We arrived in Phnom Penh Cambodia, after a long long boat journey, and we were nervous to meet our new guide (as we were quite sure there was no way he would be as good as Bao… we were right).
After getting picked up at the docks, popping into a local restaurant for lunch, we headed straight to the King’s Palace and the Silver Pagoda. **Please note: proper attire is required at many/all Palaces, Pagodas, Temples, etc. in Cambodia–Wear a shirt with sleeves and either pants, or a long skirt/shorts/dress.
The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda were absolutely awe inspiring. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever get to see something like that–I felt rather tearful a few times when I thought how very lucky I am to see the things I’ve seen and do the things I’ve done….very few people are this fortunate. Our new tour guide (Same) showed us around a bit and then gave us free time to look around the Silver Pagoda. Here are a few highlights:
The Royal Palace is absolutely stunning and a must see when visiting Phnom Penh.
After leaving the Royal Palace, we popped into the Russian Market for a quick lookaround before it closed (4:30pm). We made a mental note to come back the next day so we had time to properly shop. Afterward, we headed to the hotel, which was a bit of a let down compared to what we had in Vietnam–but the staff was friendly and the rooms were more than adequate.
After relaxing for a bit, we ventured out for dinner and had some lovely food at Mok Mony, which was one of the highlights of our time spent in Phnom Penh. We had Salted Fish, Fried Chicken with Lemongrass, Squid with Fresh Peppercorn, Stir Fried Morning Glory and Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf. I also had a Lemongrass Mint Freeze to drink. All the food was fantastic and the owner made it even better! He was very friendly, helped us choose what to eat, and said if we didn’t like anything, we could send it back and try something else. We ate like kings for $35 total! Here’s a couple photos:
We called it an early night as we had a rough day ahead of us–the Killing Fields and then the Genocide Museum. As you may expect, the Killing Fields was a very sad place to visit and I found it very hard to listen to everything our guide said to us– especially when he told us some of the same gruesome stories over and over. He lost his father to the Killing Fields and 2 siblings due to starvation and disease that resulted from the mass evacuation of Phnom Penh-I understand how important it was for him to educate us. After a brief stop at the Russian Markets, we went to the Genocide Museum/S21, which was even harder for me to handle as they displayed photographs of all the people who were tortured and killed there (the Khmer Rouge administration took photos for their records). We did get to meet one of the only 2 survivors and the sadness in his face will stay with me as long as I live. I will stop my story here as it is too hard to explain in a blog post. This is an important time in World History and essential that we don’t let things like this ever happen again. If you want to go to these places, you should–just know that it will mess you up for a few days.
After leaving the Genocide Museum, we were taken to a restaurant for lunch-another semi-expensive ‘ok’ eatery–we were fairly sure they gave kickbacks to the tour guide for bringing folks here. Our guide then dropped us off by the river so we could walk around before heading back to our hotel-we said goodbye to him there as he said only the driver would take us to the docks the next morning. He did give us his thanks for supporting Cambodia Tourism (one of the country’s biggest sources of income) and left us to do our own thing.
We enjoyed walking around the city for a bit in the afternoon and finding a shady spot to grab a beer. We came back to the hotel, got cleaned up, and packed for another 6hr boat ride the next day(ugh).
We headed out to dinner in the early evening and chose a place called Romdeng. It is one of the many charity restaurants in Cambodia, where local teachers work with underprivileged youths to teach them to work in the service industry (so that they can have good solid jobs). The food was pretty good: tarantula (yes I said that right), spring rolls, pork stuffed squid, chicken curry, deep fried fish.
After dinner, we strolled around the city a bit, got some snacks and got an eyeful when we stumbled into the red light district. Phnom Penh Cambodia is a great city, there’s plenty to keep you busy for a day or two, and you can find some really great food to eat! Check it out if you can!
Early to bed, early to rise–5:45 wake up call to head to our final stop–SIEM REAP!!