Great days in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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After Ankor Wat I probably did what few tourists have ever done. I went back to see the sun set and because I had very little time, I actually took a few pictures of Angkor Wat and then found my Tuc Tuc driver to take me to this small mountain. The sun was already setting and so I had to run up the mountain to see anything up there. I had herds of Japanese and other tourists in my way as they were coming down but I continued my run all the way to the top and was fortunate to find a great view of Angkor. Relieved and exhausted I was standing up on the mountain, looking down at the lake, rice fields and Angkor Wat that was still lit up by the sun. There were still many tourists but I had found some peace and satisfaction and was now able to slowly walk back to find by driver. It had been an eventful day and me and my friend from Canada went to grab some beers. While I was gone, he had actually gotten a massage and was very happy about that, but a bit disturbed about the fact that the “woman” was touching him too much in somewhat improper parts. The next day when we got up, we actually walked by the massage parlor and I pointed out the one and only transvestite to him and guess what … he had once again hit the jackpot. Funny, but foreigners really have a hard time distinguishing them and you kind of need a few months to learn how to differentiate them.
At night and after 2 showers, we decided to go for a few more drinks but that did not work out too well. I went home early because I was really tired again and Ivan stayed with some English girls at the bar. However, once home I met 3 guys from Poland that I was trying to help out by explaining to them how to make an Internet phone call. It didn’t quite work because of the slow connection but we did end up having a few more drinks and discussion. It was a weird crowd, a real estate broker, an artist (check out wallst.pl) and a disabled guy in a wheel chair; some really nice guys though.
The next morning we left for Phnom Penh. We were really tired so we slept the first part of trip and then just watch the scenery. The drive takes about 5 hours and you’re basically driving through all these rural areas with lush rice fields, smiling people, and strange transports. Once we arrived in Phnom Penh it was really overwhelming. The locals got out of the bus first and then we decided to also leave the bus. We basically followed two Germans that we had met in the bus and had recommended a nice guest house to us. Once we were outside there was this crazy commotion and about 20 Tuc Tuc drivers starting yelling and bidding for us. It was like a small version of the Chicago Board of Trade or Wall Street itself. People screaming prices, running at you “my friend, my friend, need tuc tuc?”, “$2 per person”, “$4 Sir…”, “I have big tuc tuc” and so on…. The funniest thing is that in Cambodia, Tuc Tuc drivers will first win the bidding war and then when they have gotten away a few streets, they will stop, look back and say to you with a cheeky smile “Ahh, emm, (smiling some more) … where you want to go, Sir?”. This is standard practice and they will always be embarrassed about it somewhat. Anyhow, we did get back alright and were happy to have checked into a quite nice place with pictures on the walls drawn by children. The guesthouse apparently operates 4 places and uses some of the funds to develop schools and kindergartens. After checking in, we went across the street to S-21 or Tuan Sluen Prison which was one of the most terrible extermination camps during the Khmer Rouge. A very disturbing place and a very upsetting place somehow. First of all, the place is run down and there are almost no tourists and especially no Cambodian tourists. The info flyer actually tells you that a lot of things are breaking down and they need to be fixed, so this prison needs immediate funding. It’s like 30 years after this happened, Cambodians do not care to see these sites and the government rather pockets all the money that they make. I had heard from many people now that the Cambodian government is really corrupt and doesn’t care about their people and culture heritage, and this was just another reminder. All in all about 12,000 people were killed at that site, mainly intellectuals and people with intl. contacts. During this time, if you were wearing glasses, it was a reason to get you executed. After having dominated the largest region in South East Asia for many years, they gradually went back to the Stone Age.
A bit tired and disturbed still, we went to the river side to grab food and relax. We had a couple of local dishes, and they were great. We had some raw beef salad which was kind of a mix of Japanese raw beef and Thai Som Tam salad, we had banana flower soup, squid with fresh green pepper, fried shrimps. It’s a good thing that we only went for a walk after dinner as we came across a market that was selling all sorts of huge crickets, bugs, fried frogs, and even these baskets of huge spiders that were about 10cm in diameter and really fat and hairy. After this tremendous culinary experience, we went to buy a DVD and simply finished the night at home watching the movie. The next day we got up, traveled through the city all day, saw some great market (Russian Market), a temple (Wat Phnom), and the killing fields. It’s weird that on the way to the killing field the driver really wanted to drive us to the shooting range … “menu really cheap”. I guess he wanted to make his commissions, but this is what I was telling earlier; to me it seems really primitive and is very upsetting in a way.
