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Published: February 8th 2010
Our alarm went off at 5.45 and we were downstairs, ready for our taxi (to the bus station) a few minutes early. By 7.15 the taxi still hadn't arrived and since we were meant to be boarding a coach at 7.30, we asked our Guesthouse reception to chase it up. The Travel office we'd book the journey with had forgotten to book our taxi, and after a lot of faffing about, one eventually picked us up at 7.45. We'd decided we must have already missed our coach, so could only hope they'd had the sense to book us on the next available one, for free.
When we arrived at the station, the staff waved us on the bus and we were surpirsed to find our original seats were still available. The ticket man accepted our tickets and we realised that they stuff everyone on the same coach (no matter what time you had booked it for) to save themselves money. The coach finally set off at 8.30 and we both read and slept throughout. We caught a glimpse of a cheesy Asian music video on the TV and Ellie said it made her cringe outloud. I agreed with her, until I realised what she'd just said.
We arrived in Phnom Penh at 2.45pm and didn't even have time to step off the coach before we were bombarded with Tuk Tuk drivers shouting over one another and tugging at our arms. We hadn't been prepared for it and I wanted to scream at them to get out of my face - I just needed some space to get my backpack, find our research notes and think about where we needed to go. We stomped off down the road then pulled out our sheet of paper, and having calmed down, we agreed a price to Boeng Kak, the backpackers region. Some of the other drivers ran over giving us a load of grief for not using them and telling us "all Manchester people are crazy". Aaaargh! I was fuming and in need of a nice cold Guesthouse to chill out! Even our quiet Tuk Tuk man insulted us when we paid him, saying he doesn't speak English very well but his friends say English people are assholes. Hmm, he seemed to speak English perfectly well to me! Urgh, whatever.
Started walking down Boeng Kak, (which we'd guessed would be like Khao San Road in Bangkok) but it wasn't at all what we were expecting. It was dirty, dark and smelly, and Cambodian families sat in the pathways feeding half clothed children food that made my stomach turn. Lots of youngish blokes flocked around trying to get us to stay at their Guesthouses, but we just wanted to be left alone to find a half decent one ourselves.
We came across one called 'Same, Same' which was far from the good standards we'd been used to, but was definitely the best of a bad bunch. Threw our bags on the bed and once the owner had left us with the key, we looked at each other in horror. We already weren't keen on Phnom Penh one bit, and were thinking what a shame since Siem Reap had been beautiful... possibly our favourite place of our entire trip so far.
Disappointed, we walked to a cafe bar oposite called Flying Elephant where I had an anemic Red Curry... it was white! Went back to Same, Same to check out the sun terrace and were pleasantly surprised to find a wooden deck by the lake, with comfy seating where we could read and catch the last few hours of sun.
After a shower we decided to head into the City Centre rather than sticking around for dinner in the Backpackers region. Perked up at the sight of lively bars and trendy restaurants in the 'Riverside' area. I had Pineapple Beef and El had an Ant infested Shredded chicken salad which she didn't eat. Got the bill and was amazed to see they'd added numerous extras, including the use of cold towels they'd handed us before dinner was served. It didn't cost a lot extra though so we found it vaguely amusing.
Went on the internet and posted 3 blogs (as I've falled a bit behind recently - sorry guys!) while Ellie uploaded some photos and got harrassed by an Indian chap. Stopped off for some ice cream at the Flying elephant and noticed they had a picture frame with a photo and some info of each staff member - what a brilliant idea. Whoever wrote it obviously had a great sense of humour.
Back in bed that night we agreed perhaps we'd been too quick to dismiss the place, and we'd actually grown to quite like it here. Anyone visiting Phnom Penh, I'd say give it a chance before running a mile.
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