Phnom Penh | Markets, Boxing and Museums

The bus from Battambang to Phnom Penh was fairly smooth sailing minus the hour delay waiting for our pick up. Eventually, we were on our way and as we arrived in the city it felt good to be back in amongst the chaotic South East Asia. After trying and failing to use the “Pass App” we got in a Tuk-Tuk and made our way to our hostel. 

The room we were given had a musty damp smell however it seemed clean and was well located. As we went downstairs Sam found a copy of the third Game of Thrones book so quickly picked it up and pretended to exchange it for another before we set out for the night market on the river in Phnom Penh. Here we found an abundance of knock-off clothing, a stage with singers but no one watching and multiple food stalls all selling noodles and rice for $1. Families surrounded us sat on the covered floor in amongst the tourists and as we enjoyed our meal, people came round trying to sell us drinks and their wares. We headed back to the hostel exhausted from our day’s travels, grabbed some fried chicken from the side of the road and went to bed. 

The plan for the second day was simple, go to the central market and look at things we wanted to buy but couldn’t fit in our bags. The market itself was huge, with each section being devoted to a different type of product. Here you could find anything from fake high-end electronics through too live chickens all for next to nothing. We spent a good couple of hours browsing the clothing before finally looking for some food, somehow missing the entire food section and ended up paying a fortune at the restaurant over the road, which we later found out was directly opposite the food hall we were looking for. When we arrived back at our hostel we heard there was live boxing for free we could see, this was when we were fortunate enough to meet Sammy and Bojana. We ended up piling 6 of us into a Tuk-Tuk only to be driven the completely wrong direction, we then had to change tuk-tuk’s after arguing with the driver and our second attempt ended up with us going to the wrong recording studio. Eventually, we made it to the event arriving in the second round of the first fight. The fights, although exciting, were somewhat delayed by the awful padding that goes on in Cambodian TV with singers and prize giveaways. After the final fight, we headed back to the river-front and found some food at what became a reliable source of fried flour noodles. 

The next day started with a coffee while the others from the night before had a very experimental breakfast of pork porridge before we headed off to find an Indian breakfast that we had been craving since Malaysia. After this, we set off to see Phnom Penh’s most famous sites… The Killing Fields and S-21. The killing fields gave us a very good idea of the scale of the genocide whilst being treated as a place to learn and reflect rather than a place to mourn. S-21 was a more powerful image that doesn’t sink in until after you’ve left and had some time to really understand what you saw. The only frustrating thing was the tour groups with their microphones who were getting increasingly loud and blocking rooms and entrances the way round. The day as a whole however was a very sobering experience, seeing the sites of mass genocide and meeting survivors at S-21 is definitely something that will stay with us for years to come. That evening we went out for a beer with Bojana and Sammy before going to a local market and buying a 1/4 chicken each with some rice and greens. We spent the evening drinking on the riverfront and eating our street food before going back to our hostel for one last beer and a game of pool before bed.

Our last full day in Phnom Penh arrived and we started it by going for another Indian breakfast of roti’s and a spicy dipping sauce. We then headed back to central market to look for water bottle holders (the best invention ever) and got a tuk-tuk to the Aeon shopping mall before walking to Mad Monkey hostel and checking out the area Jess had stayed in the first time she was in Phnom Penh. That night we went back to the flour noodle restaurant with Sammy and Bojana and arranged to meet for breakfast again so they could show us another food spot they’d been raving about – with the porridge in mind we didn’t know what to expect!

Our final day in Phnom Penh started with hearing that Sammy had caught scabies and their room was infested with bed bugs. We set off for the market via a pharmacy collecting a medical soap incase we’d caught anything from the hostel. The food stall they had in mind was offering fish and pork blood soup and fresh “parcels” of vegetables and pork with noodles wrapped in rice paper. We ended up getting a few fresh parcels and a couple of fried spring rolls with an iced coffee. The next few hours was spent waiting for our bus, having a beer and chatting round a table at our hostel. Fortunately the bus arrived somewhat on time and we were en-route to Kampot. 

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