Sunday, April 1, 2012

Phnom Penh - getting to know you

In many ways Phnom Penh is rather like Vientiane. Both are relatively quiet & laid back towns (by Asian standards), both are on the riverside and neither has a wealth of tourist attractions.  But that said, we really enjoyed our time in PP.

After checking into the hotel we decided to walk down to the waterfront and have a drink at the Foreign Correspondent's Club. Having a happy hour drink at the FCC is just one of those things you do.  The three storey bar with it’s open air spaces seems older than it actually is.  It was opened in 1993 and from the FCC website was this quote
“when The "F" first opened its doors, the bar gave shelter from the gritty and tense streets of the capital, where an uneasy peace was just taking hold. Writers and their sources traded secrets in the shadows. Diplomats drank their per diems, swapped social strategies and spilled their martinis”
We stayed on for a pretty average meal.

The next day we embarked on the walking tour mapped in the Lonely Planet.  It was an excellent way to see the inner city with it’s wide streets and plenty of French colonial buildings

houses

Past the railway station which is no longer used.  Asian Development Bank (ADB) & Ausaid are involved in a rail rehabilitation project, but as of late March 2012 the Australians look like they might be pulling out.
railway
Through the Psar Thmei, the central market.  Built by the French in an Art Deco style it’s large dome creates natural air air-conditioning.  Even though it was sweltering outside, it was really cool inside (and really yellow). 

CM1
cm2

Down a number of streets, all specialising in something.  One had carvers, carving statues, ornaments and official signage

artstreet


PP has it’s Independence Monument.  Modelled on the central tower from Angkor Wat, this marks the 1953 independence from France.

Independence

We didn’t cross the round about to where the monument sits in the middle.  As few road crossings as possible are the order of the day.  Traffic has no obvious rules and while vehicles & bikes travel relatively slowly there is chaos and numerous traffic jams. Other city working on more vehicles than the roads are built to handle.

Below is just one of the many we encountered on tuk-tuk rides.  This included a large cargo of toilet bowls being towed by a motorbike.  Every one just creeps through until a gap is made or found.

traffic

Just a small example of local car pooling  and reducing traffic on the roads :-)
transport

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