Road trip to Phnom Penh

Leah agreed to the bus journey to PP as it’s cheaper than flying. With the improved roads, it’s also nearer a 5-hour journey and not so bumpy. We took a tuk-tuk to bus station and onto our “luxury” coach which wasn’t any better than the cheaper one I took with Amy last year. Free pastries and water, and a proper western loo on board were good as was the tour guide who pointed out some things we drove past on the way down.

The only real downside were the cramped seats. I guess we were expecting a little more comfort from the top price range out of the possible options ($6, $8 and $11). We stopped after about 2 hours for a 15-min leg-stretch, but unfortunately I don’t know where. [UPDATE: location details here] Just a tiny little town somewhere on National Road 6, with a fantastic American Ice Cream and Burger Bar which I’d recommend to anyone passing through. If their mission statement and guarantee are to be believed, all the “luxury” ice creams and sorbets feature imported ingredients while the Khmer ones are all local. Leah had luxury choc and vanilla, I went for taro and jack fruit. And they were all superb. I’ve never tasted chocolate ice cream quite like their’s before.

Just enough time to eat it and walk back to the bus. I picked up a mango from a street seller as well, for 2000 Real. Likely twice the “local” price, but still only 25p in our money and for the best mango I think I’ve ever tasted. As soon as one seller had jumped to her feet with a cry of “mango, sir?” on her lips, her two neighbours had done the same. Argh. Politeness problem. Do I buy one from each or just change my mind? No. I wanted a mango. So I simply said, “Sorry – she was first!” and the other two women nodded, smiled and sat down again. Wow. How different to the kids selling things in Vietnam! “You buy from her, now you buy from me…”

We arrived in Phnom Penh around 5:30, so made good time. The bus stop is just off the main riverside area, and only a short ride (in fact a short walk) from the guest house we’d decided on – the Nordic House. It’s not too cheap, but closer to the riverside than the Sunday where I stayed last year. It’s just been refurbished and it shows. The bathroom and furniture in the room we chose were sparkling new and we had satellite telly and free internet as long as we stuck within a 20Mb a day download limit and didn’t look at pr0n.

This second-last point may be contended as we racked up 75Mb on the first night alone as Leah uploaded photos to her SnapFish account. Note that no upload restriction was mentioned on their terms. Guess we’ll see what happens. I started a rescue going on my memory card as it hiccupped when I was reading data from it and we stepped out for the evening.

For dinner we wandered down as far as the palace and back up before settling on Cantina. Maybe not the cheapest place, but our bill came to less than ten quid for a shared starter, two huge mains and two drinks. And it was flipping gorgeous. Then back “home” to try and catch up on stuff before a packed day tomorrow!

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