3rd Stop - Never Trust A Stranger In Phnom Penh
Trip Start Aug 12, 2010
24Trip End Aug 15, 2010
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After clearing all the checks without a problem, came out of the airport where I had met my tour guide. Seemed like a decent chap, anyway this guy had nothing to gain from me when I had paid for all services to be rendered from my travel agent in Malaysia including his tips. Liquor shops are abundant everywhere. I bought a small half liter Johny Walker from the airport which had cost me USD 7. Everything is in USD here and they would even provide you the change in half USD and half Cambodian money (Riyal). 4500 Riyal is equivalent to 1 USD.
I was then escorted to our car which was a new Toyota Camry, not bad for the price I paid. Guess everything is somewhat cheap here. We drove through the main street and then went into a smaller street, not very small though but smaller than the main streets. I was supprised to see the name of this street. It was Jawarlalhal Nehru Blvd. Interesting, I wonder besides being connected to India via Hinduism roots which are strong here, how else did the political connection come in order to have a street name as such. All other street names are those of the Cambodian Kings.
We kept driving and the traffic was quite bad, mainly contributed to the late arrival of my flight at around the time that offices here closed. We then went over to the Independence Monument which is near the Olympic Stadium. Don't be fooled by the name, its a small stadium built in the 1960's. This monument is just beside the Parliament House as well. This area seems to of great contrast to the streets which we had past earlier. I was informed by the tour guide that this is the rich man's area. In fact the Prime Minister's house was clearly visible at the end of the road. It is at this Independence Monument that the National Day is celebrated here in Cambodia every year.
The Independence Monument was inaugurated in November 9th, 1962 to celebrate Cambodia's independence from the foreign rule. Renowned Cambodian architect, Vann Molyvann was the architect of the monument. The Independence Monument now also serves as a monument to Cambodia's war dead. It is the site of colorful celebrations and services on holidays such as the Independence Day and Constitution Day.
From the monument, not very far from there, we went to Naga Resort which is the main casino here. Up till two years ago, locals were not allowed into the casino as it was built to serve only foreigners. But now, that ban has been uplifted. I reached the resort at 1750. It is also a hotel, perhaps the most expensive hotel here in town. I walked around the casino area for around 20 minutes but did not lay my hands on anything. This is where I started observing every Cambodian on the street trying to swindle the foreigners here with various other 'services' which may only cost them 10% of that fee charged outside this place.From here onwards I kept an eye for this details where ever I went and saw this practice. Otherwise, Cambodians are nice people, very soft spoken and well mannered.
Even when I was just to enter this resort, the sky was already like night, pitch dark. I was informed that usually this time of the year, night falls around 1745 every day. After the brief walk inside the casino, I was ushered to the 2nd floor of this resort for buffet dinner. Probably the earliest dinner I have had in my life. The food was good, variety excellent. All local dishes and they taste lovely, no Chinese or Thai flavors involved, they have a style of their own here when it comes to cooking. After the sumptuous dinner, we left the hotel at 1845 and it had already started raining very heavily. The streets were flooded with 1 foot high water. And I was informed that this is a daily scenario here anytime it rains continuously for 30 minutes.
Somehow, we slowly maneuvered the car through back lanes and alleys and reached the hotel at 1915. This hotel was beautiful too. Please check the photos for the quality of the rooms. Had a nice warm shower and was glancing through a Cambodian Travel Guide which I had picked at the hotel reception. I was trying to see if I had all the places covered in my itinerary or I would need to inform the guide to add more places. The good thing is that I was a solo traveler and I could demand to visit the places I wanted as long as it is within the agreed jurisdiction and don't exceed further, otherwise, I would need to top up on fuel directly. Fuel prices here are very high too, it is around USD 1.10 per liter.
After finishing my brief research, just came down to the lobby to use the public computers and internet service available complimentary to guests of the hotel. This is where I am updating this blog as well. Hmm...the bar here looks interesting and the pricing seems very attractive too. I saw an advert here which says buy 3 Angkor Beers and get 1 free. Only USD 0.30 per bottle. Thinking shall I try, maybe Ill do it. Anyway, I am only meeting the guide at 9.30 am tomorrow.
Hope to update tomorrows events as well the same time tomorrow night and till then Cheers...the beer seems to be very inviting.
P.S. Once in the pub, sadly I was told that they close at 11pm and it was already 10.15. So, all I could do was have 3 beers which had cost me USD 1.50 including taxes and then went up to the room to continue with the whisky which I had purchased at the airport.
All the time in the pub I was asked if I want MJ and Boom Boom. I never really understood what they actually asked me. Because I was not only posed this question here in the pub but also earlier when I was walking in the streets. I then called on one of the waiters and asked him what they were. Boom Boom means 'women' and MJ means Marijuana. Luckily I never said yes to one of these requests both here and in the streets. I have read before that in Cambodia, there are two types of prostitutes, Vietnamese and Combodian girls. On average, 7 out of 10 are positive with HIV. Good to stay away.
Finally, called it a night at 12 midnight.