After yesterday’s visit to the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, today I tried to find some brighter things to see in Phnom Penh. It’s hardly a pedestrian-friendly city though. Where pavements actually exist they tend to be uneven, slippery or blocked by parked cars and stalls. Apparently back in the day these were once grand and wide sidewalks, constructed by the French colonisers. Phnom Penh is chaotic, slightly grimy and a little bit rough around the edges. However if you’re willing to get out and about there’s quite a lot to see.
Near our hotel is the Olympic Stadium so I decided to check that out. If you’re trying to think back to the Phnom Penh Olympics, don’t bother as they never took place! The stadium was built to host an Asian Games but even that didn’t occur. It now serves as the national stadium of Cambodia. I soon gave up on trying to see the stadium as negotiating the surrounding construction site was too confusing. I did see the striking Vattanac Capital Tower, the historic Raffles Hotel and the impressive colonial Post Office. Walking back to the hotel I also passed the Art Deco Central Market. I didn’t bother going inside, on account of having more than enough crap to carry around already!
In the afternoon we transported to the rural village of Chambok, where we’d be staying tonight. The last 10 miles or so involved driving down a narrow track, indicating that we were truly out in the sticks. While initially skeptical about homestays, following the one in Laos I’m beginning to warm to the idea, provided they are done in a dignified manner. This evening’s Khmer food was lovely and we were treated to another kids dance performance that fortunately required no audience participation! Hannah mentioned that she’d experienced a bit of nausea during the journey so was offered a traditional local remedy. This involved some sort of topical substance being rubbed onto her shoulders, in order to expel any toxins. I’m not sure if it gave the desired result but the process left a series of visible red stripes!