Cambodia (old notes)

For some years before I started a blog, I took notes on trips.  Sometimes friends ask for these notes to help with trip planning.  To organize everything in one place, I’m adding my old trip notes to my blog.  These were written shorthand and probably not too enjoyable to read but hopefully useful to plan a trip.

I do not have access while traveling to my old photos, but I think through the link below you can see Jenni’s Facebook album from this trip even if you do not have a Facebook account.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.832103361035.2478054.414086&type=1&l=a00c0128e7

We spent a week in Cambodia over Thanksgiving 2010, visiting Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.  It was a phenomenal trip.  So much so that I cannot but wonder whether Cambodia is that terrific or was there an element of this being one of those trips that just clicks…as I discussed in my Sri Lanka post.  But now that I’ve reread all my notes, I think Cambodia is just awesome.

11/19-21

Airport in PP small but very smooth, easy visa ($20) etc. Take 4 pm flight to Siem Reap on turbo prop, about 40 minutes.

Met at airport by driver with V12 Benz (which ended up being about the nicest car we saw the whole trip, only two seats in the back), usually charge but hotel got us free because had told me could send car to pick us up in Phnom Penh then said no because of boat festival.

Terrasse des Elephants Hotel is nice. Room is $65 and has sitting area where first enter with a day-bed type thing, big balcony off to the right that connects to back staircase which could take to the pool or dining area, to the left is bed with mosquito net and then beyond that a step or two up with a cool carved fountain and on either side a shower and a sink, rooftop edgeless pool. Right at old market and pub street etc.

After a swim, we saw fireworks from the roof, then we ate dinner at Khmer Kitchen across from old market. J had Khmer Curry with pumpkin and tofu and I had amok with fish. That, big water and two Angkor beers for $10.

Then walked down to river where boat festival going on. Awesome. Tons of people, band on a stage, almost walked into a little boy peeing. Saw cars with long wooden boats on the roof, like 8 ft hanging over the car on each side. Then just walked around a bit more before returning. Area is great, lots of alleys with bars and restaurants. Very happening. Weather is hot and humid but not super oppressive.

11/22

Breakfast at hotel around 7:30. Pancakes with homemade pineapple jam and honey, eggs with hash brown and grilled tomato, delish coffee, fresh oj, dragon fruit. Then met our guide thai and driver yan ($30 and $40 for day because went farther away) and drove to Angkor entrance and bought 3 of 7 day passes for $40 each. Crowded. Drove through villages and past temples. Houses mainly on stilts for water and to keep out snakes, scorpions, etc. Saw people making palm sugar, water buffalo, cows, etc.

Got to Kbal Splean maybe around 10 and walked about 1.5 km on trail through light jungle. Quite a few others around. J with flip flops, oops. It’s the River of 1000 Lingas which is the phallic symbol. To represent water flowing off mtn (like Mt Meru), all is Hindu, holy water. Hike not too tough but rocks etc so tough for oldies, lots of butterflies. Saw a cave, waterfall, some sanskrit writing on the rocks. At start a bunch of puppies and kids and peeps trying to sell t-shirts and scarves and books. A little pushy but not too bad and rather sweet.

Drove maybe 15 minutes back to Banteay Srei, saw water buffalo in water and taking mud bath. Ox cart. Road is two lanes, pretty wide and nice. Driving not too crazy.

Banteay Srei is temple with very intricate carvings, lots of Hindu mythology representations. Surrounded by a little moat. Saw big chameleon and a snake winding through the stones. Big trees all around. Sampled some fresh jack fruit.  After walk through area with stalls selling things and then lunch. J got fried noodles with veggies and egg and I got fried pork with garlic and pepper (as in tons of both, green peppercorns on the vine). Cans of lychee and soursop. Finished lunch about 1:45.

See a lot of people with medical masks. Still are Khmer Rouge around but I guess nobody fights. But guide said in the 90s it was still dangerous.

