phnom penh 01.

Cambodia, home of the Cambodians. But from my 4 days visit here I never even once heard that term. The people here much prefer to be called a Khmer.

"What is a Khmer?", I asked to a Cambodian friend. "Khmers are the people of Cambodia, much like Malaysians are the people of Malaysia. So no he is not my Cambodian friend, he is my Khmer friend.

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This trip was actually planned about a month ago. I was supposed to go here on the 27th of August but alas, due to sickness I had to delay the trip to a later time.

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I flew from Singapore to Phnom Penh alone, but I do have a friend, a Khmer friend waiting for me at the airport. The flight wasn't long, just a little over 2 hours. Had an average meal of fish + noodle. The flight also wasn't full. But it was filled with people whom I assumed are from Australia due to their accent.

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The sky looks fine today, I expected the country to be raining or atleast cloudy.

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The pilot announced that we will be landing shortly. I looked at the window to my left, and I knew right away that this is nothing like Malaysia. Green, green, and more green.

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The airport is not very big, but not that small either. I do like the "rural village" theme of the airport. Very easy on the eyes. No problem at the immigration counter at all, though I do exit a little late because I thought I had to fill up the immigration form to enter.

We Malaysians are given visa on arrival.

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Tourists buying local simcards for their stay here. I didn't subscribe to any of these nor do I activate roaming on my phone. Why I don't know.

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Outside the arrival hall, Ersyad, the friend that I mentioned earlier, greeted me. He was wearing a wearing modest blue shirt, with a black slack trousers and ...a pair of "slipar Jepun". I smiled inside. After exchanging salam and hugs, he gave me his cellphone so that I can text abah that I had arrived.

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A Range Rover, there are not many of these in Malaysia. Ersyad says that I will be surprised to see how rich the riches are here.

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Ersyad is the man wearing the blue helmet. Turns out he borrowed his friend's motorcycle to come and fetch me. He payed the parking fees to the guard there and off we go into the city.

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The city was packed with motorcyclists. If I had to give a ratio of motorcycle to cars it is in the likelihood of 100:1, probably more. A very interesting sight to see.

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We can opt to not wear a helmet when riding here in Cambodia - I didn't wear one, not because I don't want to, but because there is only one helmet available. But motorcyclists here drive at a very considerate speed, about 30-50 km/hour so you do feel safe.

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Tuk-tuks are the taxis here, the vehicle to ride if you are coming with more than 1 person. They are also used to transport large amount of items for cheap. But you know, I do notice lots of motorcycles with 3 and 4 riders on it.

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From my observation, the locals here have a very distinct way of driving - want to turn left into that small road next to the roadside stall, or a U-Turn because you missed that particular shop? Just do a simple hand gesture and turn, even with heavy traffic on the other side, the other driver seems to understand this and brake accordingly, some does not brake, they simply sway away from the said driver. I had many close call on my first hour here, but somehow, this all feels normal. The driver here rarely honks their vehicle.

It is hard to explain of their habits in words but see it for yourselves and you'll know what I mean.

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A BMW showroom. I had not seen a single BMW yet but for cars, there are lots and lots of Toyotas and Nexuses. Toyota Camry is the most common model here.

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Oil prices here are not cheap. It costs 4900 Rial for a litre of RON92 petrol. RON97 costs 5100 Rial a litre. Nearly RM5.00 for a litre of oil. Though the official currency of Cambodia is Rial, the currency has been devaluated so much that people here prefer to use US Dollars. Even signboard of restaurants and shops list the prices of items in USD.

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I was brought to an area of Muslims in the city. The mosque is still a work in progress.

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I thought that this was a store of some sort, but this is where many university students live. There are close to 30 people living inside here. Ersyad used to live here as well. I'll elaborate more on this place in my next update. I put my bags and off we went to eat.

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The restaurant is not far, just a 30 second motorcycle ride from the store. I would walk if I knew the restaurant was this close.

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Here it is. This place is confirmed to be halal.

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We chose to sit near the entrance. Not many people inside, probably because it is still 10 in the morning.

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Very simple, and very clean.

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They have free WiFi too, but I couldn't be bothered to ask for a password. I'll just take this time to soak in the information and observe the people in this country.

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Bacchus seems to be this country's most favourite soft drink. It tastes nice, people say it tastes like Red Bull, never had one before so I can't compare. Inside the teapot is well, tea. The tea is free but no sugar is added so it tastes bitter. I thought it was unsweeted cola at first until I was corrected.