We took a guide at the killing fields, looked at some of the upsetting remains of this place of cruelty and then left to go back to the city. The market was very cool. We did actually buy a few things and tasted some more local foods. Well and then there was the monkeys. You can look at their pictures, they are always fun. We went back to our guesthouse and dropped off our belongings, it’s not good to carry things around here at night … this is not Thailand! On the way to find an Internet Café I suddenly heard someone scream “Peter”… I turned around and it was my friend Jean Pierre sitting in another Tuc Tuc. He was doing some business in Cambodia, so we had a few hours left to grab drinks together have a few good laughs and I could finally check my emails again at his hotel which had the slowest WiFi connection on the planet…. Now I am back in the guest house and I will get up in 7 hours to catch a bus to Sianoukville early in the morning.
Things about Phnom Penh you may be interested in
1. Aug 18, 2007 Arriving back to Bangkok (Bangkok) ( 13)
2. Aug 19, 2007 A little more of Bangkok (Bangkok) ( 31)
3. Aug 20, 2007 Still in Bangkok (Bangkok) ( 31)
4. Aug 21, 2007 Adventures in Ao Nang (Muang Krabi) ( 7)
5. Aug 22, 2007 Railay Beach - Nice Place (Ban Khlong Yang) ( 63)
6. Aug 23, 2007 The best beaches and islands of Thailand (Krabi) ( 87)
7. Aug 24, 2007 A quick stop and great food in Surat (Surat) ( 11)
8. Aug 25, 2007 Koh Tao - My favorite Thai island (Ko Phangan) ( 72)
9. Sep 4, 2007 From Koh Tao via Chumpon to Bangkok (Bangkok) ( 52)
10. Sep 5, 2007 Back again in Bangkok (Bangkok) ( 185)
11. Sep 9, 2007 Traveling to Siem Reap, Cambodia (Siem Reap)
12. Sep 10, 2007 Siem Reap, like in the tales (Siem Reap) ( 71)
13. Sep 12, 2007 Experiencing Angkor Wat (Puok) ( 204)
14. Sep 13, 2007 Great days in Phnom Penh (Phnom Penh) ( 81)
15. Sep 14, 2007 Adventurous vacation in Sianoukville (Sihanoukville) ( 39)
Start from beginning | 1 - 15 Journal overview
Read about Phnom Penh in our travel-guide
Recommended Phnom Penh Guide
Phnom Penh hasn’t been the capital of Cambodia for long, at least not in historical terms. King Ponhea Yat founded Phnom Penh in 1422, after abandoning Angkor Wat. He settled for strategic place, both from a political and an agrarian point of view. In the 15th century, the country’s economy was based on agriculture, and the city’s position at the confluence of three rivers, Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap. The region was also favourable for trade, and the new city quickly became a centre for trade and manufacture. The kings that succeeded Ponhea moved the capital several times, but Phnom Penh remained one of the country’s... Read more »
Recent reviews for Phnom Penh
Traveling to Siem Reap, Cambodia - Sep 10, 2007, by MadSuh
I woke up a bit dizzy from last night’s adventure and really had a hard time getting up. It’s always a pain when you are traveling with a headache and a strange feeling in your stomach. Anyhow, I managed to get a cab to the bus... Read more »
Adventurous vacation in Sianoukville - Sep 17, 2007, by MadSuh
Me and Ivan were up at around 6:30 and quickly had breakfast so we could get down to Sianoukville as early as possible. We took a Tuc Tuc right outside the guesthouse and quickly found the bus station and the right bus. We had a nice little... Read more »
Experiencing Angkor Wat - Sep 13, 2007, by MadSuh
I am really not sure what to write about, one of the wonders of the world or the mess this country is in. I have no doubt that greed is what rules in Cambodia and I have also no doubt that greed makes great riches and destroys them as well.... Read more »
Siem Reap, like in the tales - Sep 10, 2007, by MadSuh
Arriving late in Siem Reap did not give us too many choices. I was a bit hungry so I decided to stop over at the little market across the street and have some dinner. Bad mistake, it seems like the food in Cambodia may not be as clean as it... Read more »
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