Sunday, January 28, 2007

Majestic Angkor Day 4 - Into the Heart of Darkness - Phnom Penh (7 Nov 06)

We woke up at a somewhat reasonable hour, finished packing, and after loading our bags in the bus, joined the group for breakfast. We were supposed to take the boat down the Tonle Sap River to Phnom Penh, but the water taxi company had been overloading the boats as of late, and Imaginative Travellers decided that it was becoming less safe than they'd like. A wise and commendable (if sort of a bummer...I'd already missed the epic pickup truck ride from the Thai border and was looking forward to the trip) decision on the part of the company.

We boarded the bus for the trip to Phnom Penh at about 8:00 AM, and were on the way before too long. Our road took us the same route as the prior day, though without the turn to the lake. We drove for perhaps an hour and a half before the first stop at a restaurant on a small lake. A second bathroom break (rather urgent, as all the girls had to pee) was at a cluster of buildings that turned out to be someone's house. The facilities were...adequate.

Finally, around 1 PM, we crossed the Tonle Sap River and made our way into Cambodia's capital city. We checked into the Pacific Hotel, dumped our bags, and got together for noodles at a shop near the big central market. After the long drive, the noodles hit the spot, and several of us went for a wander through the marketplace to settle things down. Sarah had proposed the Foreign Correspondent's Club on the riverside for supper, so eventually we made our way down there. Melody wasn't feeling very well initially, so I went with Nikki and Lori for a pre-dinner beer and opportunity to watch the sunset over the river. Keeping with the tradition of the day before, we missed the actual sun going down, and had to settle for dusk and a seat on the veranda overlooking the street and goings on down below. People on motorbikes and tuktuks sped by, and delicious smells were wafting up from the food cart below.

We relaxed in the sort of colonial surroundings, and just chatted and looked around at the photography displays. Mostly, the pictures showed refugees and people affected by war. Lots of pictures of amputees for some reason. But, being the Foreign Correspondent's Club, I guess photojournalism should have been expected.

Eventually, the rest of the group showed up, and we sat down to supper in the restaurant. The chow was good, though not particularly memorable. Melody still wasn't feeling 100%, so after supper, we took a tuktuk back to the Pacific and went to bed.

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