Phnom Penh Day 1

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Almond Hotel

Flag of Cambodia  , Krŏng Phnum Pénh,
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Phnom Penh (1) – Cambodia

A 7:00am departure for the jetty to board our speed boat that will take us into Cambodia via the Mekong. We bid farewell to Long (our guide) and our driver.

They have to complete a 7-8 hour road trip back to HCMC from Chau Doc.

Our speed boat is slightly over booked and with 25 people sharing 20 comfortable seats inside the cabin, the remainder move to wooden benches are the stern of the craft. We each receive a lunch pack consisting of water, cake, fruit and refresher towel. It will take us approximately five and a half hours to reach Phnom Penh from Chau Doc.

Boat trip is USD21.00 for the journey. The crossing of the Vietnam Cambodian border is an interesting one, even though I have passed this way before. On board is an official who collects our passport and has an arrival/departure card for completion. We do this and hand this back to the official. The speed boat draws into a landing and we are asked to disembark and after climbing a ladder we wait for quite some time whilst being processed. One can exchange money to Cambodian Riel, have some refreshments or just sit talking. Then we are asked to board the speedboat once again, still without passports but knowing we have been cleared from Vietnam. The speedboat travels a few hundred meters down the river and once again draws into a jetty where we are asked to disembark. We stand around and finally reunited with our passports and Cambodian arrival card, which then enables us to proceed to the office window to have numerous stamps placed upon our passport and our exit card stapled to our passport.

When all the tourists on the speed boat have been processed we are asked to board our boat once again for our remaining journey to Phnom Penh. The entire process took from 8:35am to 10:00am.

Travelling this way provides an interesting landscape albeit that the river banks are quite high and it is difficult to view the fields beyond. However there is a chance for photography, capturing the water buffalo being washed and cooled near the river band and of silhouettes of different carts and people on the high banks.

On reaching Phnom Penh we met our guide "Chinda" and she took us to a delightful restaurant on the river bank called 'Titanic'. The difference in food was the first thing noticed by the group.

No rest however, for we booked into our hotel (Almond) and then Chinda had us off visiting the Royal Palace and grounds including the Silver Palace where a gold Buddha stands encrusted with over 2,000 diamonds. In the grounds we are shown a ‘Stupa’ which is used to hold ashes of those royals who have been cremated.

Before returning to the hotel, we visited Phnom Penh Hill - Phnom meaning ‘hill’, Penh meaning ‘lady’.

Some of the group elected not to join us for dinner so I organized two Tut Tuts and took the remainder to a restaurant along the river front.  

Stopped just outside the Castle hotel where a group of Australian actors, notably Joel Ediston was just finishing a film shoot.  Relaxing beside the busy river front road enjoying a meal sitting at tables on the footpath concluded our first day in Cambodia.
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