Phnom Penh is quite the vibrant city I must say. What struck me most upon arrival was the fact that everyone is on a motorbike or pedal power bike and no one is walking anywhere! In fact the sidewalks, when there is one, is not even used as a pedestrian walkway, crazy! In addition to the personal motorbikes, the streets are packed with Tuk Tuk cabs which serve as a really fun and quick way to get around.
We did a whirlwind tour around the city late at night on our first night. The other thing that really struck me as unusual and very culturally indicative of Cambodia was the fact that at night the streets don’t quiet down, in fact just the opposite. Whole families putt about, 3-4 to a motorbike and everyone is going this way and that with what appears to be no rhyme nor reason, but oddly enough seems to work very efficiently. My observation of the serene faces of the drivers and passengers was proof that this is just the way it is and all are quite non-plussed.
Our little tuk tuk excursion took us over a bridge to a small little island, reminiscent of the old Coney Island in New York, where the rainbow of bright colored lights lit up the night and all of the various kiddy rides, full of families despite it being a weeknight and 10 at night, go figure!
We have a sweet guide by the name of Siam, who shared his first hand knowledge of the city and the dark days of the Khmer Rouge Regime…heavy stuff. Then off for a stroll around the gorgeous manicured gardens of the royal palace which gave us a special appreciation for the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Primarily a Buddhist country, Cambodia has many lovely Pagodas where monks in saffron colored robes spend their time in prayer. With Siam’s help we had the privilege of meeting several monks and observing their beautiful chanting ritual before their noon meal, it was quite moving and a highlight of our day.
With a nightcap at the Foreign Correspondents Club overlooking the Mekong River we ended our day out in the City, and returned to our Plantation Hotel and a fabulous reflexology foot massage in a charming cabana perched over the gorgeous palm enshrouded pool. Bliss…..