Do I love or hate Phnom Penh?
After Siem Reap, I went to Phnom Penh. I heard much about this city and was really eager to see it. After spending a few days here, I am not sure if I love ( + ) or if I hate ( – ) this city.
( – ) TukTuk Drivers: hundreds, no thousands, the most annoying ones I ever met.
( + ) The guy from my guesthouse. He just opend a few months ago and is currently building his restaurant. He was a blast. Took us (3 US guys and me) around in his car, to karaoke and beer, cooked an ate dinner with us… Props, Ruti!
( – ) Hookers. At least as many as TukTuk Drivers. And in low season not enough (male) tourists around.
( — ) Western expats. Mostly in close connection to the hookers. It is just disgusting.
( + ) Nightlife (except hookers). Great bars, clubs and restaurants.
( + ) History and Culture. With the Killing Fields and the former S-21 Prison (now a genocide museum) Phnom Penh is a must, if you want to know more about the Khmer Rouge and their brutality. The S-21 Prison is comparable to a visit to the Nazi Concentration Camps Dachau or Auschwitz. It is really a sad and disturbing place. A place, where a primary school was turned into a prison, where the inmates were tortured and raped before they were driven to the nearby Killing Fields and beaten to death to safe ammunition..
( + ) The city itself. Not as smelly and dirty as expected, great french houses in some parts, little alleys, wooden houses on the lake, lots of construction going on.
( – ) Various tourist attractions like Shooting a M-60 machine gun. I have to admit that I also went to one of those shooting ranges. I didnt shoot, but the guys I chartered the TukTuk that day wanted to.. You can pick a weapon (submachine guns up to an M60) and shout some rounds. I never heared gunfire before. It is really really loud. You can even pick a chicken from a cage and shoot that. I also heard that you can shoot a cow with a rocket launcher for a 1000 bucks. And I believe it.
Well, I could go on… in the end I was happy, in a way, to get out. And still there were some great moments.
Right now, I am back in Thailand. I flew from Phnom Penh to Bangkok, took a bus to Chiang Mai and continued directly to Pai… More about that soon!