After lunch stopped where making palm sugar which sell in little brown discs, yummy. Make by boiling palm juice in wok type thing over little oven made of cow dung, clay, rice stalk…burning wood. Said 80% of country perhaps still cooks with wood. Where got sugar also grow bananas, tamarind, mango, lime. There’s poverty but not much hunger it seems because have lots of rice, fish, fruit etc. Maybe more in Phnom Penh .

Our car has driver on right side even though country drives on right side.

Next up was Banteay Samre. Legend is that it’s the farmer’s temple because was a king who loved sweet cucumbers and he gave the farmer a spear to protect his farm if anyone but the king tried to take cukes. Then one day the king wanted to test him so he went and farmer didn’t recognize him so killed him at once and then buried king under his house. And tradition is if they don’t know who is king then have elephant walk around and whomever elephant kneels before is the king. So elephant went to farmer’s house and knelt and everyone thought he was kneeling for the farmer but really was paying respects to the king.

We liked this temple, not so crowded.

Then went to Pre Rup, has 5 towers, much higher than others we saw. Big and steep stairs. From top nice views, green all around. Can see in distance one of towers of Angkor Wat.

Next was Banteay Kdei which is Buddhist temple. Not restored as well as others.  Long day, glad we got car with A/C for today.

Back to hotel around 5:15. Volleyball is popular here. Our hotel great but room has shower that’s just elevated by the fountain in the room, so wouldn’t be good to share other than with s/o!

Swam again, pool is one of those flush with ground, looks nice. There are rooms on pool/roof level. I had an ABC Stout, 8% alc and tasty. Then signed up for cooking class at Le Tigre de Papier and had dinner Angkor Palm. Sat outside on sidewalk, comfy wicker chairs. J got sambor curry with chicken and a Tiger beer, I had 7 plate sampler with a Beer Lao. Both lagers, solid. Then some sweet banana dessert that came with my meal and then we got ice cream at Blue Pumpkin (jackfruit with coconut/pistachio). Walked down Pub Street and over by food market and then across Sivatha St to Angkor night market. Couple places saw groups playing music that said mine victims. Night market has jewelry, t-shirts, carvings, etc. Fish foot and regular massages all over.

Exhausted, back to hotel around 8:40. Shorts with short sleeves at night and still hot.

11/23

Woke before 6 am and went to roof for sunrise but already had risen. Then walked through old market and saw food vendors setting up. Cutting meat, chickens, fish, fruit, etc. And a few places that serve food. Crossed river and walked around, went into tour office to inquire about getting to Phnom Penh and heard over 300 people died in Phnom Penh . Called J’s rents and found out it was a stampede from the boat festival. Lucky we planned trip in this order and smart we didn’t change it once knew about the festival. Walked around a bit more, that side of river is less touristy. Then back to hotel around 7:30 for breakfast. American again but also French toast instead of pancakes, which was delish. And really good coffee. We both agree we like this part of the world. Exotic feel, cheap, people seem peaceful and very deferential. Yesterday our guide sat in the front seat and had his seat so far forward to maximize J’s leg room, even though she didn’t need it.

Hotel dining area has that Indochina colonial feel.

Guide said our hotel used to be a nightclub/karaoke.

Today we’re taking a cooking class at Le Tigre de Papier ($12/p) at 10 am, which is in the alley.

About 8 in our class, teacher was Jenni. Started with walk through the market to show us things. J made mango salad then chicken curry, I made banana flower salad and Samlor Kteas (pork, coconut milk, winter melon, pineapple, broth, tamarind liquid, lemongrass paste which think had lemongrass, turmeric, lime kaffir leaves, red chili). A little tough to understand teacher but was fun and good value. Then sticky rice with mango for dessert. Ended around 1:30 pm.

There are lizards everywhere here. After lunch went to pool and got crappy piña coladas and read.

Afternoon went to Bodia Spa which is on side street near Blue Pumpkin. Got 90 min aromatherapy massages in one “room” with little wall type thing in between. $38 each is very steep for Cambodia , but place was nice and worth it. Nicer than eg Touch in BH where 60 min is $57 and you have to tip.

