Dizzy Swallows

Asia Part II: Phnom Penh

Asia Part II: Phnom Penh

January 17th, 2012 1 Comment

The past few days the weather report has forecast, nay, promised me copious amounts of snow. Seattle has braced for the impending snowpocalypse in typical harried fashion. Yet with the exception of a few half-hearted flurries, the landscape of Seattle-metro remains bleakly, soggily normal. I take this as a personal affront since this thrice-cursed Asian plague refuses to let me get healthy, leaving me beached on the couch beneath a pile of blankets rather than being productive at school. A snow day would at least assuage my over-active-honor-student of a conscience. Sigh.

Update: Ask and ye shall receive! We woke up to a winter wonderland!

However. At least I can be productive on the blogging front, eh? So it’s on to the second installment of our Asia trip!

From Pho Quoc, we boarded a speed ferry to the mainland. Now, as you are all no doubt aware, as an islander I was practically raised on ferries. This, my dears, was a beast of another breed. With the name “Super Dong” (the Vietnamese currency is dong…super dollar?) blazed across the hull, this ferry was more of a silver bullet. Or death trap, take your pick. Completely enclosed, with the exception of several somewhat perfunctory windows, the passenger cabin felt instantly oppressive. The situation was not helped once we got underway, thumping down with bone-jarring ferocity on each wave, and listing disturbingly to one side. Nor by the numerous locals vomiting less-than-discreetly into bags provided by the stoic cabin-crew. It was thanks to their apparent lack of concern and my iPod that I made it through the next 1.5 hours without crushing every bone in Jacob’s hand.

The day just got better from there. We were attempting to make our way from the border town of Ha Tien to the city of Phnom Penh, about a 4 hour bus ride. After cooling our heels for several hours in a local cafe-cum-bus station, we enjoyed a scuffle at the Cambodian border (after a 30 minute run-down of forms, stamps, customs fees both real and imagined) when the driver attempted to exchange our air-conditioned bus for a 10 “seat”, absolute lemon of a van (there were 15 people, plus baggage).

moto load
There is a scooter under that pile there in the middle. Typical example of cross-border transport vehicle.

Thanks to Jacob’s take-no-prisoners attitude and the translation help of the wonderful Mango Bay staff (via cell), we were able to bypass this typical scam, securing a private vehicle for ourselves and a lovely French couple, Elisabeth and Sylvain. These two were (are) traveling all around the world over the course of a year (check out their blog here! English translation follows the French). After such a day, it was wonderful to end it safely in Phnom Penh, enjoying a meal with new friends.

And so, on to the photos! I’ve added a new feature so you can click on an image to enlarge it. I should have done this ages ago…


Phnom Penh has a decidedly less hectic feel to it than Saigon. But that is exchanged for far more odoriferous streets. Can’t win ’em all.

tuk tuk

My first tuk tuk ride!


We only had one day before heading up to Siem Reap, but it was just enough to do a quick tour of the major sites. Our first stop was the National Museum, a beautiful, red stone edifice, filled with a rather impressive collection of ancient sculptures and artifacts.


There was no photography inside the museum, but I snapped a few of the interior courtyard.


Next, it was on to the Royal Palace.





I loved the beautifully painted murals.


And the rather alien-looking vines!



Requisite tourist photos…



It’s easy to get lost in the endless detail.


After such a memorable time in Vietnam, Cambodia hadn’t quiet won me over yet, but the country was starting to grow on me. Though hopefully not literally…


Travel tales and photos to be continued in Part III…

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One Response to “Asia Part II: Phnom Penh”

  1. steve in fh says:

    That’s what I’m talkin’ bout! Great photos and narrative. Read Parts I and II and Fidel and Emil’s wedding. All fabulous. Good to see you two last weekend. Did Jacob get his taillight fixed? How about Jessie’s sound system? Off to follow you links… love, steve