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Published: August 2nd 2019
The Independence Monument in Phnom Penh.
We were up early as we had a flight to catch, but breakfast opened just in time so we were able to get something to eat before we left. The same guide who took us to the port and back was waiting for us in reception and then we had to face the rush hour Hanoi traffic, not that it was much different to any other time.
It had clearly been raining heavily overnight, although we had not heard any thunder. Mind you, the hotel windows are probably well sound-proofed to cut out all the moped horns.
The guide told us that no boats were leaving today because of the impending typhoon, so we were very, very lucky.
On the way to the airport, we drove along a a substantial part of the Hanoi Ceramic Murals. This is several miles long and consists of lots of different murals aiming to brighten-up some dull dike system walls.
We left Hanoi from a different terminal that we arrived at, but it was still huge, new and very impressive. Security was very quiet so we got through with loads of time to spare. Consequently, we walked to each end of
A very tiny section of this huge mural in Hanoi.
the terminal and back, past loads and loads of gift-shops (maybe later), not least because it also meant my wife was able to get most of her Fitbit steps in whilst we were in the cool.
There was an Aeroflot flight ready to leave. They look like they have rebranded, but it was still a reminder of that long nightmare to get to this region 30 years ago (albeit more directly than I thought at the time).
The flight to Phnom Penh was not direct, so after less than an hour we landed at Vientiane, which is the capital of Laos and, apparently, Asia’s smallest capital. We didn’t need to get off the flight, so sadly I can’t claim Laos as another country visited yet - well maybe I will (the same as I claim that Moscow airport counts as Russia when it suits me).
Phnom Penh is much more like how I remember Bangkok to be (although I must stop making pointless comparisons to Bangkok). There are the ornate, colourful temples, the monks clad in their bright orange robes, tuk tuks and the same smells from the street food being cooked. There are more cars in
The Long Route
A reminder of the cheap but long-winded option to get here.
the chaotic traffic, although still a lot of lawless mopeds. No one propositioning all the men though.
It is also back to writing that we cannot read.
Out hotel is right opposite the huge American Embassy, or rather the American Embassy slash Fort Knox. We also saw an EU embassy.
We headed-off to the Central Markets, which was an experience. There is the main cross-shaped building, with a huge central dome, not unlike the Pantheon in Rome. Then all the way around are a maze of more market stalls selling everything you could think of, with different areas for different things: clothes, bags, food, electronics, textiles, household, kitchen and on and on. My wife was looking at some bags and, apparently, some of the more expensive ones ($50 or there abouts), are actually genuine, unlike the other fakes. A genuine Louis Vuitton bag for $50, that’s good to know!
We got our son a genuine Tommy Hilfiger t-shirt, whilst I debated treating myself to a genuine Rolex watch.
Everything here seems to be priced in US Dollars, at least for us tourists.
At one point they were crushing a load of ice, in what
It had been heavily raining overnight.
could only be described as the most unsanitary conditions imaginable. It would be bad enough if it was for all the raw fish that was nearby, but even worse if it was to end-up in any drink that I might be buying at some point. They do say that ice is something to be carful with.
Later, I walked down to the Independence Monument. This is definitely the nicest part of the city, with wide grassed areas, all full of people enjoying the evening and a fast array of monuments, temples and palaces.
I got back to the hotel and it seemed like I must have had some of the dodgy ice in my drink as I had to spend all of the night in close proximity to the toilet.
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