Welcome to this three part Cambodian adventure series! I will share with you my stories and useful information about this fascinating country. Cambodia was the last country I have visited on my epic Southeast trip. Flying in from Singapore, country that has the world’s highest percentage of millionaires into a country where large percentage of its population lives below the poverty line was quite interesting. The difference I saw just on my way from/to the airport was massive.
Phnom Penh is capital of Cambodia since the French colonization with population of over 15 million people. Also known as “Khmer Empire” and “Kingdom of Cambodia”, this city is one of the most visited places together with Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. Cambodia is facing challenges like poverty, coruption, low human development and other social and political issues.
Little taxi drama
I was going to meet my friend Emma in PP. She has been working there as a volunteer for 6 weeks and lived in a huge volunteer house where I stayed for one night. Before I actually got to her place I had kind of a “funny” story with the taxi driver. So when you arrive at the airport in Phnom Penh you need to take a tuk tuk or taxi to the city. Luckily there is a taxi counter where you buy your ride for a fixed price. Tuk tuk is 7 USD and taxi was 12 USD. It looked like it´s gonna rain so didn´t want to risk it and took a taxi. I gave my address to the driver, had to repeat the actual address for another few minutes and then he said something like ok, so I assumed he knows where to go. We also had a chat about the Cambodian king who actually lived and studied for some time in Prague (CZ). Then we arrived more central and at that point he kept asking me again about my destination and started to be a bit annoyed. What I was really confused about was that they don’ t have the house numbers in order but you have 56, next to that 89, then 23 etc. Well, I was not used to it but he should have been. He was not very sure and kept asking me again and again. I was getting a bit nervous because I didn’ t even had Emma’ s phone number! It came to the point where we were almost at the end of a blind alley and he said: “I can´t spend all day driving around, I will leave you here!” I was just thinking OMG! No! Luckily enough, after he said that I spot that house! All good then, I paid, got into the house and met Emma.
After a little rest we headed to the Russian market where you can get anything from handicrafts, antiques (mainly fake), clothes, food to jewelry and buddha statues. It is called Russian mainly because Russian expats were shopping here in 1980s. The humidity in combination with the smell made it all an unpleasant experience so we headed to the nearby KFC to get a dinner.
Night out in Phnom Penh
Being on a tuk tuk in the streets of PP at night is experience itself. There´s a lot of traffic and the driver was driving fast zigzag between the cars and bikes. That evening we went to the bus station to get tickets for our next day trip to Sihanoukville. So if possible, get your tickets in advance! Then we headed to one of the Flick Movie Houses which combines a cinema, hostel and a roof-top bar. It felt a bit christmassy because as decoration they had the colourful lights hanging everywhere around. In April, why not! The roof-top bar was surprisingly pleasant with billiard and Angkor Wat 0,5l beer for 1 USD. So if you are in PP and want to chill and watch a movie, visit one of their three cinemas. The ticket is only 3,50 USD and you can check the program here.
Off to Sihanoukville
The next day we packed our stuff and headed back to the bus station to get our bus to Sihanoukville from where we had to take tuk tuk to get to Otres Beach 2. So I did not have much time to explore the capital but maybe next time! The journey took 6 hours, we had few stops for “toilets” and overall it went pretty smooth except for the horrible road which make you feel like you are on a roller-coaster. It was already getting dark when we arrived to Sihanoukville and as always couple of tuk tuk drivers were already waiting for the new tourists offering the high market prices for their rides. We made our way thru and got on a tuk-tuk just when Emma realized that she does not remember the name of the hostel we are going to!