Phnom Penh, Cambodia – January 18 – 23, 2015
The 6 hour bus from Siem Reap turned into a 7 1/2 hour ride. We had heard the roads in Cambodia were terrible, but I never imagined them to be as bad as they were. As with any moving vehicle in Cambodia there is a lot of swerving to get around other vehicles (usually motorbikes), slow overloaded trucks, stray dogs, cattle and pedestrians, then add in the giant potholes in the roads and intermittent road construction and we have more swerving as we bump along the dusty roads. There could have been some very nice photos as we drove along, except for the really dusty windows. I am happy to report that everyone kept their food down and we were glad to arrive in Phnom Penh, even if it was an hour and a half late.
We took the Giant Ibis Bus line partly because it has Wi-Fi and it came highly recommended. Unfortunately, the bus we were on didn’t have Wi-Fi so instead we watched a few movies there were playing on the bus. Another perk with Giant Ibis .
Once in Phnom Penh we had to hire two Tuk-Tuks to take us and all our bags to our hotel at a cost of $10.
Our hotel was two adjoining rooms with a huge bathroom and a balcony that overlooked the pool. Breakfast was included, which is always a bonus for us. We spent a day just playing in the pool.
We had only booked there for a few days so we decided to look for cheaper hotel for our remaining two days. Len went down the street and returned a few minutes later. He had scored up a hotel with two double beds for a total of $30/night, including breakfast.
Phnom Penh is like every big city. Filled with poverty, filled with litter, filled with pollution. We saw people, including small children, sleeping on straw mats on sidewalks beside busy streets. We saw people sleeping in hammocks hung between streetlamps and signs. And we saw people driving Rolls Royce and Porsche vehicles, looking for parking spots on those same streets. We missed the happy smiling faces of Siem Reap.
Phnom Penh is the place to go to see the Killing Fields and the infamous S21 Prison Museum of the Khmer Rouge, but we decided not to tour that part of Cambodia’s history, feeling the kids were too young to understand such horrific actions. Hell, I can’t truly comprehend or accept that such horrific killings could have happened, how am I to explain it to the kids? We had talked about it on a more general level, and did see the monument in Siem Reap where 20,000 were killed, but to see the genocide museum or the actual Killing Fields, was something none of us really wanted to see. I think it would have been an emotional overload for all of us, even as adults.
Instead we played. We went to KidsCity. We decided this was a perfect escape and the kids would learn a little science while there. KidsCity has 10 floors and each floor is dedicated to a particular activity, such as laser tag, climbing walls, toddler land, go carts, and so on. You pay for the floor(s) you want to go to. We paid $10 each for Noah and Aurora to go to the two floors dedicated to science. The kids spent 4-5 hours learning about electricity, magnetism, sight, sound, gravity, weights, physics, motion, balance, the universe, solar system and other topics of science via interactive experiments and info from the center’s staff. They had a blast and learnt a little too. If you are ever near a KidsCity, I recommend going. It’s worth the money and the kids get a break from sightseeing and get to run, play and burn off some of that pent up energy.
Our hotel was very close to the National Museum and the Royal Palace, so I took the kids to see the museum. There were no takers for the Royal Palace, they felt it was just like other palaces they’ve seen, only smaller. I couldn’t argue with them on that, so we skipped the palace.
The National Museum had an entrance fee of $5 USD per person, but inside there was a sign that showed a different price; including a price if you wanted to take photos. If you didn’t want to pay this fee you were not allowed to take any photos. I didn’t know this and got caught. Honestly, the museum was not worth the money. The highlight of our time there was feeding the fish in the ponds. That is always a hit with the kids.
On our last night in Phnom Penh we went out looking for a restaurant, but not just any restaurant. The restaurant we were looking for had to have chicken fried rice (Aurora’s request). We wandered around for a while until coming across a little café called the Odyssey. It was very modern looking and clean, nothing like we’ve eaten in for months. And the best part was, it served chicken fried rice. We were the only ones in the restaurant, and that usually scares us off, but not tonight. On the tables were little wooden games. We tried our hand at Jenga, but quickly turned our attention to snakes and ladders. This helped pass the time until our meal was served. As we talked to the owner we learned that he is Cambodian, but has lived in Canada and he plans to return there. We believe this was why we felt so comfortable and at home in his restaurant….it reminded us of home. The food was awesome, the conversation even better. We would definitely have gone back had we stayed in Phnom Penh longer.
*Sorry, we are experiencing technical difficulties and are unable to add photos at this time. Please check back as we hope to add them at a later days.