Then walked around a bit more and back to hotel to shower. Oh, after lunch also went to book store with illegit but cheap. I bought Kitchen Confidential and also The Lonely Planet Story for $11.

Had a glass of wine in room then went outside and got fried noodles with beef from street cart right in front of hotel. Bought water (about 50-60c for 1.5 litres) and looked for some pancakes without luck. Ate noodles in room, $1 fed us both dinner. Siem Reap definitely has some backpacker vibe but perhaps not quite as much as I expected, which makes sense given it’s a world famous cultural attraction. Not the same vibe as Thailand , at least in the islands or Khao San Rd.

11/24

Woke around 5:15 and got tuk tuk to Angkor Wat, arrived around 6:30. Beautiful weather on ride, ticket station empty where Monday was packed. Main entrance is on West so sun rises behind temple. Pretty clouds reflecting in the moat. Very crowded right inside gate but walked through and over to East entrance where not crowded and pretty. Saw some cows by the moat. Romped around for a while, went up steep wood steps to upper level once opened (think 8 am). Nice views. Scaffolding in many places which a bit of a bummer but oh well. Also saw tons of monkeys playing on East side of temple, very fun. Around 9:30 had breakie at Matthieu next to Chez Sophaea outside the temple (think Mathieu and Chez Sophaea are same). Great scrambled eggs, baguettes with jams and butter, latte and espresso. Peaceful spot, pricier than most but very civilized meal. Kenny just texted me that Thursday has been declared National Day of Mourning so we’ll see what that means.

Our tuk tuk driver is Naro (?), $13 for the day, didn’t bargain at all.

After late breakie we drove through Angkor Thom to Ta Prohm. The jungle temple, was fairly crowded but neat and liked it with trees growing all in and around. Feels more natural though is maintained whereas hear Beng Melea (sp?) farther away is more truly wild. Then around 12:15 went to Bayon (54 faces) and walked around a while. Hot and not ideal light but also less crowded than usual. Then walked back along rd to Bauphon and Elephant Terrace etc and got ice cream before meeting our driver. More restoration work and closed areas than I expected, in general. J was bummed 😉 she didn’t get to ride an elephant because have em in morning at Bayon but we kept on to Ta Prohm and when returned…

People use bikes and mopeds for a lot, eg sell sunglasses out of big case attached to back or grill food on a built in. Back to hotel around 2:30 pm.

Went to internet cafe around corner from our place. Good connection for $.75/hr. A number of work peeps, Cubell, Sharath, Cheech emailed to check in after stampede (reports now say 378 dead). Then went across street to Cafe Central which is open air (big windows with plantation shutters, kind of colonial vibe with the potted plants and wicker chairs) caddy corner from old market on Northwest. Got mango daiquiris and margarita pizza. Western menu with some local as well, slightly more expensive than some but seems nice. The pizza was ok, sweet potato pakora (like fritter with corn etc) with mint dip I loved. Around here, not that many Americans. Lots of Europeans and Asians and of course quite a few tour buses.

Back to hotel and washed a few clothes then up to pool where I read and J napped. Really nice on roof in evening when cooler and lights on. J slept a while and I read, back in room.

Dinner at Socheata on market. More authentic, J got fried noodles with beef and a jackfruit shake, and I got khmer chicken (with palm sugar), quite tasty. But also got green papaya salad which was awful. Think has some kind of fermented paste or something which to me tastes rotten. And reminds that on Monday at start of 1000 lingas hike our guide had me taste some liquid from a cut branch which was like sour glue tasting. Guess it’s supposed to help ease pain…hopefully more than it causes in the mouth. Later for us tonight, finished dinner around (gasp) 9:30.

