Once the called the Pearl of Asia the shine has been tarnished by the impact of war and revolution. But that is in the past and now Phnom Phen is an “in” capital in Asia. There is a variety of sights, smells and tastes to take in the capital city from the mind numbing trauma of the Tuol Sleng Museum to the hard bargaining of the city’s markets or the expensive boutiques, the tastes of Khmer food, and tropical drinks the city does not disappoint.
With a limited time budget and a late night arrival we had to take in a quick sample of everything. Our flight landed at 2305 and it was after midnight by the time we arrived at our hostel via tuk-tuk. We were wiped out so after sleeping in and having a leisurely breakfast we returned for a nap that turned out to be a 2 hour nap. It was noon by the time we started out to explore the city.
Our mission that afternoon was to find the big central market to do some shopping. Along the way to the central market we stumbled across Wat Phnom (a wat is just another word for temple). Wat Phnom means hill temple and is appropriately named because it sets on a mound 27m high providing a nice view of the surrounding area. It is highly regarded by locals and legend has it that it was constructed in 1373. The first temple was built by a lady named Penh to house four Buddha statues that she found floating in the Mekong river.
Next we wandered around and found the central market to work on our bargaining skills. After some negotiations we ended up with a couple of items. Our pockets were lighter from the leakage of money and our backs were heavier with the growth of a few items: mini-speaker for the iPad, several shirts, skirts and a couple pieces of jewelry. Since Donna does not make rings she acquires a few as we go. After a couple of hours wandering the market it was time for nourishment. On our wander we found a restaurant with 50 cent Tiger beers. I was sold. We sat down and had one of the best meals since being overseas. China your food sucks compared to this! I had Khmer Chicken Amok and Donna had Curry Chicken and the best pineapple daiquiri. We enjoyed the place so much we went back and found it the second night for a repeat of some great cooking. I was ready to stay in Phnom Phen for a while with the great food, drinks, Vietnamese coffee and bread. It was obvious that Cambodia was once a French colony because the great coffee and bread was everywhere.
We had a nice walk down the river boulevard back to our place then retired early. We were still somewhat tired from our late night, getting use to 90+ degrees and high humidity.