Amazing Cambodia: The Dirt Cheap Beer

This is a follow-up entry of Part 1 of my “Amazing Cambodia” series.

Rainbow and I were a bit crazy lah because normally people fly to Siem Reap as their first destination before taking off to and departing from Phnom Penh. Or the other way round.

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But in our case, we went to Phnom Penh first, then to Siem Reap, and then back to Phnom Penh again. And these two places are seven hours apart okay!

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Anyway… on the second day we had buffet lunch at a rather atas restaurant called “Tonle Bassac Restaurant”.

The lunch wasn’t up to par with what I had expected but at least it was more Cambodian and less Chinese compared to other meals we had taken before. Nevertheless I still put up some photos because of how delicious they seem. Pictures can be misleading indeed!

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After lunch we visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, which used to be a high school but was used as the Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the Khmer Rouge communist regime to house prisoners.

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Almost two million Cambodians were killed by the Khmer Rouge and the victims included monks, soldiers, government officials, academics, teachers, students, factory workers, engineers, and doctors!

I shall not provide too many photos and delve too much into the history because they kinda give me eeriness. If you look closely at the photo below, you may be able to notice blood stains on the walls.

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Many innocent prisoners, including pregnant women and children, were tortured in the rooms of the high school. The photo below depicts some containers used by the prisoners to, err, shit.

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Well, let’s talk about something more positive. One of the places in Phnom Penh that I really enjoyed going was the Central Market.

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I went there for a total of three times during my stay in Phnom Penh. Bought an earphone for my iPod, a wallet, and plenty of T’s from there!

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Traffic was a little scary in the city of Phnom Penh because people didn’t seem to rely on traffic lights. In fact there were noticeably only few traffic lights in Cambodia.

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Later that night, we were brought to dine in a mansion-cum-restaurant for dinner. I never bothered to take down the name of this restaurant as their rude waitresses and bad food really turned me off.

Nice environment and all, what was with the lousiest attitude their waitresses put on? They definitely need some lecturing on customer service.

Instead of attending to customers, most of the times these waitresses just leaned against the wall watching some Cambodian MV’s. And when we requested our water to be refilled, they seemed super reluctant and acted like we had killed their boyfriends.

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EH XIAOJIE, WANT TO WATCH MV’S GO BACK HOME AND WATCH WITH YOUR UNCLE OKAY! Don’t cincai-cincai show face to your customers who pay.

The chicken they served was super disgusting (although, I must say, it looks really nice in the picture).

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It was actually only half-cooked and the feathers were not cleaned properly off the skin.

We requested it to be replaced with another dish and although they did replace it, they gave us this reluctant expression. If we were unlucky I guess our replacement dish might come with some extra “stuff” lor!

Anyway, done with ranting so let’s more on.

Beer in Cambodia is cheap, cheap, cheap!

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Its local beer, popularly known as Angkor beer, was sold only at USD0.60 per can (only around RM2). Bottled Heineken and Tiger were sold at USD1.45 and USD1.20 respectively, which means around RM4. In Malaysia they easily cost over RM13!

Being utmostly kiasu I bought like three cans and two bottles of beer.

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Rainbow bought some too but was unable to finish them so I had to finish them for her. It’s my pleasure, Rainbow!

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The next day we took a long, long bus ride to Siem Reap.

Siem Reap and Phnom Penh are seven hours apart by bus. Not that they’re actually that far a distance, but the small and bumpy road really made travelling and driving such a headache! At the time of visit there wasn’t even any highway in Cambodia.

Every other second, the driver kept hitting the horn in order to alert other drivers to the bus’ presence. To the Cambodians,  honking does not mean one is angry at other driver. Cambodian is known for its high fatality rate and drivers generally honk for safety reasons.

The road condition along the way to Siem Reap:

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The bus driver made a stop along the way for a 30-minute lunch break. We didn’t have much appetite given the less than satisfactory environment so we decided to explore the place instead.

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We bought ourselves a hat each because Cambodia can be as hot as Kampar!

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Some views along the way to Siem Reap:

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I love how simple some of the Cambodians live their lives.

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And you know what…

Laozi had to prepare for the International Advertising even during my vacation! But then again there was beer and music so I guess that kinda compensated my lack of life.

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We reached Siem Reap at about 1pm and were checked into a restaurant for lunch. It was okay, nothing amazing though. After that we headed for our hotel called Angkorway to have a quick shower break.

Among the hotels we had stayed in Cambodia, Angkorway proved itself to be the best because it was spacious and comfortable; it also had free Wifi and a pool behind it (though, we didn’t have the time to swim)!

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After our shower break we were off to visit the Wat Bo temple where a lot of monks resided.

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If I could work on my Master’s thesis in such an environment, guarantee can complete it within six months!

In Siem Reap, you get to see a lot of tombs like these pictures:

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The size and colour of the tombs will define who the dead is. Big tombs are for adults and little tombs for children. If one is rich, he or she probably would get a golden one.

The Amazing Cambodia Trip Part 3 will be continued in the next entry.


Amazing Cambodia: Crispy Fried Insects as Snacks

I was supposed to write this entry three months back but unfortunately I didn’t have the time to so until now, and there is a total of 160 photos to upload. So heavy!

Several months back, AirAsia was having a Free Seats promotion and I managed to grab my hometown friend Rainbow and I each a return ticket for an all-in-fare of just RM25. This explains how our Cambodia trip came about.

