Monday, May 2, 2011

Phnom Penh

Its quite a big group. 10 of us exploring the city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. After touched down at the airport and taking the journey to the hotel, what could I summarize is that the country is quite backward. The development, the road system and the feel make you feel that you are in the 70s. US$ is well accepted, but make sure you have a small notes as its quite hard to find small change. Changed in cents will be converted to Cambodian Riel which is equivalent to around US$1 to 4000 Riel.

We stayed at Holiday Villa, a hotel owned by a Malaysian. The hotel is centrally located. Only 3 minutes walk to the Central Market, famous factory outlet, halal food and other attractions in Phnom Penh.

Upon arrival at the hotel, we started our strolling at the Central Market. The market sold almost everything, cambodian silk, souvenirs, clothes, electronic items, jewellery, gen stones, food and anything everything you just name it. In the afternoon we make a trip to the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. This museum is a converted school to a cells during the Pol Pot regime where civilians and those opposed to the Pol Pot were tortured regardless whether you are man, women, child or old folks. What a cruel regime. In the building you can see various pictures that shows how the victims were tortured and also pictures those who are tortured.

After the Toul Sleng Museum we make a move to the Killing Fields. This place is where the killed victims at the Toul Sleng prison are buried. At the area you can see skulls, bones and clothes of the victims are kept in a Khmer architecture building. A short video presentation is also presented to explain on the history of the Killing Field and overall cruelty of Pol Pot Regime.

After the two visits we move to the Royal Palace area, which for me is the most well organised area in the City. Did not explore the Palace complex which seem to be quite large. We just walk and walk to taste the feel of Phnom Penh. The city does not seems to be pedestrian friendly and the air are dusty. At night we walk to the riverside area. Phnom Penh is located at the intersection of Tonle Sap and Mekong River. The riverside area is quite westernised with a lot of western bars lining at the riverside area that cater for tourist. However overall the area need further improvement.

Our next day is filled with shopping at the Russian Market. A market that again sell everything and anything. Buy an antique bowl and some souvenirs. Also this is the place where original branded items for Levi's, Abercrombie, Columbia, Dockers, Polo Ralph Lauren and lots more are sold. All of the items are made in Cambodia and are an overrun from the factory or those that were rejected due to defects. Very cheap in price. Spend most of the time here. Apart form the market, there are lines of shops outside of the market that sold the branded item in a well organised manner. But the price is a bit pricey for US$1 or US$2 compared to inside of the market. But that is what you have to pay for the air conditioning and some premium service. Bought lots of clothes, Levi's, Dockers, Polo Ralph Lauren, Nike etc.

However the best place to shop is the factory outlet of WE Xport. There are 4 branches in Phnom Penh, 2 at the Russian market area, one near the Monivong Boulevard, just 3 mins walk from Holiday Villa and the largest at Shihanouk Boulevard opposite Lucky Supermarket. This is the place that we visited on our last day in Phnom Penh apart from the Central & Russian Market, doing last minutes shopping.

Overall I enjoyed the trip, with lots of things to bring home. If happen I am visiting Cambodia again, what I will do is to start with Siam Reap, visit the Angkor Wat then heading south to Phnom Penh for shopping.

Adios !!!

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