. Although not the best room we’d had the price and location were fine so we settled on it. The tuk tuk driver hung in there until he’d also whisked us to an ATM and an office to buy our boat tickets for our eventual journey down the Mekong River back into Vietnam. Finally he got Sue to commit to a tour the next day and left us in peace to wander about on foot.
We walked to Friends Restaurant for lunch. Similar to KOTO in Hanoi, Friends assists and trains street kids. The lunch was fantastic, just what we needed after our bus trip. We then visited the Friends Store which was filled with funky fashions and accessories, all made by local craftworkers. Later in the afternoon we caught a tuk tuk to a large pagoda where, the driver told us, we could watch the sunset over the river. Well, the sun set on the other side of the pagoda, not over the river, but it was a lovely spot. And on the way we got to see an elephant trying to go into a bar (well, that’s what it looked like from our speeding tuk tuk).
elephant on street, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
So This Elephant Goes Into a Bar...
We walked back down the river waterfront, stopping for dinner at a restaurant with free wifi so we could catch up on over a week’s email. The waterfront walkway was filled with locals, enjoying the cool air by the river. Eventually we turned inland to head back to our hotel. On the way we passed this deserted dilapidated colonial mansion.
deserted mansion, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Deserted Colonial Mansion
The next morning Sue went off with our original tuk tuk driver on a tour to see the infamous Khmer Rouge prison and onto the Russian Market. I meandered around the streets, looking at local markets and photographing the sights. Phnom Penh has a lot of texture: slightly rundown looking, still lots of colonial architecture and odd little corners and lanes.
wall with torn posters, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Wall with Torn Posters

There’s an incredible variety of goods for sale on the streets.

charcoal for sale, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Charcoal Seller

And of course it’s always amazing to see what can be carried on a motorbike (note the stick used to prop up the bike while they unload).

basket of limes, market, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Basket of Limes
And flashes of colour everywhere along the drab streets.
drying noodles, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
We only spent a couple of days in Phnom Penh but were pleasantly surprised by the city. The people were wonderful (like most Cambodians we’d met) and the city has a calm about it that we’d not expected. It’s now on my list of places I’d be interested in working in.
But our visas were running out and it was time to leave Cambodia. We really enjoyed our time in Cambodia and would highly recommend it as a travel destination.

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