City Panoramic, December 2015. Arriving in the smoky buzz of Phnom Penh felt like the perfect Asian daydream. Winding our way towards the hotel in our tuk-tuk, there were flashes of fluorescent market stalls, locals munching on sizzling meat sticks and the spectral forms of wobbly high-rises reflecting in the River Mekong. The next morning we awoke to a glorious day of blue-sky perfection, the sun shining so impossibly bright we could barely see.
Samnang Laor Hotel, December 2015. It’s impossible to look back on those action-packed Phnom Penh days without mentioning our wonderful hotel; a fancy four-star joint that stands within walking distance (about fifteen minutes) from Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. As promised, a driver picked us up from the bus station and safely deposited us at the foot of the lobby steps. But from here things took an odd turn as the night manager apologized profusely that we hadn’t been picked up. “No, we WERE picked up, it’s fine!” I tried to explain. He then insisted on debating Daryl as to whether or not he might be an altogether different guest. “Um… no, I’m definitely me!” Happily installed in our plush, spacious, ensuite twin, the confusion continued with an unexpected knock at the door. And so appeared a young boy carrying a gigantic fruit platter, accompanied by a written apology for not being picked up. “A magnificent incompetence!” grinned Daryl.
Legend Cinema, December 2015. As luck would have it, our stay in Phnom Penh coincided with the closing ceremony of the city’s 6th International Film Festival. Admittedly curious by the prospect of catching a glimpse of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, we ended up popping our heads in for a look. Security was amazingly lax and I could pretty much wander about as I pleased. But after an hour or so of watching local pretty young things come and go, we ultimately found the lure of a Mexican dinner much more enticing.
Riverside Promenade, December 2015. A highlight of a visit to Phnom Penh is a stroll down its atmospheric promenade, with amazing views out over The Mekong. It’s a really vibrant area, with one side of the street packed with restaurants, bars, cafes and shops, the other chock-a-block with people chatting, sleeping, exercising, dog-walking and playing hackey sack.
Mekong River, December 2015. Needless to say a trip out across The Mekong is a must! We ended up taking the last boat of the day, a sixty-minute sunset cruise that offered wonderful perspectives of the riverfront architecture and its blending colours. This unmissable landmark is the famous Sokha Hotel, a luxurious five star residence with an outdoor pool that has to be seen to be believed!