Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Our first real excursion after arriving in Asia was a trip to Phnom Penh to visit our friends Adam and Jax. Adam and Jax had moved to Cambodia right after we moved to Hong Kong, on a temporary assignment with an engineering company in Cambodia. We gave them some time to get settled, and set out for a long weekend at the end of September 2015.

Adam and Jax picked us up from the airport with an assortment of beers for the ride- it’s completely ok to drink in cars there (not while driving, of course), and it was a great way to ease us into the insanity of Cambodia traffic. The traffic is like organized chaos- there are lanes that nobody stays in and traffic lights that nobody stops for. Still, we didn’t see a single accident the entire time we were there- Cambodian motor bikers have made a science out of dodging in and out of cars.

Adam and Jax live in a neighbourhood which we sort of likened to Bucktown or Wicker Park in Chicago- there are a fair amount of expats, cool restaurants and shops, and yoga studios, but also some good local culture as well. The first night we had a quick drink at a local bar followed by dinner and then drinks at Harry’s Antiques and Vintage Martini bar which sells antiques downstairs and has a rooftop bar up top (a very cool place to visit, we’d recommend it).

The following day we woke up and dined on some street meat (spicy pork and rice) from the vendors down the block, grabbed smoothies from a local organic juice shop, and hopped in a tuk tuk to explore the city. We stopped by Independence Monument, which was built to commemorate Cambodia’s independence from France in 1958, to take a picture or two. We rode to Olympic Stadium, which has never hosted an Olympic game, to get in a quick workout of stair runs, box jumps, and hill climbs. Scot and Adam found some local kids just outside the stadium and joined a pick up game of soccer. Jax and her gypsy skills found a hotel nearby called 3 Mangos Guesthouse, which allows people to use their pool with the purchase of food and drink, so we headed back to their place to change and hit the pool.

That night we walked across the road to Farm and Table, a really cool new restaurant with fresh eats and good wine. After dinner we headed back to Adam and Jax’s for some drinks and games (Perudo, of course).

Sunday morning we brunched at a French patisserie (Jax has an obsession with their croissants) and headed out to check out the harbor area along the Tonle Sap River. Phnom Penh is situated right where the Tonle Sap and the Mekong Rivers converge, so there is a long stretch of bars, restaurants, and shops along the river. We walked the Russian Market looking for gifts and souvenirs, then arranged a private sunset cruise for later that evening. We ate lunch and had a quick drink overlooking the river at a rooftop bar which had just opened.

That evening we loaded up a cooler with drinks and met our boat driver at the scariest dock we’ve ever walked across in our lives for our sunset cruise. For $30 USD we had a private boat to ourselves, and we sailed up and down the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers watching an incredible sunset- it was so incredible that we ended up adding another hour to the trip (for a total of $40 USD). The sunset cruise was by far the highlight of the trip- we would recommend this to anyone travelling to/ through PP. After dinner we stopped for a drink, then capped off the night with a shot and a beer at the cheesiest night club ever built, Heart of Darkness.

Monday was the end of our stay, but we rounded out the weekend with a final trip to the Russian Market and one last splash at the 3 Mangos pool. It was pouring when we left, and the weather matched our moods- it’s hard to leave good friends after a really great weekend!

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