It was an early start this morning to catch a coach back to Phnom Penh. There were still a few things left to see in the Cambodian capital. Google Maps does’t seem to be able to download maps for offline use in much of South-East Asia. Another app, Maps.me works though. This allows you to bookmark the things you want to see and plan a route.
This afternoon I attempted to dodge the impending rain and headed off along some of the wide boulevards and plazas of Phnom Penh. Some of this town planning wouldn’t look out of place in Vienna or Buenos Aires. The French colonial past of Cambodia made the city known as the Paris of the East prior to the 1970’s. Tragically Phnom Penh was evacuated soon afterwards and it became a ghost town. During the civil war and ensuing troubles a lot of infrastructure and colonial architecture were destroyed although nowadays there are still plenty of interesting sights. I eventually made it to the Royal Palace, adjacent to the Mekong River. It was too late in the day to attempt to go inside the substantial palace grounds but it was nonetheless an impressive site from the square outside.
Panya organised a sunset boat ride. It wasn’t looking good at around 4pm when the torrential rain was falling. In between the searing temperatures it has actually rained at some point during most days we’ve been in Cambodia. The rainy season is definitely impending. As luck would have it, the precipitation had halted just before we walked along the wobbly gangplank onto the boat. The river cruise was nice enough, riding around the junction where the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers meet. From the water you get a great overview of the traditional Phnom Penh skyline, alongside the up and coming modern developments that are being erected at a rapid rate.
After an evening meal we were back at the hotel for 8.30pm, a far cry from last Friday’s escapades in Siem Reap. The constant late night/early morning starts seem to have eventually taken their toll. An enjoyable evening was still had though.