There are other parts to Siem Reap we didn’t see, we really just did temples and stayed around old market area except a brief foray across the river yesterday morning. Didn’t do FCC or Hotel de la Paix or National Museum or any bars or restaurants on airport rd…

11/25

Breakie at hotel then check out and get in car with our driver, $85 to Phnom Penh with stop at Kompong Plukh to see flooded forest. Drove about 1 hour, nice to see more of Siem Reap and countryside. Driver used to work for UN and NGOs, think as…driver. KP about 6 km off rd, dirt with villagers around and a little market etc. Then stop at station and paid $20/each for entrance and boat tour on long wooden boat that has maybe 24 seats on wooden benches, two rows of 6 doubles. Just us and car and boat driver on our boat, each seems to depart with only a few tourists…not efficient but guess more full employment. Boat driver is orphan, maybe 16 years old and think paid about $85/month by government and boats til about 1 pm then goes to school. Driver says men get married usually 25 and up, women 17 and up. Often live with her family a few years to save money. He says KP is much better and less crowded than Chong Kneas floating village. He said no mosquitoes on lake now, only at night. Hope he’s right!

On drive to KP also pass turnoffs for the Roluos temples I think.

No mosquitoes confirmed. KP very cool and unique experience. Boat through narrow low tree-lined water lane maybe 20 minutes and then pass government buildings and then get to village, with wooden houses raised maybe 20 ft above water. Lots of kids. People live here to fish. Also saw some pigs in little floating pens, a couple little wooden dug outs with fruit. You pass a monastery on the way too, which is on land. Could get onto smaller boat without motor and go more inside the trees but we didn’t. Get out to open lake and just chill for a bit. Could swim but I was afraid of sickness. Then returned to land around 11:30 am. Funny how everyone is always hustling, but in pretty mellow way. Like our driver telling us can do Phnom Penh in one day and then one day go to Kep and islands and he could drive us and cheaper than if arrange through hotel…something about 35%.

KP has some other tourists but quite few, does not at all feel crowded or touristy.

Always fascinating to see a way of life without materiality. Really all you need is food and water, so if you can get that you just hang out and do odds and ends. And hope you don’t need much in the way of healthcare. See some hospitals and clinics around. Think guide first day said government provides care for everyone up to 15.

Boat has fine looking life jackets but nobody uses. Not a ton but of course see trash in water, and driver throws in his cigarette after a few puffs.

Saw a wedding at market by KP and then many more on the drive. Says they last 2.5 days. Real aggressive driver, no margin for error. And again wheel on right side (another Camry from Japan ). Road to Phnom Penh in pretty good shape. Speed limit 90kmh, sometime he goes about 100-110.

Our Monday tour guide asked a lot about how many lanes we have on our highways. And he laughed a lot at things we wouldn’t necessarily laugh at. And of course they’re amazed at the money we have. The top tax rate, hard to fathom someone can make $250k in a year. Seemed to have a negative view of Obama of late.

Lunch today at some place on the way. Looks like tourist stop but at same time pretty bare bones. Like big place with lots of big tree tabletops and stools but authentic menu and lunch with two sodas was $6 and bathrooms have hole in the ground.

Everywhere takes $ and quotes in $ but often give small change in riel and use interchangeably at 4000 riel per $…think now official exchange rate is about 4050. But at ATMs I’ve tried/used they only dispense $, so you can’t arb for the extra 1.25% 😉 Outside more populous areas and even some within you can buy petrol in plastic or whiskey type bottles.

Almost everyone seems looks healthy, at least where we’ve been very little evidence of war, and nobody is fat nor looks malnourished.

Pass through Kampong Thom which looks like decent sized city/town. River runs through.

At lunch J had fried noodles with veggies and I had spicy soup with fish. So so, fish had bones. I got spicy but was easily tolerated. Chili sauce generally hasn’t been that hot either. Either light for tourists or food not THAT spicy here or a bit of both.

Every Lexus SUV I’ve seen has big Lexus writing and logo on driver side. And some (all?) Land Cruisers as well. Not much military or police presence that I’ve noted. And granted we stayed in touristy areas pretty much and never out past 9:30 but Siem Reap felt very safe.

J noticed some houses are very plain looking with weathered wood but had brightly colored staircase.

Lots of monasteries in the country.

I’ve been reading Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know about/by Ranulph Fiennes, crazy badass explorer/endurance guy. J reading law school outline and Let the Great World Spin. She read I Don’t Remember Anything already, didn’t love it.

