[Day 6] Riding from Neak Loeung to Phnom Penh!
I slept really well after the first slice of the road in Cambodia. Almost half a day to be more exact!
Pulling down the curtain of the room provided an amazing view of the Mekong lowlands where this village is located. Some local children are playing in the little scrapyard behind the guesthouse. A moment later, they are chased away by an angry man working here.
We got the message from the host that the check out time is at noon and that we will need to pay extra for checking out later.
A smart notice: always check with your host when is the check out time, so that you don’t need to pay an extra fee.
Riding out into the town was a profound experience. The ambiance looks like I’ve been transported a decade or two in the past. Some scenes remind of a Wild West ambiance. Dusty roads and wooden houses further enhance that vibe. Ordering food from the locals here is wonky if you don’t know the phrases. Also, the locals love to group up and just stare at us and make unknown comments. It’s a fun experience!
It is good to remember that in the rural part of Cambodia, English is not spoken that much; so it is essential to learn a few Khmer phrases!
After managing to order some tasty food, we found a place to sit and drink coffee. The coffee place also looks very run-down, like a saloon; but the warm smile of the beautiful lady makes up for it. And the coffee is awesome too! After relaxing and observing the flow of the market in front of the saloon, we went to the gas station to fill up our bikes.
Buying at the local gas station can be a chore, as there was no specified price on board, so the vendor could put out the price he wished. The thing is, you need to bargain in this situation if you don’t want to get ripped off (compared to the more ‘modern’ gas stations).
Finally, after filling up our bikes with much-needed gas, it was time to ride the second slice of the path to Phnom Penh. To exit the town, we had to pass the longest bridge in all of Cambodia, spanning 2 kilometers. We stopped for a while an awed at the majestic Mekong River and the surrounding coastline. Words cannot express how beautiful a sight that is!
Fast forward 20 kilometers, we stopped at a roadside restaurant to get a refreshment and a warm meal. Finally, we managed to communicate with a lady that we want beef and rice. Inside a restaurant was an ecstatic old man who recognized Croatian football players. He said that ‘Kampuchea and Croatia friends forever!’. A really warm welcome. He was even escorting us to our bikes just across the restaurant and gave us each a hug. We continued to Phnom Penh afterward.
Some 15 kilometers in front of Phnom Penh, there were finally some lights on the road! Also, the road boosted in overall quality too! Can’t say about the traffic through… Even though the people obey the traffic rules here more than in Vietnam, the traffic is very chaotic once the tuk-tuks and cars start popping in. Anyways, we settled down in Okay Guesthouse and decided to take a walk around Phnom Penh at night.
The guesthouse is just between Wat Bokun Park and the riverside. We started our walk on the riverside, which is a pavement along the Mekon River coast. It looks well-designed, is relatively clean, and it attracts a lot of people wishing to relax by the Mekong. It also attracts a lot of street food stalls, one of them was selling fried bugs and frogs! We tried a few of them, but for me, it is a one time try! What I like about Phnom Penh is the vibe you can feel in the air. It has that laid back, relaxing aura flowing right through it that I just couldn’t notice in Saigon. Maybe, that’s because of the time constraint, who knows? But, the riverside also surprised me by how clean it is.
We walked to the center to Happy Pizza Place. Happy Pizza is popular around Cambodia for cannabis. They make pizza and put cannabis on it, giving you a mellow high at best. We ordered 2 small ones that cost about 6$ and enjoyed every bite of them. Just type in ‘Happy Pizza’ in Google Maps once you’re in Phnom Penh and you will find some places where you can order this kind of pizza. You can also score Cambodian Bush there, the price is as low as 1$/g. (the quality translates to that amount too!)
After getting slightly hammered by pizzas, we went back to our guesthouse through the relaxing Wat Bokun park and went to sleep. Tomorrow, we will explore more of what Phnom Penh has to offer for us!
To get up to date, check out the previous chapter!