Our base in Phnom Penh: Manor House, was an absolute delight. Being a true boutique hotel it had just 12 spacious and clean rooms, of which most were empty, meaning we got a great personal service for the entirety of our stay. Not only was Manor House walking distance (for the brave) to all the main sites, my number one priority in life was also met; their food was top notch 🙂
For breakfast I opted to dive head first into Khmer cuisine, by trying their version of ‘porridge’, which is better described as rice and pork soup. Although a little odd to have first thing, is was bursting with flavour and did “give me energy for the day” as the menu promised. Just as well seeing our first day proved to be suitably cram packed, despite being a little jet lagged: We were off to immerse ourselves in ancient Cambodian history at their National Museum.
Day 1 – The National Museum of Cambodia
Fortunately we opted to go with the optional audio guide as part of our visit, as there was little to no information available on signage throughout the museum. A number of pieces were beautiful and it was interesting to hear the stories behind them, although there was a distinct lack of variety. There’s only so long one can remain interested, when repeatedly browsing through the same statutes of Hindu Gods over and over again.
At least I was able to provide a bit of light hearted entertainment: by begrudgingly accepting a flower from a women seeking donations, then placing it back in the vase where it came from and pretending to pray in the process, to the bewilderment of everyone around us!
Day 2 – The Killing Fields and Genocide Museum
Our second day was to be a rather somber affair, as we visited both the Killing Fields and Genocide Museum, commonly referred to as S21. Again we opted to pay extra for the audio guide, which was brilliantly narrated together with witness accounts.
Although it was difficult to learn about the sickening acts of torture and murder carried out under Pol Pott’s Khmer Rouge regime; we recognise the importance of remembering what happened, in an attempt to avoid it reoccurring again in the future.
Day 3 – The Russian Market
We decided to spend our third and final day pottering about in the Russian Market. As expected it was heaving with Cambodian trinkets, high quality knock off goods and lots of edible delights. We had no choice but to grow accustomed to a barrage of “Hey lady, hey mister, t-shirt two dollars”, every time we turned a corner.
Despite our patience growing thin, Joella successfully purchased some brightly coloured trousers and skirt, with the help of my epic bartering skills (my Scottishness shone through). Pulled pork bao, fries and cocktails by the poolside kept us happy for the rest of the afternoon.
Although we found Phnom Penh intense at times; we soon warmed to it’s contradictory vibe – hectic yet chilled out, and not to mention the friendly and courteous people that live there.
Next stop, Siem Reap!