March 17th – 21st ~ Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The final leg of our Intrepid trip was to take a public bus from the beach town of Sihanoukville back to our starting point – Phnom Penh. Our touring with this group was over, so it was just a matter of saying our goodbyes to our new friends.
During the night, I got hit with some intestinal disturbances that pretty much wiped me out for 36 hours. Thankfully Tim had Imodium in his bag and Jenny had some anti-nausea medication. After taking the two drugs, we managed to get packed up and moved the short distance to our new accommodations, the Ohana Phnom Penh Palace Hotel.
We had two nights on our own, but will meet up with our next tour group, Gate 1, here on Monday evening.
I was grateful to have a couple of days to relax, recover and put myself back together. Right across the street from our hotel was a spa where I spoiled myself with a relaxing massage.
One hour for $8! Heaven!!
I also got a mani/pedi for $10 and all of our laundry washed and neatly folded to put back into our suitcases. Laundry rates vary from place to place. The rate is determined by the weight of your sack of dirty clothes. We saw them as low as 75 cents per kilo to as high as $2 per kilo.
Our new hotel has a balcony that overlooks the street. I think we are in the heart of the red light district. Tim had quite an entertaining first evening sitting out on the balcony watching the comings and going below.
It is a mixed bag of architecture, from modern to traditional city living.
At the end of the block is a farmer’s market. This market is for locals and it can be a bit off-putting to western sensitivities, so best to be prepared a little if you intend to wander through it.
I have been in quite a few third world country markets, but this one affected me more than normal. Perhaps because I was still feeling a little under the weather.
First of all, the smell may be VERY pungent. We happened to enter the side where fresh fish were being butchered and sold. The concrete floors are slippery with blood, goo, and who knows what.
But once you get past all of the raw animal products, hanging without any refrigeration, you can explore row after row of fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, clothing, food stalls, packaged food, and coffee venders.
You can also get your hair washed, cut or colored, or your nails done for “cheap, cheap, almost free”.
I thought that my system was pretty recovered after two days, but following the walk through the market, I found I had zero appetite for dinner last night.
Today we indulged in another massage. Tim got the lady I had enjoyed yesterday and was very pleased with his foot/leg/arm/shoulder/back/head massage. I unfortunately had a young, very inexperienced and indifferent girl who left me feeling disappointed. Oh well…
I think I will just have to have another massage before I leave SE Asia to make up for this 🙂
Walking along the main road that borders the riverside, which is literally only a few steps out the door from our hotel, was a way to spend a couple of hours. The heat slowly became oppressive and we used that as a good excuse to get a scoop of coconut ice cream. Nicely refreshing.
Also on the corner of 148th and Sisowath Quay, is a lovely restaurant that we enjoyed three very good meals at since arriving. Metro Hassakan is owned by Paul, an American expat from Florida. The menu is fresh, good variety and flavorful. Cleanliness standards are high, decor inviting, and the female staff are all dressed to resemble the Robert Palmer girls in the song Simply Irresistible, but all in black.
“Metro Hassakan – the place to meet in Phnom Penh. Stylish and cosmopolitan, it offers Asian fusion small plates and expertly mixed cocktails, while floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a wrap around patio provide an unobstructed view of the river.”
I would also highly recommend Friends the Restaurant, a sister training center to the one we visited upon arrival. They are helping get disadvantaged children off the streets and into a respectful career.
Please note that both of these restaurants are pricey by Cambodian standards, but very reasonable by US standards. Plus the quality more than makes up for the difference in price.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for clean clothes, feeling better, being refreshed and ready to meet our next tour group.
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