After seven weeks on the road, we finally encountered a couple of hiccups. Unfortunately, they struck at the end of a long day of driving, in a city which seemed to have no road rules and a lot of people, we encountered a couple of hiccups.
It took us two hours to navigate the mad streets of Phnom Penh and find our hotel…which turned out to be right where we started our hunt from and fully booked out. I learnt two things: #1 Agoda bookings take a while to reach reception, #2 some of the streets in Phnom Penh are split and a lot longer than maps suggest.
FOCUSING ON THE POSITIVES…
Much to our delight, the hotel owned another establishment just down the road…and it had a spare bed. Our new abode happened to be right on the Mekong River and around the corner from what appeared to be a vibrant 24/7 red light district. Awesome!
After an “interesting” night’s sleep in party central, we took to the streets to explore the local area. The Royal Palace happened to be close by and it turned out to be truly spectacular. The guards and monks politely smiled for photos. Local children and pigeons played in the front forecourt, which was hot enough to cook eggs on. It felt like a happy place.
Next, we discovered a glorious relic, perhaps the most beautiful building we’d seen throughout our trip so far. As we investigated its walls a little closer, they offered tales of horror from a bygone era. Bullet marks were peppered all over the place. Over the next few days, we’d undoubtedly learn more about their source.
After another couple of hours exploring Phnom Penh by foot, we’d had enough of the heat and decided to down some cocktails. We hit up the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, which offered a perfect view of the river and street theatre below. It also turned out to be a great spot for meeting other friendly travellers.
To finish off the day, we enjoyed dinner at “Friends Restaurant“. It had come recommended to us, and for good reason. Not only did it serve delicious meals which reminded us of home, it was also established to support and train marginalised youth. After our bellies were filled to the brim, we ventured next door to their retails shop. Most of the items had been hand-crafted by local parents, who needed money to keep their children in school. So, I treated myself to a much-needed travel bag and started the journey back to the comfort of my hotel room. I had nothing to complain about, really.