I’ve been saying no more hot humid destinations but here I was, just one more.
I was trying to plan a combined trip of Vietnam and Cambodia spanning across two weeks but I decided too much time is lost in moving between cities, and much more between countries. I really wanted to see Cambodia before it becomes super popular so I decided on one country and three destinations – Phnom Penh, Mondulkiri, and Siem Reap.
My flight arrived at night and as a solo-traveller there is a bit of planning to stay safe in a foreign place, I planned to arrive in the hotel before midnight with enough time for a quick supper and before all that, I needed to grab a SIM card and a bit of local currency. I was surprised how easy and quick it was to do everything I needed to do including getting a taxi to the hotel; I don’t recall Sydney’s arrival terminal to be that convenient.
I managed to squeeze in a delicious supper and a cocktail, all in time to be in bed before midnight, like a Cambodian Cinderella.
It was rather difficult to decide a neighbourhood for my stay in Phnom Penh but eventually I decided on BKK1 for my first night and Riverside at the end of my two-week holiday. BKK1 was a good choice for the overnight stay, I spent the morning walking around checking out the markets, cafes and a few landmarks. At the end of my trip, I stayed in Riverside for a few nights where there are more markets including Central Market, lots of restaurants by the river, major landmarks such as Wat Phnom, Silver Pagoda and the Royal Palace.
In hindsight, I think it was a good decision to do the sombre part of my trip at the end of my trip, the Killing Field and Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (S21). I had friends visiting Phnom Penh who joined me visiting these educational and emotional places, heartbreaking and gruesome, and it was very rewarding to be able to share the experience with friends rather than bottling it all up. I truly hope that humanity has learned a lesson and the atrocity that happened in Cambodia will never happen again, anywhere.
I skipped floating villages in Tonle Sap despite the beautiful photos because it has only 3 stars on TripAdvisor and 2 too many blogs that described the plan as a tourist trap with tricks and cheats, and some suggested that the place is kept impoverished for tourist entertainment.
I had a late flight on my last day in Phnom Penh and since the swimming pool was out of order, I braved the heat and checked out another market and another landmark (read: another temple). The heat was memorable, I can still feel the burning heat on my skin, seeing my skin darkened by the second, the sweat dripping and soaking my t-shirt and shorts, and the sheer frustration that I was too close to the hotel to get a tuk-tuk but too hot to continue the walk. I’m sure a tuk-tuk driver would have accepted my short-ride but I just couldn’t.