We entered Cambodia yesterday, Monday, and arrived at our dock in Phnom Penh around 7:00pm. The cruise director had announced earlier that we were free to leave the ship after dinner for a couple of hours, as long as we respected his 11:00pm curfew. While some of the other passengers planned to walk over to the nearby night market, we had a different plan with our little (1) group.
At someone’s suggestion (not mine), we decided to go to a rooftop bar for cocktails. Never mind that we had no idea where a rooftop bar in Phnom Penh was to be found, or even if there was one.
We never found a rooftop bar.
Albane and Andy decided that they could figure it out, so we all (!) climbed into a tuk tuk and they somehow got the driver to go to an address they found on the internet. The address turned out to be a nondescript building at the end of a dark alley, so we got back in the tuk and started driving again.
Every time we saw a tall building with bright lights, Albane would decide that was the rooftop bar and direct the driver – who spoke only Khmer (2) – in that direction. We finally disembarked in front of a place packed with people, some in cocktail dresses, and went in, certain it was our destination. After being led to, and walking through, an underground shopping center, we realized it was simply a casino, and there was no rooftop bar to be found.
We had our cocktails in the bar back on the Jahan.
The next morning we said goodbye to our Swiss friends and the Jahan. As our flight wasn’t until 2:30, we were able to fit in a short morning tour of Phnom Penh. We were picked up by the usual guide-and-driver team and went off to see the sights.
The royal palace was pretty impressive. Cambodia still has a king, although he is apparently just a figurehead. The palace complex, where he actually lives (3), is a number of quite beautiful buildings.
From there we went to the national museum, which housed a lot of old Hindu and Buddhist statues, and which took us all of 15 minutes to walk through (4). And then a temple. The last part of the tour was to be the local market, but we’ve already seen too many local markets.
We prevailed upon the guide to show us some non-touristy things, and he finally lead us through some small alleys in a poor section of town. From there we went to the airport to fly to Siem Reap.
(1) In addition to Elizabeth & Andy, Sally befriended another Swiss woman, Albane. Also lovely.
(2) Khmer is the language of the Khmer people, who are what we call Cambodians. We had English, German, French, Italian and Japanese amongst us, but no Khmer.