Most signs are in English and Khmer (Sanskrit derived I think).

Drive is pretty long, arrived at Blue Lime hotel in Phnom Penh around 5:15 pm, would say at least 5+ hours of driving. Phnom Penh is a real city. Bustling, a little intense.

Saw one KFC in Siem Reap and nothing else. Blue Lime is hip, little bit of Viceroy feel to me. Off alley near National Museum, lobby with couple couches and free computers then walk through pool area (infinity edge, like last place) with several little cabana types and our Room was 21 (last was 201) which is good sized with king bed and private plunge pool in back. $75/nite, but tomorrow we have to switch rooms. Took a dip and left around 6 pm, walked toward riverfront, got some eye drops in pharmacy and went to FCC for drink and ended up getting dinner. Happy hour 5-7, got Mai Tai and Passion fruit drink and strawberry mojito and Angkor Sunset, and 3 small plates. All in $22, pretty good, not amazing. Good spot, on corner on river with 2nd floor (as everywhere, what we call 3rd floor) bar and tables and open air and then rooftop terrace. Lots of white peeps there. After dinner walked a few blocks up riverfront then came back and turned in at Amanjaya. At next corner was spot called Derk Wang which had great looking beef bbq out front. Headed back to room and got home about 8:30. Still warm but nice breeze and a little cooler than Siem Reap. Phnom Penh seems cool, lots of activity, lots of street food. Nice big riverfront area with little park between street and river.

Were planning to do Friends for dinner and passed on walk home (right near hotel) and was closed so guess good decision.

Been taking 4-6 pepto/day and so far, knock wood, no stomach problems.

Rooms here are pretty spacious, concrete bed and grey tile floor. Funny because much more modern looking and has old tube TV where last place had Sony flat screen (maybe 37″ or so) with DVD player.

11/26

Woke around 6:45, ate included breakie out by pool. Coffee, passion fruit juice, bread with jam, scrambled eggs, fruit (banana, pineapple, watermelon, mango). Had to switch to a smaller room (#5, on 2nd floor) so ate then packed up and left bags in room and took tuk tuk to Russian market. Walked around a while, bought some t-shirts and J a top and wicker stuff and little lights to hang, and I got a $3 digi watch. Market has lots of clothes and scarves/throws, prepared and raw food, jewelry, auto/gardening/mechanical stuff. Stayed til about 11:30 then to Tuol Sleng (S-21), the genocide museum. In old high school right in city, pretty depressing. Spent about an hour then same tuk tuk back to hotel. $10 for the roundtrip.

Each place has outlets that take a regular plug. Saw some big houses, of course in middle of all and behind big gates.

Balance must be great because lots sit sideways on the back of mopeds. And sometimes see 3 or 4 peeps on a moped, some kids. Very non-aggressive or confrontational culture as far as I can tell.

Tried to go to Friends for lunch but sign says closed Nov 19-29. Bummer! Then were gonna go to where saw bbq last night but think they grill/roast all day and then serve at night. So walked back to river front and ate at Anjali, with seats side by side right on edge of sidewalk so can watch traffic and river. J got seafood fried rice didn’t like much, I got pan fried fish with kampot pepper and herbs and fries, liked it a lot. Also got shakes and my ice coffee were tasty. Maybe a little cooler / less humid here than in Siem Reap.

Saw a couple gay bars in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, good to see it’s tolerated at least somewhat, not sure extent.

Have barbers on side of street, think cut is about $1.25. And guy had a trimmer device but instead of electric power it’s connected to scissors handle looking things and he just opens and closes scissors over and over!

Toyota seems to dominate car market here, lots of Lexus, Land Cruiser, Camry, some Corolla and RAV4, think one sports car looking thing we saw was like a MR2.

Far bank of river has some truly enormous billboards.

After lunch walked and saw Wat Onaloum (sp?) but can’t go inside, then to National Museum . $3 entrance, liked it. History on country and Angkor , lots of old statues and carvings, lots of bronze and sandstone. Nice courtyard area. Then back to hotel to swim. Refreshing and sat in cabana but mosquitoes. Bites starting to add up. Each night until now our bed had netting around so am a little worried for these next two nights. From museum I wrote: Someone should make a movie about The Reamker, Indian story.

