After a terrible nights sleep and a whole day trying my hardest to stay up until our night bus at midnight (although it was more like 1am by the time we set off) I was excited to lay my head down and rest. The night buses in Cambodia consists of rows of single beds for two people to share. Even though I was with Lucy, a girl I had met a few nights before, sharing a single bed was a little too close for comfort. Having prepared myself for the journey the usual backpacker way, I still had a terrible nights sleep and was glad this night bus would be my first and last in Cambodia as I was heading to Vietnam shortly after.
Luckily Lucy shares my love of coffee and good food so we headed straight to Feel Good Cafe for a fulfilling breakfast while we waited to check in. I decided to stay at Mad Monkey’s as I enjoyed my stay their previously and had just come from their hostel in Siem Reap (which, by the way is amazing) and managed to get a few hours rest in our lovely air conditioned dorm. Refreshed and energised I was ready for another night out and headed to pick up our welcome drink at the bar with Lucy.
The next morning I felt a little worse for wear and my iced coffee with condensed milk from the lovely Java Cafe didn’t help my dodgy belly (too much beer). I decided to walk to the Vietnam Embassy to see if it was cheaper to get my visa there instead of through the hostel. After over an hours walk in the heat stopping at every ATM as I had completely run out of cash and my card decided to stop working, I arrived at the embassy to find it closed for lunch. Great.
I had planned to meet Lucy for lunch so didn’t have time to wait until it reopened and found out it would only cost me $5 extra if I had done it through the hostel which was a pain. I had been in the city two days and still no closer to obtaining my Vietnam visa.
I jumped on a moto to Sugar and Spice Cafe which is part of Daughters of Cambodia, a social enterprise helping abused women, many previously in the sex trade. I enjoyed a delicious pumpkin and avacado salad and wish I could have purchased the whole gift shop for my mother.
It was far too hot to do any sight seeing so we went to one of the many independent cinemas in Cambodia where we had the theatre room filled with comfy pillows all to ourselves. Often you can choose what you want to watch but we went for the scheduled showing of “The Killing Fields” to learn more about the Khmer Rouge before our planned trip to the Killing Fields the next day.
The film was fantastic and presented the regime from a different perspective than the young girl in my book. That evening we went to a restaurant called Frizz where I had Fish Amok, baked fish in coconut and spices served in a banana leaf.
The next morning Lucy and I met for breakfast at ARTilary Cafe but my stomach refused to settle and my appetite was well and truly gone. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former high school which was used as the notorious Security Prison 21 by the Khmer Rouge regime is a must if visiting Phnom Penh and although not a fun day out, taught me so much about the horrors that went on between 1975-1979.
Both the museums and killing fields are doable in one day so we bartered a reasonable price for a tuk tuk ride to the Killing Fields just out of town. This is where I endured one of the bumpiest and dustier rides of my life and decided I cannot survive in Asia without a mask. Like the museums, the Killing Fields were just as harrowing, if not more so, but a worthwhile trip if in the city.
I managed to squeeze in another hours nap before dinner at Friends which is number one on Trip Advisor due to it’s excellent food, service and the fact the restaurant helps local schools in Cambodia. Food comes in ‘tapas’ style portions but we were more than satisfied sharing three dishes.
Lucy left for the coast that evening whist I tried to catch up with sleep at the hostel which proved a little difficult after being woken at 3am upon the return of two newly formed, terribly drunk “couples” and again at 5am when one of the girls was so drunk she decided to go to toilet in the middle of the room. I’ve never seen any thing like it!
Weak from lack of sleep and lack of appetite I decided to check myself into a quiet guesthouse until I received my visa approval. After returning from a walk to find a guesthouse, I was shocked to find that my plastic bag containing a packet of ever-so-expensive crisps (not that bothered) my sleeping bag liner and towel (a biggie for most backpackers) and my only bra (my life is over) was no longer at the side of my bed. I pleaded with staff to ask the maids and even check the bins but they seemed unbothered and weren’t much help at all. So my final day in Cambodia was spent at a market so local even Lonely Planet doesn’t know about it, trying to find a new bra.
It was here I caught a fascinating insight into Asian breasts! After only finding balcony-style bras at the market which have never fit me (if you’re a guy reading this you may be a bit lost) I went to a designer store to try a selection on. I found that Cambodian sizes only go down to a 32B which is bigger than those found in the UK and absolutely no use to me. How can this be I thought, Asians are tiny! I also found that the amount of padding in every bra is so thick it makes them ever so deceiving. After no luck at the shop I returned to the market and decided to risk it and purchase one as they were only $2.5. Surprisingly it fits but leaves me feeling and looking a little like Jordan/Pammy Anderson so if you do come across a photo of me and my ridiculously large new boobs, I grant you a chuckle as you now understand why.
All shopped out I picked up me bag and visa (woohoo) at the hostel and walked to Tattoo Guesthouse for an early night before my bus to Ho Chi Min City the next morning. My time in Cambodia has been exhilarating, exhausting and an experience like no other. I feel I’ve learnt more about history and culture than I ever did at school and met some fantastically friendly and humble people along the way. Now time for Vietnam!
Living life, loving travel,