Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Phnom Penh, 21 April 2009

Emma was sick in bed today so I spent the day having a walk around the city of Phnom Penh.

The city isn't really made for walking. It's all about motorbikes, scoooters, tuk tuks and cars. There are very few pedestrians.

I had been forced to take a scooter when we arrived at Phnom Penh bus depot (there were no taxis in sight, and we were too far away to walk to the guest house area). Taking a scooter was horrendous. The roads were a nightmare, and there were so many occasions when we were on the wrong side of the road with a load of traffic coming towards us. So I figured walking would be a safer way to explore.

Well, I don't really know if they were any safer, but at least I was in control. I had to be alert the whole time. You may have a green man at a pedestrian crossing, but that doesn't necessarily you have the freedom to cross the road. Oh no, the motorbikes keep coming!

It was a bit chaotic at first but I soon got used to it. Where there wasn't a pedestrain crossing I found a local crossing the road and traversed with them. BY the end of the day I was a pro. And I had Phnom Penh under my belt.

Phnom Penh is a bit of a funny one. Despite spending 4 days there I still don't know the official pppronunciation, everyone - including the Cambodians - said it differently "Nom Penh" "Per-nom Penh" "Fh-nom Penh". I guess it's a game of tomayto/tomarto.

My city tour of of Phnom Penh took me all over. The first stop was the Central Market followed by Phnom Wat (the highest point in PP at 22metres high!), followed by a stroll along the river, past the Palace and Silver Pagoda.

To escape the rain which kept trying to start I watched a documentary on the history of Cambodia. Given that my Cambodian history was not up to scratch I found it all very interesting.

The whole route was bustling. There were people everywhere, cars everywhere, life everywhere. I love busy cities.

Here are some of the things that I noticed/tried on my walk:

Chowk - at least, I think that's what it's called. Anyway a chowk is a cross between a nut and a fruit and a vegetable (if that's possible). It grows in a weird pod and you squeeze the seeds/nut out and eat them. The first one wasn't very nice, the lady hadn't told me you weren't supposed to eat the skin. The second was better as I ate it without the skin.

Oyster - again, it wasn't really an oyster, more a shell with some type od seafood inside. It was good. Real good.

Ghetto Blasters - they were everywhere in one area. PP is one of those places where every street sells the same thing. i.e. an area for just TVs, an area for just ghetto blasters and even an area for gold fish. The Ghetto Blasters were most impressive becase of their sheer size! They were beasts!

Customise your phone/lap top stalls - at school we used to have to cover our books in clear sticky back plastic laminate stuff, in PP they used multicoloured laminate stuff on everything... pphones, lap tops could all be customised to be bright colours or even patterned with animal prints. Very cool!

Monkeys

Elephant - a very sad looking elechant tied up near Phnom Wat. I felt sorry for the elephant.

Pavements - the other thing i noticed in PP was the pavements. They had no purpose for facilitating walking for pedestrians. Nope, instead they offered parking for bikes and cars, overflow space for shops to display their wares and more space for more red plastic chair cafes. This made walking around a little tricky.

After a day wandering around I decided I liked Phnom Penh.

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