A return to Phnom Penh
We opted to return to Phnom Penh as its been over 10 years since we were here, and as it was a quick trip we wanted to take the time to enjoy Phnom Penh.
A lot has changed over the past 10 years, as one would expect. Much growth over the past 3-5 years according to one expat from Australia. You can see the new buildings being erected from both sides of the river, less beggars, although still there but not to the degree they were 10 years ago, and prices have increased quite a bit, or it could be us because we are now on a budget.
Anyway, I digress, we took the opportunity to visit places we missed in the last visit and we also needed to get a few things completed, such as laundry and booking our buses within Cambodia.
Next on our ‘to do’ list was heading to a travel agency to secure our transportation to Kep and to Siem Reap. We walked into a few travel agencies, and like Malacca, the agents were extremely uninterested in helping. By the the 4th agency we had found someone who could speak English and was ready to help. We were lucky to have walked into Khmer Views Travel, worth using just for their willingness to help. She booked our bus to and from Kep and to Siem Reap. Additionally, she booked a private taxi for the following day to see the Killing Fields.
We went back to the hotel to gather a few articles of clothing to donate to some of the local people. We had heard the Friendship store would receive clothing in decent/clean shape to help some of the local Cambodians. Mark donated a couple of shirts and pants to the cause (he over packed).
Feeling good about getting our obligatory tasks done we headed next door to the Friendship Cafe to grab a bite to eat. We determined after lunch we would head to the Royal Palace, only to discover, when talking about our last time here and looking at our Flickr photos, that we had been on our last visit. Scratch that off the list.
We decided to walk to the palace just to make sure, as it was only a couple of blocks away. Yup, we had been before, but as luck would have it, there was an old abandoned colonial building across from palace. The gates were open beckoning us to come and take photos. Yea, I know, another abandoned building but who are we to resist?
We walked up to this elegant building, snapping photos when out of the blue, this tiny, starving kitting comes to us looking for food. Unfortunately we had nothing to give her/him. She was so small, and felt so bad as I’m not sure how long this poor thing is going to live.
Upon walking up the stairs, the entry to the hotel was open, so naturally we walked in to take a peek. One could tell years ago this would have been a beautiful hotel. Large rooms, high ceilings, large foyer, this hotel would have welcomed the upper-class as they would have enjoyed the Royal Palace across the street.
Mark noticed guards on the other side of the hotel, and as we started walking out of the hotel, a Chinese man came out of nowhere and informed us that his boss was taking a tour and we needed to leave. I was able to ask a couple of question about the property, and he advised the hotel was over 100 years of age, and they may entertain renovating this hotel for future use.
It needs love but would be wonderful to see it come back to its former glory. Mark and I were fortunate as it was all about timing. Typically this is closed and we just happened to come across the open gate.
We then went to the FCC (Foreign Correspondents' Club) for a quick drink. One can only walk so much in 96F before needing a respite.
Later I had heard about a place where one can see free movies, and the draw was that they showed mainly documentary and foreign films. Originally I thought this was a movie house but it turns out it was the Meta House, a German Cultural Center, and one can view the upcoming movies. The movies we saw were about years under Pol Pot. The one we wanted to see was based on a UK photographer looking for his friend who was missing 40 years ago under the Khmer Rouge (Danger on the Edge of Town). Ended up staying for the next movie which was based on the singers during the same time (Don't Think I've Forgotten). Definitely recommend this to anyone visiting Phnom Phem. We looked at their calendar, we would be there almost every night if we lived here. It's probably equivalent to the Music Box in Chicago for documentaries and interesting films. They also have a menu which you can grab a bite to eat, as well as drinks.
Realizing we hadn’t eaten, we grabbed a tuk-tuk to take us back to our hotel. He dropped us off a couple of blocks from our hotel which was fine as we needed food and we were in front of a restaurant who still had their kitchen open at 10:30 pm.
All in all a good day.