Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh tends to be overlooked in favour of the tourist friendly city of Siem Reap, which has the pull of Angkor. Traditionally referred to as ‘the pearl of Asia’, today Phnom Penh is gritty, dusty and a bit rough around the edges.
We ended up visiting Phnom Penh on two separate occasions and stayed in two different areas, which meant we dug a little deeper and our appreciation for the city grew.
We arrived in Phnom Penh from Ho Chi Minh City and had a wonderful introduction to the city and it’s people. We wandered to the park area in front of the Royal Palace, where we sat down in the shade of a tree. It wasn’t long before three women came and sat right by us, followed by two monks.
The women offered us some mandarins, which we shared together and we learnt a few key note phrases from them and the monks. If the mandarins weren’t enough to buy our affection, they then told us how ‘cute’ we were – day made. We chatted for about half an hour and the group moved on, but it was so nice to start our time in Cambodia with such friendliness.
We spent our time in Phnom Penh walking along the riverside, admiring the Royal Palace and dodging pigeons, battling our way through the Russian Market, being very unimpressed with the food at the night market and stalking Monks to get a good photo (that was Tim of course).
We also took a day to visit S21 and the killing fields (we will cover this in a separate post) and this day became the most harrowing and confronting of our travels thus far.
Coming from Vietnam, we quite quickly noticed the wealth difference between the two countries and would continue to learn more about the Khmer people and how much they have suffered during our time in Cambodia.