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Published: September 13th 2011
A great place to hang out.
I'm in and out of Cambodia, both for visa runs from Thailand (it's by far the cheapest and easiest option) and for business. We're working on investment in corn farming project - for more on that whip over and take a look at my company site FoodWorks
I've written about the LeBiz Hotel
in a previous post and that's a great option for a pure quick over-night stay. But I find it a little spartan. White walls and a somewhat antiseptic atmosphere. Also not quite in the centre of the night life.
For the absolute opposite try the iconic Foreign Correspondents Club
- or as a friend of mine calls it somewhat lewdly, "The Foreign Cocksuckers Club". He's not big on journalists!
The FCC is one of the oldest and best known establishments in Phnom Penh. For an excellent history of the FCC check out this link: History
. Briefly the Club dates from 1992 when an entrepreneurial lawyer saw an opportunity to set up a bar for the influx of peace-keeping UNTAC soldiers and accompanying hacks.
I remember PP from those days and it was indeed the Wild East; gunshots resounded in the night and bodies floated along the Ton
Each of the nine rooms has a name. Very pleasant accommodation
Le Sap and Mekong Rivers, the confluence of which the FCC overlooks from Sisowath Quay. You could get yourself shot pretty easily in those days. There was no electricity and the streets were mud. I remember one club (not the FCC) where there was a score board for the girls with their ratings listed by the UNTAC customers.
It's a LOT more sedate now, but the FCC retains something of the old days romance. And you still find some of the old characters hanging in there with their gin and tonics at 9AM. The open bar that looks onto the river is really magnificent, and if G&T isn't your thing that early, the breakfast is awesome.
The FCC has added nine rooms and I stayed in "Bayron" (names, not numbers which is a nice touch). Old wood floor, spacious, big bed, nice bathroom and a veranda also overlooking the river. Some of the other rooms aren't so large, but overall the accommodation is really good. We paid $50/night because my colleague is an FCC member (one of the first) and so gets a member's discount. But the FCC is great value at any price.
And of course
From the open bar/restaurant you get a great view of the Ton Le Sap and Mekong Rivers.
Phnom Penh itself has changed, largely for the better. The FCC has an associate hotel, The Quay Hotel
, just along the riverbank and there are restaurants and night spots and cafes all over. One can still imagine the old days and the FCC has some excellent photos on the wall, but nowadays PP is safe and liveable.
As for the countryside, I've been surprised how quickly things have developed. Even in the late '90s life outside the city was pretty basic; now it starts to look much more like Thailand. Make sure you get out of PP and not just to Angkor (tho' that's a must), the scenery is beautiful. I'd say that all in all Cambodia is now one of my favourite places to visit in South-east Asia. You have it all, history, romance, beauty and some fun too! FCC
363, Sisowath Quay
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