Slow Days & Theft in Phnom Penh

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February 25th 2015
Published: February 28th 2015
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It's time to move on! Today we're leaving Siem Reap and heading to Phnom Penh via bus. I have booked us tickets with the Giant Ibis group, a good move, as they have the best buses, and reputation, in Cambodia. Our pickup van arrives at 8.15amand drove us to the Giant Ibis office/departure point to catch the 'big' bus. I'm impressed - we leave on time in a clean air conditioned coach with free wifi on board. This journey will take seven hours, and our tickets cost $15 each.

The road to Phnom Penh was dreadful! Lots of roadworks, so lots of dusty gravel road. The outskirts of the city were an eye opener, so much poverty evident and the litter problem was the worst I've ever seen. The roads were crowded and, at last, we pulled into the bus terminal, right on time. As usual, we were swarmed by tuk tuk drivers as we collected our luggage, all wanting a fare. We singled out one and were soon on our way to our accomodation for the next 5/6 nights, The Artist Guesthouse on Street 178. This accomodation cost us $42 each per night, breakfast was extra and could be ordered in the ground floor eatery, Jay's Diner. Meals were available all day and we ended up eating here several times during the next week.

This guesthouse was picked because of its great Trip Advisor reviews and central location. Only a couple of blocks from Sisowath Quay and the waterfront, opposite the National Museum and Royal Palace. By the time we settled into our rooms it was almost 5 o'clock. We were hungry (and thirsty) so headed to the Foreign Correspondence Club, just down the road, for a meal. We walked off our dinner along the Quay, then returned to our rooms for an early night.

I woke on Tuesday morning and reached for my iPad, to find it missing. An intruder had entered my room during the night, whilst I slept, and stolen the iPad, my camera and about $20 from my wallet. My room was on the second floor, directly above Carolyn's. Both our rooms had a balcony which overlooked the street. It's assumed the intruder entered and left via this balcony as my iPad cover and empty wallet were lying on the floor out there. The guesthouse entrance is locked after hours every night and a guard sleeps downstairs.
The National MuseumThe National MuseumThe National Museum

An elephant statue charges from the gardens of the National Museum
I obviously hadn't locked the door properly as it was unlatched that morning.

I reported the theft to management. The guesthouse was owned by a young French man who was rather shocked and very apologetic about it. He had been open for 12 months, he said, and this was the first theft he had experienced. He did his very best to help me. I knew my travel insurance provider would require a police report, so he took me to the police station, paid the $20 bribe, and got it sorted for me. He also wrote his own letter for my insurance company, discounted my room by 25% and gave free breakfasts to Carolyn and myself for the duration of our stay. He told me later he had been onto his builder and ordered steel grilles for all the balconies as he doesn't want a reoccurrence of this problem. I didn't see the point in moving on to another guesthouse. The reality is I left the door unlocked, I should have been more diligent, and this would never have happened.

So, Tuesday was a write off as far as sightseeing was concerned. The police report took most of the morning and during the afternoon we shopped to replace the stolen items. I was able to purchase a new iPad mini at a reputable Apple dealer and also replaced my camera with a Nikon Coolpix P530, the same one Carolyn had purchased before leaving home. I had used hers and found it an excellent camera. So, all sorted! This will not spoil the rest of my holiday or Carolyn's last days here. The 'stuff' has been replaced, and I wasn't attacked in my sleep, which is the most important thing. Lesson learnt - stay diligent, check and double check everything.

This is my second visit to Phnom Penh. I spent four days here, with Ginny and Petra, in 2013. Carolyn and I are moving slowly, meeting downstairs for breakfast around 8.00am whilst we browse Trip Advisor and decide the best way to spend our time for the next few days. Millie and Chris are in Phnom Penh too, but staying in a different hotel to us, and with their own agenda. Hopefully we'll catch up and compare notes before the weekend.

On top of Carolyn's list is a visit to the Killing Fields and S-21, the Genicide Museum. I visited these attractions in 2013 and had no desire to return. So, on Wednesday, we went our separate ways. I decided to visit the National Museum and browse some of the lovely shops to fill my day. We arranged to meet back at The Artist around 2.00pm.

We didn't do a lot over the next couple of days, neither of us felt like rushing around. We had three attempts to visit the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda before finally gaining admittance. The first day we were too late, the next day the Palace was closed due to a visit from the Laos president, and the third day - success! We've enjoyed a late afternoon boat trip, visited Central Market, the Russian Markets and the very disappointing Night Markets. No more markets please! I don't know why we did that, they all sell the same stuff.

We've bought a few small gifts in the better shops, eaten in as many different restaurants as we can, and consumed lots of Angkor beer and Barcardi. Every evening found us on Sisowath Quay, cameras in hand, joining the throngs of people enjoying the cooler hours of the day.

Today (Saturday) is Carolyn's last day. She has booked herself in for a first ever facial at Bliss Spa on Street 240, not far from here, on the other side of the Royal Palace. She headed off on foot and I returned to my room. I need some internet time, things to sort. We decided on the Foreign Correspondence Club for lunch and a couple of final Angkor beers before heading to the airport at 1.45pm. The half hour tuk tuk ride cost $8 and we met up with Chris and Millie there as they are booked on the same flight as Carolyn. I said my goodbyes, left them moving slowly to the top of the check-in line and returned to The Artist Guesthouse.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is my last day in Cambodia and I had no plans in place beyond Tuesday, so I had some work to do. My next destination is Southern Vietnam, first stop being Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta. At midday tomorrow I board a speed boat at Sisowath Quay and, four hours later, enter Vietnam from the mighty Mekong River.

Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20


Phnom Penh street scene.Phnom Penh street scene.
Phnom Penh street scene.

Sugar cane for sale & a flat for rent
Central MarketCentral Market
Central Market

Lovely old Art Deco Building
The Royal PalaceThe Royal Palace
The Royal Palace

Lit up like a fairy castle. The Laos president was visiting.
The Throne Room at the Royal PalaceThe Throne Room at the Royal Palace
The Throne Room at the Royal Palace

No one is allowed inside, we all hang through the windows, to taken our forbidden photos.
The Royal Palace The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace

The gardens here are beautiful.
The rich & The PoorThe rich & The Poor
The rich & The Poor

A huge international hotel has been built over the river. But the lives of the poor who live on the river remain unchanged.
Three Monks on Sisowath QuayThree Monks on Sisowath Quay
Three Monks on Sisowath Quay

This huge hotel has appeared across the river since 2013.
Corn Seller on Sisowath QuayCorn Seller on Sisowath Quay
Corn Seller on Sisowath Quay

Sitting on the side of a very busy road as the traffic wizzed past.
In front of the Royal PalaceIn front of the Royal Palace
In front of the Royal Palace

The streets get very busy when the day cools down.
Norodom SihamoniNorodom Sihamoni
Norodom Sihamoni

A lit up dedication to the current King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihamoni.
Sisowath Quay from the FCC.Sisowath Quay from the FCC.
Sisowath Quay from the FCC.

Taken from the Foreign Correspondence Club.
Carolyn at The Foreign Correspondence ClubCarolyn at The Foreign Correspondence Club
Carolyn at The Foreign Correspondence Club

Our last meal together before she left.

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