Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cambodia : Phnom Penh

I thought I'd take a break from the temples posts first, and jump to my trip to Phnom Penh.

I chose the cheaper bus ticket that cost me USD6, however the guesthouse staff said he'll upgrade me to the VIP bus that costs USD12, inclusive of pick up. Of course I was grateful, though I think they just try to fill up one bus instead of having a few buses running the same route and that this happens all the time.

Early the next morning at 7:30 am, we had a shuttle bus that went round town picking up passengers from various hostels/GHs, then later stopped near the Old Market, then we switched to another bus that was pink all over and inside out. Seriously. Okay, the external paint was more like, fuchsia. I felt like I was in a wedding entourage.

I like pink, but this was a tad too much, no?

This pink bus shuttled us over to the other side of the river to the bus terminal near Wat Bo area. We left at about 8:10 am, an uneventful, comfortable journey. Somewhere mid-way we stopped at Kampung Thom for an early lunch for about an hour (the driver did not tell us how long the stop was so I did not venture far). I had yummy juicy mangoes. No bugs.

I tried the fresh tamarind - very sourrrr.

Crickets? I was tempted.

Reached PP just before 2:00 pm, and was met by a pre-arranged moto-driver.

Entering the city we passed by this - the Knotted Gun roundabout?

I had not made any bookings so he suggested to have a look at a few places, including the one that he worked at. It was located somewhere close to the Old Market, St 103 I think. A few minutes away I could walk to Sisowath Quay, so after looking at some more places I decided to take up the room at Diamond Guesthouse, felt too tired and too hot to venture out too far. Took a nap first before taking a walk later that afternoon.

I got upgraded. This room could easily sleep 3 persons. With a/c it was USD10. The downside? The room faced the street, and although bearable I could hear the traffic, people shouting (there was a minor fracas involving a mentally challenged man) and a funeral procession! Late night it quieted down so it was alright.

Diamond Guesthouse, very near to the market.

En route to the National Museum area I got stuck at a bookshop. So many books - I was so tempted to buy! The thought of extra weight stopped me; in the end I parted with USD14 for 4 Murakamis (I could've bought his whole collection). Some of the books were good copies/counterfeit/fake; very common especially with Lonely Planets and books on Cambodia. I remember one vendor telling me : 'Cambodia copy very good, Vietnam copy, no good'. Okay.

Pigeons in front of the Royal Palace compound.

The National Museum. I decided to visit it the next day as it was almost closing time.

The Pavilion at the Royal Palace.

UNESCO offices occupying a French-styled bungalow. These bungalows look like pretty cakes with icing sugar :)

Braved my stomach and bought myself some noodle lunch from the street vendor. It looked good, and I wasn't the only one who bought a packet to go. Another Caucasian guy bought one too.

I tell you this smelled really good. Or maybe I was just too hungry. Thankfully I did not get an upset tummy afterwards.

Sat here at the riverfront facing the mighty Tonle Sap River, eating my noodles and watching the afternoon go by. Made me want to hum Sitting On The Dock of The Bay. Vendors went around selling snacks and drinks.

The famous FCC (Foreign Correspondent's Club) is located on the 2nd Floor. There is a cafe downstairs - Cafe Fresco I think it's called.

Monks in their saffron and brown robes.

Gold-gilded apsara at the Hotel Cambodiana entrance.

Then I walked down the road right up till till this building near Nagaworld.

This was a monument - I cannot remember its name now.

Turned right towards the towering Independence Monument that's on a roundabout.

Then walked along this boulevard back to the Royal Palace area.

Much has been said about the traffic in this city so I will shut up.

Market scenes. Lots of foodstuff on sale. I was so tempted to try but most were barely recognisable so I did not.

Lots of grilled fish like these.

Pigeons I think? Or small chickens?

The Central Market - noted for its art-deco architecture.
'Fake' LPs aplenty.

Popular souvenir tees.

Wat Phnom - how the city got its name.

These inner-city streets remind me of ... Sinsuran. Not very clean. :P

The reason why iced drinks are discouraged (for tourists-lah). I stuck to bottled water and hot drinks. The coffee here didn't quite agree with me though. Too bitter and weirdly caramel-ly at the same time.

Had a late lunch at Happy Herb Pizza.

A whole pizza to myself cos I was starving.

I'll save Tuol Sleng and The Killing Fields for another post.


  1. Wow. Lots of exotic foods in Phnom Penh. They don't really look safe tho. Everyth seems to be priced in USD huh? By current conversion those foods are not really cheap then.

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  3. JIPP : Ya, I think only the really adventurous would try them out, like Andrew Zimmern or Mr Bourdain :). Price-wise, not that cheap once converted to RM. But you can still find slightly cheaper options esp street food.

  4. I tried the spider and the cricket and the happy pizza. The spider's legs were nice, but the butt tasted like you-know-what

  5. Jason LT : Eeeeyuww, spider's butts in your mouth? The happy pizza was just that, no?