Friday 13 April, 2018
Day 16 / Phnom Penh
[Missed Day 15? Read the previous post here]
It’s the last day of our trip before we fly back home. Cheye decides to join me for a run along river and it’s already hot and humid when we head out at 7am. We see two other runners but everyone else is busy preparing for New Year celebrations that start tonight. We also see a few older locals with small sparrows trapped in a number of cages. The idea is they get tourists to pay them to release them back into the wild; the problem is they just get caught again and the cycle is repeated.
We return to the hotel, check out and leave our bags at reception to pick up later. We originally had plans to go to Central Market but after hearing reports they are quite touristy we make our way to the Russian Markets (Tuol Tom Poung) instead. It’s on the other side of town and a bit of a hike but decide there’s plenty of time before our flight that evening.
We make a stop at a bottle shop down the road as Cheye wants to check out their whisky range. He picks up a bottle of Glenmorangie Highland 18yo Single Malt Scotch Whisky which is not only rare as hen’s teeth but also quite cheap in Cambodia.
We pass by a Japanese bakery ‘Sancha’ and pick up some breakfast. Down the road there’s another bread shop called Bayon Bakery and I take note of it for later as we are just around the corner from the market.
I was doing some reading on the Russian Market the night before and it’s always funny seeing other people’s reviews of foreign places on Trip Advisor. You always get opposite ends of the spectrum, some people say “Amazing! We bought so much! Make sure you try the mango shake and don’t forget to haggle!” while others say “Such a disappointment. We spent an hour there but did not buy a thing – it’s all jewellery and smells like fish. The place is claustrophobic and there is no ventilation. It was so hot inside I could literally feel sweat dripping off me! AVOID!!” I recall British comedian Michael McIntyre does a hilarious stand-up piece about Trip Advisor.
The first thing I want to buy is some shaved ice dessert that I’ve been craving for a few days. I have a bit of a knack of telling the shop owner what I want by pointing.
Cheye gets the mango shake that he’s had a hankering for since our bus ride. We wander through and see lots of shops selling souvenirs, clothes and shoes (Asians seem to go crazy for cheap fashion?!). We purchase a few gifts but I let Cheye do all the haggling because he’s so much better at it. It’s hilarious hearing the ridiculous things the shopkeeper tries to say when they haggle back.
“How much for this shirt?”
“Noooo…in Kampong Thom, only two dollars!”
“But they use different material. This, better quality”
Haha…nice try. “Two-fifty then…”
“No….two-fifty. Last offer.”
“OK….” *sigh* “Don’t make any money then…”
We still have loads of time to kill so we go to Bayon Bakery for the air con but stay for some pizza and bread. We did discuss catching a tuk tuk back to the guest house but decide to walk back as we still have so much time. We wander back, pick up our bags and sit in coffee shop next door to stay out of the heat until our time comes to make our way to the airport. We use up the last of our riel as Cambodian currency is useless outside of the country. I’m left with a 1,000 riel note which is worth about 25 US cents.
We catch a tuk tuk to the airport. The driver tries to charge $10, saying there is a lot of traffic due to New Year but we are firm on $8 telling him that’s the hotel flat rate. And there is no traffic. Nice try.
When we first flew to Thailand, we had no check in luggage and 7kg of carry-on luggage between the two of us. Because of international liquid restrictions, we need to check-in the whiskey as it’s over 100ml. So after a bit of shuffling and repacking, we check-in one of Cheye’s cycling bags, padded out with all the clothes we can fit to protect the prized liquid. I’m worried from the start that it will smash in transit – and as we pop it in the oversized luggage area it gets stuck in transition between the two giants belts. We ask the guy working to help push it on. Oh dear. I’m so worried about it, but it lasts the entire journey including a stop-over in Bangkok. I guess if that’s the biggest worry at the end of the trip then we’re doing alright. When we arrive home, Cheye pulls the bottle out of the bag like a trophy and replaces it delicately back in its box as we await our ride home.