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Kuewteow Soup, a local favourite and let me tell you, it is delicious. The soup is made from meat broth, and the taste is very different from bakso or sup perut, or a bowl of soto. Costs 2.00 USD a bowl.

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I actually had this for lunch but I figure I'll just compile it here. A plate of rice white chicken paprik. It tastes almost exactly like those chicken paprik that we ordered at a nearby Tomyam stall but with a twist, notice that they added capsicum as an extra ingredient. That alone make the dish more tasty, in my opinion of course. Can't remember the cost of this because I did not pay for it.

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By e the place was filled with people. Not exactly full house but you know the place is quite popular here.

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But it is not noon yet in this story. After finishing up my bowl of soup, I chatted a bit with Ersyad - asking him the wages, the dilemmas and the costs of living in this country.

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To summarize our conversation, let me just say that the waiter in this shop earns 80.00 USD a month. Yes, they are paid in dollars.

We book a hotel next.

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The view inside my hotel room. Unspectacular isn't it? But tell you what, the hotel only costs me 6.00 USD a night. Roughly around RM22.00 which is a very good deal if you ask me. There's TV and even free WiFi. No aircond, but they do give out towels, tooth brush and soaps. The bathroom is acceptable to use.

I decided to sleep for a few hours. I was tired and I hadn't slept since yesterday.

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After I woke up 4 hours later and after my meal, I was told that I'll be riding a cruise by the Mekong River with Ersyad's friends. We took a stroll around the city to pass some time.

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This jewelry shop is sure to capture you attention with its use of bright colors.

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There are many motorcycle spare part shops in the city. Understandable since they are the main mode of transport here.

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Another one.

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And another. This one selling locks and chains.

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There is no end to these shops. I love it.

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Sugarcane juice, I'd love to try one of these. I was told that it has a different taste than those from Malaysia and Egypt. Perhaps I'll try one tomorrow.

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The river right there is the famous Mekong, the world's 12th longest river. This river is so long that it extends to 6 countries.

There are many river cruises provided. I don't know the cost of renting one of these but for my trip, I only had to pay 4.00 USD for a 2 hour cruise. Note that there are many of us on the boat so we had split the bills by ourselves.

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Before finding the particular cruise we were actually lost. The Mekong River is a long one and there are many boats all around. Ersyad called his friend speaking in the Khmer language that I couldn't understand, we were to meet up near KFC. Of course the KFC here is not halal.

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There is our cruiser. 2 storeys tall.

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It is almost 5.00 PM. The cruiser will start to move at 5.00 PM along the river for 2 hours. "Enjoy the ride and view, it is very beautiful especially at night," said Ariffin, a friend of Ersyad and very fluent in Malay.

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He's now working in the IT industry here. He studied at a university in Malaysia back when he was still a student. "Unlike in Malaysia, companies are still looking for IT people in the industry, that is why many are pursuing this course."

"The wage is good as well, around 300 - 400 USD." He explained. "It may not sound much but it is a lot for us people." Next to Ariffin is Raihan, whom I met earlier at the store (he lived there), studying electrical engineering and Olway, currently studying to be an English Teacher. There is also Asmawi, whom I didn't ask what he is currently studying.

Both are not fluent in Malay but can speak English well.

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We sat by these nice sets of cushions right here.

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The view is nice as well. The sun is setting so we almost always had to shield our eyes from the sunrays.

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None are sitting here since everyone else was upstairs. We were called to also go up and we did. There are about a dozen of other cruisers currently cruising by the Mekong.

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The sea breeze was very relaxing. I could just stand and stare up here for ours.

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These food were all prepared by them. The foods are quite sour, and in a good way. They tastes like Thai food which is a good thing.

For these cruises, since it is hard to find halal food here, it is advised that we bring our own food or order it from reputable halal restaurants.

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The place is packed with people. I guess this is their recreational park.

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Many temples can be observed, and Buddhist monks too. Cambodia is a Buddhist country.

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The sun is setting down, and most of us have already finished dining. I adore this photo due to the lighting.

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Praying is a must no matter where we are. Most phones nowadays are equipped with a compass app so no worry about finding the kiblat. There are even kiblat finding apps available.

We finished our 2 hour cruise shortly thereafter.

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Without wasting time, these guys took me around to see what nightlife is like in Phnom Penh. I didn't take many pictures because it is quite to take nice photos at night without a nice set of flash gun.

But there are tourists everywhere near the Mekong, and countless bars and pubs are open at night with bright lights everywhere.

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We were then directed to Phnom Penh's night market, open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. I was warned early on by Ershad to look after my wallet carefully.

