An easy transition into the wild and chaotic realms of Phnom Penh is to stroll along the riverside and take in the rare fresh breezes of fresh air. Which riverside? There are four rivers encircling the city – upper and lower Mekong, Tonle Sap and Tonle Bassac – although the Mekong would be the most obvious choice.
A short boatride upstream is a small silk farm, interesting if you have never seen silk in the making before. The tourguide was a bit weird and not very likable, unfortunately. Still, seeing kids play in the water with their farm animals makes my day everytime. See huts and run-down boats in front of a hotel fit for Vegas, and children selling peanuts in front of the Foreign Correspondence Club where tourists and expats slurp their afternoon cocktails. This is Cambodia, where many have little and few have everything else.
Back in the city, the riverfront rises a grand curtain for the best people watching show. A favorite amongst young couples, families and hat-wearing grandpas. Go in the afternoon because shade is non-existent, but snack vendors crowd the pavement to set up refreshment stations and nibblings for cheap. Sugarcane cubes, snails, sweets and peanuts, there is something for everyone. No need to go to the FCC (Foreign Correspondence Club) – it’s overprized anyways. Besides, how are we supposed to admire the cool French colonial façades from inside the houses? Just ignore the tuk-tuk drivers and all is well.
How to keep all those sugary drinks and fresh fruit cool? Meet the original ice man, saving the day with four large blocks of ice on the back of his scooter, equally dividing his ware amongst the street vendors.
Welcome to Cambodia!
April 1st – May 6th 2017