A hill, a mosque and a gazillion kids

We had a little rush tour sorted for today. Our first job was to send a package back to the US for Amy, so we wolfed down breakfast and sorted out a tuk-tuk to the main post office. Just so you know, sending 5kg from Cambodia to the US costs a lot. Lucky for Amy she knows a Brit with an ATM card that doesn’t charge for withdrawals…

Just around the corner from the PO is the hill after which Phnomh Penh is apparently named. Atop it is a nice little temple (the Wat Phnomh) and we paid the dollar fee to clamber up and take some photos.

Amy had spotted a mosque on the map of the area she had, and it was only a short walk away so we strode along to get a look at it. In honesty, it wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring and in fact looked like it may have been shut. I guess I’ve been spoiled by some of the amazing ones in India, but this one really needed a new coat of paint.

Ignoring one tuk-tuk driver who was simply being annoying, we picked up another one and got ourselves down to the National Museum. The small entry fee got us an hour or so looking at some fine examples of Khmer art and old religious artifacts. I think Amy enjoyed it more than I did, but it was certainly interesting. In three spots around the museum, women were selling small garlands of flowers to place at the base of some statues. They got all sulky when we refused.

Amy had spotted a cafe called the Boddhi Tree in the Lonely Planet which she’d wanted to eat at – it was recommended quite highly – but we’d forgotten when we went to S21 the previous day. Which is a shame as it’s right opposite. With tuk-tuks being so cheap, we decided just to hop into one and zip off anyway. I’m glad we did as the food and atmosphere was superb. Despite being so close to such a depressing memorial, it’s a lovely relaxing little waterhole covered in foliage. Sadly, we didn’t have time for lunch as Amy wanted some time back at the hostel before our afternoon appointment at the orphanage.

Well. We got that time. And then some. There was a "problem" with our driver so our 2pm pickup didn’t arrive until 3:30. This meant we didn’t have time to stop and pick up anything for the kids. Instead, I dug out the football I’d been lugging around for 14 months along with the pump and adaptor I’d been using to inflate it – the two times I’d used it in over a year. Kids like football, right?


They loved it. As luck would have it, they’d just destroyed their old one (one kid was running around with the burst ball on his head like a Spiderman mask) and within seconds of us turning up there were at least six kids stood in front of me with their eyes glued to it.

Because of the delay with the driver, we arrived shortly before all the other visitors had to leave, but the orphanage let us stay on for over two hours while we mucked around with these bundles of energy. Their ages ranged from 5 to 18, apparently, though I swear some looked younger. We played pat-a-cake, sorta-volleyball, sorta-football and "spin the small child round till they scream" until I was literally blinded by my own sweat. At one point I had a queue of kids lined up waiting to be thrown in the air.

Who needs a gym or a funpark when you have 40-or-so children to keep you occupied?

After all the fun we returned, exhausted, to our hostel and met up with a girl from Canada we’d talked to earlier. After a shower and freshen-up we headed into town for some dinner. Pizza called and we found a fairly nice place which offered free dessert, sat down and started putting the beer away as well as the pretty passable meal. From there, we barhopped a little and returned to the guest house early enough to get packed. We were all leaving at 6:30am for various destinations so we all agreed to bang loudly on each other’s doors at 6:00!

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