4 Nights spent in Cambodia split between the Capital city of Phnom Penh and the better known Siem Reap. There are no trains in Cambodia so we took a 6 hour bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh. We get on the bus ($10), are seated in the first row, given a box of 2 bread-based treats, and are being serenaded by the one, the only, Mariah Carey. They had a TV in the front and it was playing old school music videos for the first couple hours, and since everyone knows how this made me feel I’ll spare you all the gushing. But seriously, Mariah – Brittney – Celine- S-Club 7 – a foreign replica of 98 degrees, etc. ALL in their best days. Oh man, okay okay, I’ll break here.
The journey was a bumpy one. Why I thought Cambodia would have paved roads I’m not sure. It took us an hour at the border to get the whole bus (and 7 other tour buses) through VISA approvals (waiting in hoards of body odor watching men in uniform aggressively stamp things) and then we were off again. We got into Phnom Penh around 2 and thanks to Haleys tripadvisor addiction, went to the best place for lunch. It was an organic raw superfood juicery with the freshest food and drinks, exactly what we wanted after so much traveling, nutrient overload!
I regrettably did not have much excitement for Phnom Penh, through word of mouth it seemed more of a stopover on your way to Siem Reap rather than a place you spend more than 1 or 2 nights in. I was expecting a dirty, dark city littered with tragedy and poverty stemming from the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that they were able to start rebuilding after the Cambodian genocide and all around repulsive rule of the Khmer Rouge. We did not have time to make it over to the “Killing Fields” but heard it was definitely something to see if you are ever in Cambodia. Not a happy day trip, but a very educational, eye-opening, and emotional experience.
We spent our only night in Phnom Penh as you should, scouting happy hour deals and drinking with the locals (expats or not). After a couple Cambodian Brews we found ourselves in a tiny room that fits only a tiny bar. This tiny bar, called Templar, had 3 female Cambodian bartenders who were extremely nice and funny. The place is run by a 49-year-old British guy who lived in a lot of places in Southeast Asia but found his home in Phnom Penh. He is also about to marry one of the girls he hired, she is in her early 20’s, the wedding is 3 days long, and there is 17 outfit changes. He said he’s looking for a doppelganger for that part. Anyways we got 3 top shelf cocktails that were some of the best we’ve ever had, all for 6 dollars total. We really, really like Cambodia. Thanks to Carl, all his girls, and the other guys at the bar for a great time!
Woke up in the morning and went for a very humid, lung sucking run along the river. It was really nice to be able to run without worrying about motorbikes beeping at you or a Tuk Tuk running over your toes. Went back to the juice place for breakfast, Artillery, and got a slamminnnnn’ breakfast and juicey. Back on the bus for the 7 hour trek to Siem Reap. Phnom Penh was way better than I expected, we could have spent another day there easily. I was most excited to see the contrast between the people of Vietnam and the people of Cambodia (if it even existed) and I was glad the Cambodians seem to be friendlier and less pushy. A very poor country, but the people are more pleasant and less aggressive with wanting your money, they more so just want to talk to you.