BlackBerry data hasn’t worked whole trip, phone and text work. Saw weekly newspaper at lunch, has listing of activities including music and art and pilates etc. Probably neat to be expat place like this.

Went to Chow/Quay on the river front for 7 Eleven at 7 pm (on Friday? only). Hotel, looks cool. Great rooftop with chill lounge DJ and chairs and tables etc and great cocktail menu. Happy hour so grapefruit basil martinis for $2.75! Dinner menu as well but didn’t eat here. And weather is great.

Talking about how mellow a culture. Serious city but never beef between tuk tuk drivers over customer, and no road rage at all. At most you see someone look at another driver as pass, but no cursing or gesturing or even muttering under breath. Not much begging. Lots of peeps trying to sell you stuff or give you ride but minimal begging.

Country blessed with almost no natural disasters. Minimal monsoon I think and not really anything else. GDP per capita isn’t necessarily a good measure of quality of life since only measures commercial transactions. If you grow fruit and catch fish and collect rain water and have no disasters or violence, your income and GDP contribution might be zero but your life aint so bad. Granted we saw areas close to lake and rivers and I’m sure some in countryside are “poorer” and in city it’s tougher life, but…think may also be an element of after Khmer Rouge peeps stick together and are so averse to conflict so…

Dinner at Van’s in old Indochina Bank building, just off the river. Fairly empty, nice space. Had smoked duck breast and scallops with passion fruit to start, then duck ravioli in sauce and boneless pork shank. Not bad, not blown away at all but pretty good. About $100 all in with bottle of Cotes du Rhone and water. Took tuk tuk here for $3, could probably bargain more and in general than we did.

After dinner went to Riverhouse Lounge. Fair number of bars etc right there. RL was two stories, paper said hip hop but more like top 40. Kind of cheesy yet young and attractive crowd. Were there about 5-10 minutes at 11:15. Many tables with bottles, all black label. Tuk tuk so easy to get when need one, standard rate around town seems to be $3. Hotel location seems really good, most places on/around river front are quite close.

11/27

Didn’t sleep so well, dogs howling and noise etc. Woke around 7:45, at breakie I had fried eggs. Coffee has been good everywhere. Took tuk tuk to Wat Phnom, the buddhist temple on a little hill paid $1 each to go in but seemed like if you came from different side it was free?? Nice decorations inside. Some monkeys around. J devastated that no elephants there that day, guess he was hurt. Then walked past US embassy and to Raffles hotel le royal. Nice place, cute cafe and shops, think elephant bar supposed to be nice place for happy hour. Right next to National Library which is closed on weekends, and across from biz school that’s in conjunction with Malaysian school. Walked South along Monivong past train station and tall Canadia building, then to Psar Thmei, the central market. Has big dome and then many arms shooting off, kind of more of the same. We bought quick dry shirts, scarf, table runner, bed decoration, t-shirt gifts. Got a coconut to drink, surprised how much liquid inside. Then walked over to Sorya shopping centre, a 7-8 story mall. Walked through Lucky supermarket, quite nice. Have these packaged meals to cook with meat, veggies, seasoning etc, for about $1.90. One store we went into (BS Fashion, haha) was not at all cheap. Then got ice cream cones at Swenson’s in the mall, solid if pricey for Cambodia. Can sit down and they’ll take your order. J got macadamia, I got this vanilla with pb thing and blueberry cobbler.  Then walked down St 63 several blocks, saw Dept of Plastic Arts and Handicrafts, and went East back towards river on St 240.

Some nice little shops, thought about lunch at Freebird (bar with Western menu) but went to The Shop which is great little cafe/bakery etc. Almost like an Urthh Cafe, but better. Seemed to be spot for either tourists or expats or both. Attractive crowd. J got baked brie sammy, I got roast pumpkin and goat cheese salad. Finished up about 2:15.

