American Ice Cream Parlor and Hamburger Restaurant – located!

A huge thank you to Antony who emailed me to tell me he’d found the American Ice Cream Parlor and Hamburger Restaurant we’d eaten at on the way from Siem Reap to Phnomn Penh (detailed on this post). It’s in a town called Kompong Thom, around the corner from the Arunras Hotel in the town center.

Heading for the Mekong

Our pickup was slightly late and it took an hour to get round all the hotels, partly as 2 people were having a late brekkie or had slept in or something. Quite a small group in all – us, a Dutch couple, a Korean girl, two Chinese/American women and a family of 3 from France.

The small but comfy bus drove us to Neak Luong where we transferred to a boat for around 2 hours as we made our way to the Cambodian/Vietnamese border. Here (at Kaam Samnor) we hopped out, got our exit stamps and jumped back onboard again. Across the border, we disembarked with luggage and had our entry visas checked and stamps applied. While there, we grabbed some lunch – just a bunch of spring rolls and a drink for us – while coo-ing over a very cute Vietnamese baby.

The boat journey from here (Vinh Xuong) to Chau Doc was another 2 hours. Along the way some great sites: a footbridge consisting of a thick bamboo pole as the walking surface – very narrow; fishing nets which rose out of the water using a system of bamboo strips; kids frolicking in the water and waving as we passed; water buffalo ducking under as we got too close; a huge variety of houses, shacks and boats…

The weather wasn’t too bad with only one short flurry of rain before we reached Chau Doc. It’s a small town with a frequent flow of tourists due to the nearby crossing, but not an awful lot here. We visited the temple and did an email check in a very slow internet place (3000d an hour). I had my photo taken with some random Vietnamese and a huge number of kids wanted to shout “hello” at us. We had some sugar cane drink which was absolutely delicious (and probably tourist price at 5000d) and also some lotus flower seeds for a similar, likely inflated, price.

Leah’s stomach wasn’t behaving today, but she still wolfed down some shrimp with noodles while I had a rather nice chicken boiled in lemon grass and chilli. We spent an hour or so over dinner chatting to the couple from the Netherlands before retiring fairly early due to a 6:30 breakfast call the following morning.

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Round Phnom Penh in a tuk-tuk

Again. As I did a lot of these things last year, there won’t be much in the way of extra details. If you want info on the things covered here, check out the earlier posts (Killing Fields, Tuol Sleng, Silver Pagoda / Wat Phnomh).

Our tuk-tuk driver picked us up around 10:30. We rattled through the Killing Fields ($2 entry), Tuol Sleng ($2 entry), the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda ($6.50 entrey, now with no difference in price if you want to use a camera), Wat Phnom ($1) and sorted a bus/boat trip to HCM City for $40 per person.

For breakfast we went to Rory’s which was recommended by the Lonely Planet. Leah doesn’t like beans or tomato, so I said it was OK and I’d eat them. The staff separated Leah’s brekkie into 2 bits, and brought them out on two separate plates!

At lunch, we had a quick drink at Boddhi Tree where the flavours were good and the service rather poor. It took us ten minutes to get served when there were only three tables in use at the restaurant.

Dinner this evening was at Sharky bar. I had Sharky Club (huge sandwich), Black Panther Stout (excellent), a Cooper’s Sparkling and four shots. Best of which was the Ground Zero – the closest thing to drinking an After Eight ever. On way to hostel we saw great take-out system. As the ground floors of buildings are often shuttered and locked at night, the family lowered money by string to the delivery guy from a balcony. He then tied their food bags to the string for them to heave back up.

Back at Nordic, the staff kindly made us sandwiches for the journey tomorrow to save us worrying about breakfast for our 7am pickup.

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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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