We had a rather civilised journey down to Phnom Penh from Siem Reap; the road was tarmacked all the way down, so it was smooth sailing. However, Phnom Penh was a whole different story. As soon as we were off the bus, we were jumped on by touts offering rides to guesthouses. We have learned to expect this from everywhere we have been, but in this case the bus company shuttled us into their office pronto. Luckily we had been recommended the Top Banana Guesthouse by a Geordie fella we had met in Siem Reap, so we headed straight there. It turned out the be the perfect location for us as we enjoy exploring cities by foot, and the GH was located close to the Independence Monument, and close to the Palace and Museum.
After a day of walking round the city visiting the Palace and the National Museum, we headed to the Foreign Correspondence Club for a drink. We had heard this was a "must-do" at sunset as it looks over the Mekong River. It was a lovely place and fortunately for us we bumped into Zina, a girl we had met earlier in our trip at Tat
Lo Waterfall in Laos. She was staying with her friend Eileen in PP and they henceforth became our social organisers for our stay there.
There is a huge population of expats in PP, most of whom work for NGOs (Non-Government Organisations) which are charities that are helping the Cambodian people get back on their feet after the awful atrocities of the Khmer Rouge reign. The Khmer Rouge had simply executed anyone who was perceived as an intellectual; this meant if you spoke French, you were a teacher or a musician, etc. We were told by many people the theory that that the reason Cambodia is in such disarray is because anyone with any sense was killed, leaving only those less abled to run the country.
One special evening we spent in Phnom Penh was at the JCA Orphanage (Jeanine's Children's Association). We went there with Zina and Eileen, and it was a wonderful experience. As we arrived the children came out to greet us. One little fella took Steve's hand and led him into the orphanage; he pretty much stuck with Steve for most of the night, sitting on his lap during the dancing performance the
other kids gave us, and playing in the playground after we had dinner with them. I had a few conversations with the older girls as well. There were 84 kids in the two story house, all of whom had parents who had died from AIDS. The kids looked happy enough and seemed well looked after. Apparently there are so many orphanages in PP, and this is one of the better ones. We all rode back to Lakeside together standing up in the back of huge truck which seemed a strange thing to do but was a lot of fun. There were a few tears at the end, but Steve and I left with a feeling of great humility. If you are interested in visiting the JCA orphanage, a minibus leaves at 6pm every Saturday from the Lazy Gecko at Lakeside.
It was a shame Matt hadn't been there as the kids would have got a kick out of his mimicking tricks. Unfortunately, Matt flew home to Oz the night before having spent 3 very full weeks in the life of SASINEA. We think he enjoyed himself 😉 The last we saw of him was waving out the back
of a tuk-tuk on the way to the airport. We miss you Matt!
We have only seen two parts of Cambodia thus far, the touristy city of Siem Reap and the Wild West of Phnom Penh. We have heard from other travellers that the Bokor Hill Station near Kampot was definitely worth a visit, so that's where we're heading to next.
Tot: 0.104s; Tpl: 0.012s; cc: 8; qc: 51; dbt: 0.0781s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.1mb