Really enjoying Phnom Penh , very much has the third world big city feel but manageable and pretty safe feeling and some hip spots / oases.

Went into some more nice stores…housewares, beads, women’s clothes. At corner of St 19 (?) is Red Apron wine shop and bar and then Rubies wine bar as well. Walked down to Royal Palace but didn’t go in, and tuk tuk guy tried to get us to go to some orphanage but we didn’t because unsure of truth and he said it was 20 minutes each way and tired etc. Walked back to hotel up St 178 and got home at 3:40…drained.  Pool.

Earlier today walking we passed used car dealer, prices crazy! Was like $40k+ for a 2004 Lexus SUV. Think an ’09 Camry was about $32k. Went out around 6 pm, grabbed some chicken on a skewer by hotel. Crappy part of wing, cost $.25 and not worth that. Then went into clothes store but didn’t buy anything and then finally the holy grail of Derk Wang bbq! On the same street as Friends but a little North, on a corner. Have cow roasting all day. I got small plate of meat, they serve it with sauces…one is like bbq, one like a lemon pepper with lime juice, another has lemongrass and chilis and lime juice…latter two they put together at the table. We each got a bottle of Angkor beer. They also serve cow innards, braised ox penis, and other things…we refrained. Solid.

Love how no stop signs or lights at all but a few major intersections, yet everyone just gets through. Quote of trip is definitely “hello, tuk tuk”.

Took one to Equinox on St 278 by St 51 (cool little area with bars, shops etc.). Close to Independence Monument . Right across from Elsewhere Bar where have big expat party think first friday of the month. Looks like cool spot with a couple pools and little beds/lounges jutting into them.

Equinox is 3 stories, we sat at bar on 2nd level which is open air and got pizza margarita and mojitos and then a bunch of Angkor drafts. Mekong Pirates is this reggae/funk band with almost a bit of Israeli sound and they went on around 8:30. Maybe 10 or so mainly white dudes and a Cambodian (?) female singer (but some guys sing too), music is in French. Lots of peeps there, seemed to be expats and maybe longer-stay backpackers. Great band and great vibe. Were a couple little kids there with parents, noted how you’d never see that in US but do see it abroad sometimes. Then went up on 3rd floor roof, beautiful night.

Around maybe 10 or 10 :30 walked across street and up to top level (3rd/4th floor) of Top Banana guesthouse and hung out at the bar. That was mainly longer stay backpackers, had bartender Todd from Albany who was very nice. We talked for a while with this guy from Seattle . Really fun. They had happy chocolate truffles on the menu but had run out, and when we left around 11:30 we had tuk tuk driver take us to river front to check out Happy Pizza, and everything was DEAD. FCC maybe was open, but every place else was closed, streets were pretty much abandoned, we were shocked since it was not even midnight on a Saturday. Not sure if most places just shut down early or if there was some effect from the stampede earlier in the week. Guy at our hotel desk suggested was the latter.

11/28

Nobody seems to tip, but I’ve generally been leaving change and maybe touch more at times.

Recalling our driver from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh when telling us about baby pigs we saw said that people buy them and “sponsor” them while they grow up before going to market. Sponsor, to become bacon…haha.

At breakie met a couple from CO (he grew up in Studio City, live Colorado Springs with place in Breckenridge), here a couple days before meeting up with small group for photo safari in Siem Reap then Myanmar.

Asia Life magazine seems good, helpful listing of events etc. That’s how we heard of the Mekong Pirates show last night.

After breakie went to Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. Pay $6.25 to enter, need to cover knees and shoulders. Pretty crowded. Nice buildings and architecture, not incredible but worth doing. Finished around 10, I bought the shirt I’d tried on last night (looks like button down with pullover, all one piece, $16) and back to hotel to shower and pack. It’s hot today.

Brought raincoat and zip off pants and pull over, aside from plane ride never wore anything but shorts and short sleeves.

Cab to airport was $10, takes maybe half hour. Ate sandwiches after security. Drinks there expensive, and have to pay $25 departure tax each.

 

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