Between Kampot and Siem Reap, I stopped off again in Phnom Penh. As the country’s capital, virtually all bus traffic flows through here. I arrived late in the evening, although we should have arrived at 4PM. The bus had to drive about 40km/hr after the bus did a full 90° spin on the road after swerving to avoid a pothole. I would have been more upset but due to some confusion at the bus terminal, I was ushered on to the bus without ever having paid for my ticket. I suppose you get what you pay for.
The bus “accident” got everyone on the ride much not interested in talking to each other so by the time we pulled into Phnom Penh, I had found a group of people all heading to the same neighborhood so we could split our tuk-tuk fare.
I checked into my new hostel, one of nicest I’ve ever been in, but only stayed a few nights (to save myself from my own addiction to cities). However, I was still able to see and do quite a bit before moving onto temple hunting in Siem Reap. Here are some highlights…
History Lesson at The Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
Do you know what happened in Cambodia under the rule of the Khmer Rouge? If you’re like me, you could recall history lessons in school about the period of communist takeover in Cambodia and targeted mass genocide of intellectuals and anyone who was suspected to oppose the leaders. But maybe you never really fully comprehended the scale and brutality of the acts that were committed under Pol Pot’s regime. A visit to the The Choeung Ek Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum will fill you in on all of these facts and leave you with a lump in your throat at the end of the tour.
Cafes in the Daytime
I would not be myself if I did not attempt to uncover at least a handful of the hip coffee shops in a new city I was visiting. Here’s a few favorites.
Kettle Bell Cafe – Owned by Corbett, who sat next to me on the flight here. It’s connected to his gym next door. Here I got a flat white and chatted with two professors teaching civil rights who gave me some great tips on traveling through Vietnam.
Lot 369 – Located right next to Kettlebell Cafe. Has arguably much better coffee here but less of an opportunity for conversation. Here I finished a new book I picked up at a shop in Kampot (‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgramage’ – Haruki Murakami)
Tarrazu – Located just a few blocks away from my hostel in BKK1. I picked up an iced coffee to go from their Kyoto dripper and drank it on my way to the Vietnamese Embassy.
Tini – Tini-Tiny Tokyo inspired upscale cafe near Russian Market. My macchiato even came with a glass of seltzer.
Bars in the Nighttime
My favorite evening saw me back at Bassac Lane of off Street 308 that I had previously visited with Sharad. Now, I was able stay up to a normal party hour and got to catch a rock cover band play Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, and David Bowie. The lead guitar player is in the featured picture above.
Notable mentions of other activities:
- Arranging my visa for Vietnam in 15 minutes
- Mistaking laughing gas for helium at Top Banana
- Art and history at the National Museum
- Running into two separate people from the beach in Sihanoukville. In both cases, I was remembered as “the guy who was dancing”
- Stumbling into a Wat that apparently contains an eyebrow hair from the Buddha
- Blind masseuse at Seeing Hands
- Navigating the Russian Market to find soup
- Combining my last two drinking cultures visited with an Angkor Chelada