A New Country? We Must Do Some Walking!

Trip Start Oct 02, 2012
Trip End Mar 31, 2014

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

After dumping our bags at our new home in Cambodia, the better-than-expected Hometown Hotel, we head out to find food and have a look around this exciting city. We keep our eyes peeled for our Italian stalkers/friends but they are keeping themselves out of sight it seems. The city is a mixture of space and congestion. Phnom Pehn was once known as the Jewel of Asia and we get glimpses of why as we stroll about. The main streets and boulevards are wide and impressive, giving the place a feel of grandeur and the Khmer architecture is a joy to the eye. The inner streets are crowded and congested and bustling with people, much like in its neighboring countries. The French designed the city layout during colonial times and it has left an impressive legacy, however over time the place has been caught up in the swirl of life and the once orderly grid system and streets have become disjointed and crazy in places. You can find a handful of separate buildings all with the same street number scattered along a road but it only adds to the city's charm. There are walled Buddhist areas where monks live, beautiful palaces and religious buildings, new modern structures and old crumbling Khmer stonework, filthy narrow streets and lush parks. There are much fewer bikes here and they have these four-wheeled things that we’ve heard people calling 'cars’. It is not at all what we expected to find and we are happy and eager to explore this new and wondrous place.

Having only eaten the world’s smallest banana on the boat ride here, Ian insists on grabbing a bite to eat before we explore further. We select one of the numerous eateries along the riverfront and scoff up some nice grub before walking further along the river. We stumble upon a massive roundabout which circles around the highest point in Phnom Pehn. It’s actually only a fairly small hill as the city is pancake flat! At the top is the temple Wat Phnom, standing a lofty 85 feet high. It is surrounded by a lovely park, complete with cheeky monkeys and the odd captive elephant for tourists to ride. We trek to the top of the hill and pay a dollar to enter the temple and have a look about. It’s fairly small but lovely and has a huge white Stupa at its centre. We see a big gold Buddha and some monkeys, which always makes Ian happy. At the foot of the hill there is a huge analogue clock planted in the ground as part of the garden. It’d be a nice place to eat on your lunch break and you’d have no trouble keeping your eye on the time!

Heading back we stop at a shopping mall and then at another eatery for even more food! Anna orders what can only be described as ‘A Roast Dinner Pasta Platter’. It has all the components of a roast dinner combined with a plate of pasta. It’s either culinary genius or madness. After Anna has championed her way through her two-dinners-in-one we sample the national beverage. Which is of course beer. Called Angkor. Or the slightly cheaper rip-off version called Anchor. Both are delicious. A good start to our Cambodian adventure.
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