I had been wanting to visit Phnom Penh so when my friend, Roya told me she was living there for a few months I decided to take the opportunity since its always a better experience when someone is showing you around. It was a quick last minute 24 hour trip but I got to see everything I wanted.
The flight from Singapore landed around noon and I was at my hotel by 1pm on Saturday. We started off by going to Touel Sleng (decided to do the sad stuff first then happy/fun stuff). Touel Sleng is the old school that was converted to a torture chamber during Pol Pots regime. It was sad to see the power one man had over an entire nation and how much torture was inflicted on the Cambodians and that too this was not so long ago. Pol Pot wanted to create an agrarian based society regime in the 70’s so anybody considered “intellectual” was tortured to death. Quite symbolic this torture chamber was in a former school.
After that we went to the Royal Palace. The Royal palace reminded me of the Grand Palace in Bangkok quite a bit although the flying angels and the face at the top were something I haven’t seen before. The Silver Pagoda was especially beautiful with the 5000 silver tiles (1 kg each) that made up the floor and a Buddha made of pure baccarat crystal (too bad I couldn’t take any pictures!!). We ended the day with a visit to Bloom Cafe (a vocational place for women to learn skills in baking/retail) and had some cupcakes, walked around the waterfront, did a quick visit to the night market and ended with drinks at FCC (Foregin Correspondent’s Club) overlooking the waterfront.
The second day was a relaxing day starting off with a massage and body scrub in the morning, brunch in the afternoon and just hanging out in the city until my flight at 6pm. Most of the city was closed due to elections being held. It was cool to see everyone’s pointer fingers blue from the ink since most of the voting is still done through thumbprints not signatures.
Overall it was a great, unexpected trip to the capital of Cambodia. Phnom Penh has more of a smaller town feel than a big capital city but that was a nice difference than the bustling madness I’ve seen around the region. Thanks ROYA for hosting me!!
- You have to cover your knees and shoulders when entering the palace. Otherwise they can sell you $3 T-shirts just before you buy the ticket.
- US Dollars are the best way to go. Cambodian currency is only used for very small transactions. Thai Bhat are also accepted.
- Be really careful about your purse/bag. They can be snatched and taken even from tuk tuks.