To follow on from out trip report of Siem Reap to Kratie...
We leave Kratie early with our driver arranged by Cambodian Pride tours...the car is fine, quite comfortable but no English at all. It was selected as a "tour" rather than just a driver but the deal is we are supposed to tap the fellow on the arm if we happen to want to stop anywhere...not going to happen. We do stop off at a few places but this is mostly because the driver needs a toilet or a rest stop....and that s ok too.
I have anguished a bit on this trip over whether we have paid too much for a car and driver or a certain tour but in reality everything is so cheap that if you do overpay you realise straight away that if you were to book the same thing at home that the prices are ridiculously low and as long as you are safe and comfortable you are having a cheap, cheap holiday in any case.
The road is fine for about 3/4s of the way but eventually turns to roadworks and just so much
dust that you can't see anything immediately in front of you.
We pass quite a bad road accident with at least one fatality and are pleased to finally arrive in Phnom Penh in one piece after about 4 and 1/2 hours
Our hotel is the magnificent Pavillion and we have chosen a garden room with a tiny seating area outside our room which is inside a little gated area....it is just so perfect...we love it and at $50 a night including breakfast it is a steal.
We have planned nothing in advance for our stay but have a few things we know we want to see.
Our tummys are a bit upset so we decide to put the Killing Fields and S21 off for another day and choose to hire a tuk tuk for the whole day as this enables us to come and go as we please without having to barter on price. $25 for a whole day and it s a win win with a happy driver as well.
Start off at the Russian market but its quite hot inside, then on to Central market and its much cleaner and more organised here. My husband buys lots of tops and shorts.
Back home for a shower and change before we head off again for lunch (recommended by our tuk tuk man and is very good...and on the waterfront) then we go to two of the Wats
Next we make a stop at the National Museum a beautiful building with lots of interesting relics most from the Siem Reap temples (makes us really pleased that we visited Siem Reap ahead of Phnom Penh as we can put together the sights and names that we have already visited)
It is a gorgeous building and gardens and a very well put together museum.
Return back to the hotel again for a swim etc and then head out to the night market ...don't bother.
Its a heap of junk and we don't buy a thing but do head along the waterfront to one of the many restaurants. We chose the Grande River Restaurant and it s a nice spot for cheap cocktails and pretty good food too.
Next morning we are up early and have booked a car through the hotel to take us first to the Genocide museum (S21 a former school before it was used as this cruel prison) and then on to the killing fields (Choeung Ek Memorial) where you need to hire audio visual headphones to best appreciate the site at your own pace
It is very difficult to imagine the horrors of both these places but they are portrayed in such a sensitive manner we feel honoured to be able to visit and honour those who suffered such a horrendous fate. We find it difficult to imagine that this all occurred during our lifetime and makes you realise why the people, even today, are so resourceful and can eke out a living using anything and everything at their disposal.
There's a couple of survivors of the school/prison and you can buy their books which are a good read of how life really was. Very sobering!
But life goes on and we head back to town and our welcome little oasis in time for our very good massages and a swim before deciding on a change of pace for dinner.
We are a little tired of all the noodles so choose a North African dinner in the next street...Tamarind and we just love it. lovely hummus and nibbles followed by a very good lamb tagine and a couple of great cocktails...Mmmmm... banana daquiries!!
The next morning we wake so early and decide this would be a great time to visit the Russian markets again as we think we would like a few more souvenirs from here and this is the perfect time to visit as its not too hot. Tuk tuks are always available at the front door and almost always for only $3
We have a last lazy day around the pool and the sun lounges before our last night out on the river with Butterfly cruises who show us an amazing night out enjoying the sunset and being able to see the river put to use by fishermen, boat people who live on their boats and seeing the floating village up close. Its a very nice way to end up our visit to this wonderful city and for $15 each we meet some lovely tourists and enjoy a good night in great company but in fact theres only 6 of us in total on the cruise.
The boat stops at a floating bar and its very comfy to watch the sun set from a nice deck chair on this little floating deck. We cruise back and end up back on the waterfront and another great little people watching restaurant out on the footpath at the Mekong River Restaurant and a great meal for our last night too
(one word of warning....my husband was offered grass as we headed off to our tuk tuk to take us home and you wouldn't want to even act interested in this country...not knowing whether this guy was an undercover policeman or not ...just don't even think about it)
The other tip I found useful was I left home with over US$100 in one dollar bills and we easily used up all of these. We don't normally give tips but in this country everything is just so cheap that we felt compelled to tip for good service and/or room service but also its so handy to have lots of ones for tuk tuks, markets and the like.
We sadly leave the next morning but feel as though we will definitely be back to see much more of this wonderful country