Trip Start Dec 26, 2010
40Trip End Feb 03, 2011
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Back at Kep town centre, I snapped a bus ticket to Phnom Penh for just US$3.50 departing at 830am. The bus was right on the dot and in it sat Fadilah! She was not pleased with her stay at Kampot and decided to head up north to the rural Ratanakari asap. Midway to Phnom Penh, we stopped for lunch at the same hole three days ago and were swarmed by kids insisting we purchase their pineapples and mangoes. Your No-s will always be responded with an angry Yes! We managed to leave that hole without further verbal abuses in Khmer language. Although I was positive that some vulgaries were directed at us
Phnom Penh new market where Sorya Bus station is located, is a monumental mammoth of a concrete shell painted in dark yellow hue. It soon became my point of reference wherever I was on the streets. The tuktuk drivers were hard at work again trying to score my ride. I ended up US$2.50 poorer when my preferred guesthouse was full (in actual fact only the air con double room was available but I wanted to stretch my dollar). So we went "room shopping" for the next 30 minutes before I finally settled for Lucky Ro guesthouse near the old market, riverfront and Wat Phnom, ie pretty central to many bars as I found out later.
A brisk walk up to Wat Phnom and back to the old market for a dinner of fried ginger and frogs with rice, Phnom Penh was uncannily similar to Ho Chi Minh City but without the overcrowding and traffic congestion. Rundown shophouses in square grids dotted with endless street hawkers and food stalls. Tuktuk drivers with their empty carriages were plenty, constantly touting for customers as far as across the street. You can almost feel the eyes gazing down on you the moment you stepped out on the street, waiting to catch your eyes with a proposition. Obviously for a lone male traveller, the other propositions came too often. Your reply of "No thank you" will almost instantly be met with a revolting "Young girl, massage, bom bom". Apparently child prostitution is big business in here, fueled by tourists and locals alike (according to state reports) - usually a tragic case of family selling off underage daughters to reduce debt and/or making the child their breadwinner.
By 10pm I was totally smashed from exploring the riverfront (lined with endless classy restaurents and hotels) and dozed off with the Egyptian crisis footage on the news.