We only had a short time in Phnom Penh – arriving at night and leaving the following day. It’s the capital of Cambodia and located on the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. Apparently, it used to be known as the “Pearl of Asia”. That certainly wasn’t our first impression. Getting in on a Saturday night, we witnessed some of the worst about Phnom Penh. Walking to have dinner on the Riverfront, we passed a number girlie bars and scantily clad girls roaming around, which was such a strange sight in a culture where people typically dress modestly. And at the restaurant where we had dinner, there was a table of old white guys, each with a Cambodian girl and it was obvious what was going on. Needless to say, we didn’t stay out long.
The next morning, we explored the city by foot. With the exception of the riverfront, we found the city to be extremely unfriendly to pedestrians. The sidewalks are full of stalls, tables, cars, tuk tuks, etc., forcing you to walk on the street amongst the chaotic traffic. Crossing a street is like a real life game of Frogger. Thankfully a handful of intersections had stoplights, which had the best pedestrian lights ever – a lighted man who starts off walking slow, then goes faster and faster, eventually running and then turning red when it’s time to stop.
The Riverfront was nice at daytime – an expansive sidewalk to walk on, palm trees and neatly manicured greenery.
We checked out OunaLom Pagoda, one of the original monasteries in Phnom Penh.
We also explored the Central market, Phsar Thmei, which the most modern market we’ve seen thus far in our travels. The bright yellow Art Deco building is a local landmark.
That wrapped up our short time in Phnom Penh. At the Central market, we caught the bus to Takeo – this bright orange, falling apart bus that they packed people into like sardines (aisle full, people sitting on each others’ laps). They claimed it had A/C, so would not let folks open the windows. It was a stifling hot 3 hour bus trip. Although these sort of bus rides are inevitable with budget traveling, I think we’ll splurge $20 for a taxi on our way back.