One day in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh Travel Blog

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Our first 24 hours in Cambodia had begun with an annoying bus experience which we've written about separately. Our arrival in Phnom Penh saw us mobbed by tuk tuk and moto drivers all offering the usual, cheapest ride, cheapest and best guesthouse, blah blah blah. They were much more aggressive than the vietnamese versions and wouldn't take no for an answer and just kept on and on. Very rude and very annoying. Not a good start for our opinion of Cambodian people to be honest with you. The area we wanted to stay in was just a short walk from the bus station so being relatively healthy and young enough we set off on foot much to the annoyance of the tuk tuk mafia. We past a cashpoint machine on the way and drew out some money and instead of getting Cambodian Riels it seems that cash machines here dish out US dollars. That says more about the state of the Cambodian economy than any statistics ever can. That said in 2005 the average life expectancy was just 57 years and average annual income was US$310 which is pretty shocking. You kind of get the feeling that there have been big changes since then though. We had a bit of trouble finding a suitable room but when we did we got a clean double bed room with aircon and ensuite all for US$8 per night which is ridiculously cheap for us coming from Vietnam where you'd have to pay at least double for the same standard of room. One of the first things we noticed about Phnom Penh is the unbelivable number of disgusting 40 year old and over men that are here as sex tourists. It never ceases to amaze how these sicko's have no shame or sense of social responsibility. Ok everyone has the right to a sex life, there is nothing wrong with that. In certain circumstances a case can even be made for prostitution, but these guys brandish their whores like trophies and the disgusting 'cat that got the cream' looks on their faces is stomach churning. The fact that these guys feel no shame and the locals see them as the prominant image of westerners makes it so much worse. Don't get us wrong we've seen this in Hong Kong and Vietnam as well but in nothing like the numbers or concentration of Phnom Penh.

Having checked in so late in the evening we didn't have much time to explore and just did a quick circuit of the streets around our hotel and it was quite weird as there are no street lights in Phnom Penh which was a new experience. We found a restaurant which was ok but we  have realised that whilst the rooms are super cheap the food and drink is much more expensive, maybe it's because all transactions are priced in dollars, either way it's a bit strange.

Next moring we set off to do some sight seeing but wanted to book our ticket south first, we found out that the prices were almost doubling the next day so we changed our plans and decided to save some money and head south straight away. We managed to get seats on the 2.30 bus which gave us only a little while to pack and eat before getting to the bus pick up. The bus journey was a nightmare. First we had two kids and their hopless mum stuffed into the two seats behind us,(we've decided that kids should always be packed in with the luggage as they are so disgusting and annoying on any form of transport, that or tied to the back and dragged along) secondly there was delightful (not) Cambodian music and TV blaring the whole way, (this stuff just goes right through earplugs believe us)! Eventually we arrived about four and a half hours later for more hassle and rudeness from tuk tuk drivers. The only comfort with the tuk tuk drivers is you look at them and think 57 years buddy just 57 years!
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Phnom Penh
photo by: terminalfunk