Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day 1 in Cambodia: Phnom Penh

To start, a Spaz update: I actually unpacked last night. Not out of some sort of new found love of unpacking but because I was looking for my journal. Confirmed: it must have fallen out of my handbag somewhere between Cambodia and Korea. For those of you who don't know me personally, I write compulsively. And when I travel I keep a record of what I do when and the names of things I ate especially now that I blog so I don't go 'and then I ate some funky noodle dish.'

I'm really bummed about this. I don't think I've ever lost a journal before (as evidenced by the giant shelf of journals I have in NY) and to boot this was a beautiful silk covered one that I bought last year in China. It did have my Korean address in the back so maybe some good Samaritan will mail it to me?

Actual tales from my travels!

So we had arranged to have a pick up by our hotel at the airport but they somehow didn't remember to do it. No worries, we pulled out the address, insisted to a driver that we had already paid for this hotel and didn't want another, and were off on our very first tuk tuk ride. A tuk tuk is a covered carriage thingy pulled by a motorcycle. Lots of fun though kind of nerve racking in the busy, dusty streets of Phnom Penh. I finally ended up closing my eyes during busy intersections and asking Cragon to tell me when we were through.
See how there are only 3 people on that motor bike? I have seen 5 people crammed on many times. Apparently there is a helmet law requiring the first person to wear a helmet since I saw someone driving without one get pulled over. Because you know, the people sitting behind the driver won't get hurt at all in an accident.

First stop: the museum. Mainly statues, temple carvings and writing tablets. What I loved best was that all of the tablets had translations of what they said posted. I mean looking at old writing is cool but not nearly as interesting and finding out what it says. The only disappointment was the post card selection where they tried to charge a dollar for a single post card. That's expensive by American standards!
And a very pretty building, built specifically for the museum in the early 1900s. EXACT INFO IS IN MY JOURNAL. Also, my guide book but I'm not at home right now...
"Oh how I search for things...with closed eyes!"....or how I become slightly delirious in the sun and do increasingly ridiculous poses. This is taken in the courtyard of the museum.

Onwards, we fended off very determined tuk tuk drivers who were determined to get our business to drive us to the royal palace even though it's only a 5 minute walk away. 
I don't think I will ever stop being amused by monks on motorcycles.
 The royal palace was actually much better than I had expected. In my Lonely Planet guide, the picture and description made it seem a little lame but in reality, it was stunningly beautiful even though you couldn't enter most of the buildings (since they are in use by the royal family). Unfortunately, we visited it in the afternoon when it was blazing hot and with very little shade or refuge from the heat. I recommend going in the morning but it wasn't open the morning we arrived due to a function or something. 

Oh look at that magnificent ankle brace! I'm in front of the throne room here.

Monkeys in the complex. Very cute!
Pavilion thing. My descriptive powers know no bounds!
Lots of very cool doors for me to photograph. Unfortunately, I was having a little trouble framing pictures well in the intense sunlight but I got better at it as the trip progressed.

So I remember taking detailed notes about what we ate at this restaurant...and all I remember is that the starter was a green mango salad and possibly the most amazing thing that I've ever tasted.

I have no idea what we ate except for the fact that it was absolutely glorious and we devoured every single bite. The waiter had actually studied Korean for awhile in an effort to get a job in South Korea but the paperwork to get a visa was prohibitively expensive and complicated.

Coming up tomorrow: Day 2!


Nancy K said...

Sorry about your journal Alex. The food looks wonderful. It's interesting what you'll try away from home. It's as if you need to be away from home to be an adventurous eater.

Josh said...

your descriptive power seems boundless!!! sorry to hear about your journal....

it seems like common sense that only the driver of a motorized open-air vehicle needs a helmet! people are protected from falling off the back by...... monkeys???

Alex said...

@Josh: Monkeys unite to protect craniums everywhere!

@Mom: Pretty much.

Kyle Crum said...

Yes, there is a law requiring that the first driver wear a helmet. At least in Cambodia, they wear them! In Thailand, they keep the helmets in a basket on the front of the scooter and then only put it on if they see a cop. Seems to defeat the purpose of a helmet, but what do I know?

Josh said...

from my extensive personal experiences i have learned that helmets = GOOD idea

Alex said...

Thank you Kyle! I figured that was why they got pulled over. are the reason I preached to all of my friends in elementary school (and beyond) to wear their helmets. I was like 'my brother would be DEAD if he hadn't worn his.'

I was a morbid little kid.

Nancy K said...

You're still a morbid kid!