On an unrelated note, I have recently just bought Cat and I a round-trip ticket to Bangkok for next year and it cost like RM120 per pax. A bit more expensive but oh well I guess it is still a good deal.

Anyway let’s focus on Rainbow’s and my Cambodia trip.

This was how Cambodia looked like from a microscopic view inside our plane:

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I thought it was beautiful and looked so different from what we have in Malaysia. The moment I set foot in Cambodia, I immediately liked it already.

Maybe I’m siao lah, many people I know who have been to Cambodia never expressed any strong liking towards this relatively less developed country, but I just wish to be able to stay there for, say, two years?

At the Phnom Penh airport, we were welcomed by a Chinese tour guide (we purchased a tour package from Matta Fair), who brought us to check into our hotel – called the Princess Hotel – to drop off our luggages.

I was actually quite shocked there were so many Chinese in Cambodia, much like Malaysia. I used to think its people were homogeneous!

Look at how big the hotel key was. So big and heavy it can be used to whack hotel thieves.

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Oh, and the view from our hotel window:

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Nice view! It sucked.

Half an hour after we checked into the our hotel, unfortunately it began pouring heavily. Haha what a nice way to welcome us leh!

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The petrol station right across our hotel looked remarkably one of a kind and more lao-yah that Malaysia’s, but I liked the simplicity. Look at the tuk-tuk – I felt like jumping onto it and rode it to explore the whole town!

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There were so many tuk-tuk operators in Cambodia I found it a little difficult to walk from one end of the street to another without any random drivers approaching us to offer us a ride! At times I just wished I looked more like a local.

After dropping off our luggages, we were brought to visit the Phnom Penh Riverside at the downtown.

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Apparently the river you can see in the picture above connects two other rivers – one of which is the famous Mekong river, which runs through some of Cambodia’s neighbouring countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and China.

Very phenomenal indeed!

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There was a little temple along the riverside, where kids were playing around it in their most naive nature. They might not have video games or smartphones, but they were most certainly the simplest persons I had seen in my entire life! Well, unlike most spoilt little brats in our modern society.

Look at the woman behind me (photo below) – how the hell did she get to balance that thing so well?

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When asked if there was any chance we could taste their famous fried insects, our tour guide easily pointed to one of the stalls nearby and said, “That’s one of the best stalls in town.”

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The tour guide however warned us against taking pictures too closely as they wouldn’t be too happy if you do not buy anything from them.

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Looking delicious, no? Haha, they are just like the wide variety of dishes we find at any chap fan stalls, except the dishes are all insects. And please hor – don’t judge the Cambodians just because they eat insects – haven’t you heard one man’s poison is another man’s food?

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We bought some fried crickets and fried frogs for a total of USD1, and we never had the chance to taste them until later that night.

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Fried frogs were okay but certainly not fried crickets. Crickets tasted horrible and I almost threw up eating one!

Earlier on, we visited the Naga World, the only casino in Phnom Penh. Nothing special about it; the only nice thing was the free flow of beer they offered.

We had dinner buffet at Naga World, which was pretty Chinese and didn’t impress me very much. Instead of enjoying the meal, we pretty much just yakked away and taking pictures.

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Ever time I came across photos of me wearing that cardigan I felt damn frustrated can? Yours truly had left it in the vehicle that fetched us around and it was never returned to me. It cost me over RM100 lor.

More interior views of Naga World (didn’t take many photos because cameras were prohibited in certain areas):

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Speaking of Naga World, I kinda didn’t feel it because it was so much smaller than Casino de Genting and many uncles (probably from China or something) who thronged the casino were disgustingly loud and untidy.

In Naga World, they didn’t seem to care if one is clad in a singlet or wears a pair of slippers. As long as you have money, you’re welcomed!

Early next day, we took some time to stroll down the street before our guide arrived. Nothing much to see though, maybe the location wasn’t a good one.

We went to visit the Royale Palace after that. It struck me as a little weird how the authority was allowing the public into the palace. I mean, is the King not concerned about his security and safety?

From inside the palace:

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I have forgotten if those are the national flower, but we found a lot of them in the Royale Palace and they’re supposed to be something very sacred to the Cambodians.

There were many temple-like buildings with interesting architectures within the palace vicinity:

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Halfway visiting the palace, we were suddenly greeted by…

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A halo!

Waseh, never seen a halo before in my entire life and had to fly all the way to Cambodia to be able to see it!

MUST. CAMWHORE.

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Next we went to visit Wat Phnom (“temple of the hill”), which was originally run by a wealthy widow named Daun Chi Penh. The temple sits on top of an artificial hill, which is the highest land in the city.

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The capital of Phnom Penh (“Penh’s hill”) is named after it. Known for her philanthropic acts when alive, people still maintain and visit her place in order to pay respect to her.

On top of the temple of the hill:

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Statue at a shrine on top of Penh’s hill depicting Daun Chi Penh.

Below Penh’s hill, there was a gigantic clock on the field. This clock, about 20 meters wide, was a gift of friendship from China. Apparently at the time of visit, the clock was a working one.

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The first entry on my Cambodian trip comes to an end here. Part II will be updated next so please check back!

I’m Ken, a passionate traveller from Sarawak on the exotic island of Borneo. Currently a teacher in a rural town in Southern Thailand, from time to time I share on this blog my experiences teaching the kids and living a laid-back lifestyle here. With its focus on all things Thailand, mrdefinite.net also features a handful of stories about my travel adventures in other Asian countries.