Well, I arrived in Cambodia from the Mekong on the evening Friday 12 February with my new UK friends, Ben and Sami. We got settled in at the Sky Park Hotel in Phnom Penh (PP). I decided to venture out and try to find an ATM machine. PP appears to have no traffic rules which can make it quite adventurous to try and get anywhere on foot. Pedestrian safety in PP compares greatly to that in Boston. Needless to say, I never was able to find an ATM (or cross a busy street for that matter). We all decided to take a tuk tuk to find a place Ben had read about in "The Book" aka Lonely Planet.
Awoke the next morning, Saturday, to the quietness and beauty that PP exudes. For a large Asian city, it is amazingly calm and clean. Ben, Sami and I headed out on foot to do some sightseeing. We stopped by a beautiful oasis of a temple in the middle of PP, amazed at the beauty and serenity hidden safely within the old stone walls.
We ventured down to the city's unfortunate looking (Thanks, Aunt Marie for use of the term) river view. The walk caused us to have a thirst quenching stop along the river where we were entertained by a cute Cambodian girl. At ten years old, she spoke 4 languages but was hawking books and DVDs to help her family. Her smile was genuine and beautiful.
(Note the disapproving look from the fellow bookseller)
One thing that I will take a way from this trip is how genuinely happy so many people are despite their lack of those things that we Westerners seem to feel necessary to happiness. Most work seven days a week but don't seem to mind. they go home to (or even work with) their families and the tightknittedness (is that a word?) of their families is amazing.
Anyway, after spending 30 minutes talking and bartering with the cute girl, her co-worker got frustrated and a genuine Cambodian turf war broke out. Happily for us, cutie prevailed!
Seeing this as a good time to make our gracious exit, we moved on to finish off our sightseeing day with stops at a bookstore, and a few other temples.
Peeling the girls away from Sami was harder than you can imagine, requiring the brute strength of Ben and me. Nevertheless, we ventured down the streets of PP and happened upon Cambodian popstar's mall concert. Very funny and impromptu.
After the show, we settled into a place, again filled with locals, that proved to be a wonderful find. Cheap, delicious, Cambodian food and wonderful, welcoming people. One of the unexpected highlights was a young boy who proceeded to dance through the night while watching the music played overhead. Ben took most of the photos while Sami and I relished the unexpectedness of this wonderful night.
Alas, it was time to call it a night and rest up for our Sunday in PP.
Sunday, my last day in PP for now, started out slow for all those involved. I think we all felt like this guy.
Sami, Ben and I headed to the Royal Cambodian Hotel for some poolside rest. A beautiful swimming pool was just what all of us needed and this place fulfilled the mission we asked of it. On the way back from a day poolside, we were driven by a wine bar that seemed to call out to us all. After getting cleaned up, we headed back and found it to be quite enjoyable. We shared a bottle of nice red wine while watching evening set upon PP.
Next stop.....Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor Wat! Be well, my friends.