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People are actually eating here sitting cross-legged. What an interesting sight.

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Unfortunately all food sold here are not halal so all I can do is watch. And take pictures.

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There's a concert going on at the centre of the market. The setup of the concert is kind of like Jom Heboh here, albeit a quarter of the crowd.

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This stall seems to be very famous with lots of people, many of them foreigners lining up to order.

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A worker cutting the skin of the sugarcane. That is why the colour of the juice is yellowish, unlike the green ones here in Malaysia.

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See for yourself how packed the place is. I was holding on to my wallet and passport like a mom holding her newborn baby.

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10,000 Rial is around 2.50 USD or about RM8.00.

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But of course like most tourist infected place, the price here are jacked up to 3 times the original price.

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I didn't buy anything, and to be frank al I could think about at this time is to go home and sleep.

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I almost bought this though, these are their own version of lemang but I decided against it since I'm still full.

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What do I think of Cambodia my first day in? A country of many struggling people and in many ways, decades behind my own. But they do have many unique traits and cultures which I love.

In many ways, my story here hasn't started just yet.

1. Phom Penh Part 1
2. Phnom Penh Part 2
3. Tropeungchuk, Kampong Thom - 40 years back to the past.
4. The Unfinished Mosque.
5. Siem Riep & Angkor Wat.


Ahmad Zarif said...

Good info. Perhaps i can used your blog as a reference when i'm going somewhere around the world. Keep writing. Hehe..

||aLeaSaRa|| said...

salam.terima kasih ye singgah tadi.owh mak pun pernah pergi ke sana 2 tahun lepas.suka jugak dengar macam2 cerita dan kamera mak penuh dengan pelbagai foto.

bagus entri ni sangat membantu bagi mereka yang akan ke sana.seronok baca pengalaman arham di sana :)

the malay male said...

rajin betul bro berjalan... saya yang tak pernah pergi ni dapat tengok je la gambar2 kat cni.. dapat gak skit2 feel macam kat sana..hehe

hainom OKje said...

Emmm...nampak crowded bandar dia kan Am....Apa seronok je dengar cerita Am sambil menganga ni hehe....
Kalau tengok gambar gambar tu semua mcm bersyukur duduk dalam negara sendiri, apa pun banyak berjalan luas pengalamankan....
Mana nak beli? betul tak?

Azimah Shukor said...


Daddy said...

Blog hopping and got here. Nice blog. Have not been to Phnom Penh yet. Only Siam Reap but looking at your pictures, am definitely tempted especially for street photography. If you free, you are invited to drop by my traveling and photography blog at Cheers.

Chic Na said...

am buat pe kat sana? bestnya asyik jalan2 je.. bila nak balik malaysia?

♥♥szumika sakni♥♥ said...

I love to read this entry simple and full of unexpected situation. Nice suka sagt hehe... tapi lambat loading huhu.

Cik Pensil said...

tersenyum sendirian tgk gambar2 diatas. ada lagi? hik :)

Sis AI said...

Perghhh.. Seriously lain drpda yg lain! Naik motor tak pakai helmet, pasar malam dah macam kenduri bersila bagai.. Pergh. Memang interesting gila la. Ibu sy punya mmber org Kemboja. Dia slalu balik Keomboja. Entah knapa rsa mcm nk follow je dia prgi sna. Seriously interesting. Tringin nk travel luar ngara, tgk budaya, cra hidup diorg mcm ni..

Tinta Lana said...


Yang pasal driving ethic kat sana, lana pernah tgk kat tv..rasa mmg kt cambodia. Katakan la, kita sbg pejalan kaki, kita berjalan then berhenti tgh jalan, pastu ada kereta yg dtg kearah kita.

Kereta tu sanggup berhenti,buat reversed, pusing ikut blkg kita. Lebih kurg camtu lah.

Phnom penh night market..uhuii, kalau ajak ladies pergi sini, habis duit,ekekeke

Am buat apa sebenarnya pi sana? Next entry ya.. ;)

Anonymous said...

Kalau kakak akak n geng2 dia pergi kemboja utk beri bantuan pd anak yatim n org miskin di sana...betul ke,daging korban tu,org miskin di sana dpt mkn setahun sekali je?tulang lembu tersebut di rebus berkali2 utk buat sop sehingga dh takde rasanya....telur ayam pula antara mkn mewah iaitu setahun sekali juga...kalau dh telur ayampun setahun sekali...ayam pula mcmana?bila masa mereka dpt makan?akak cuma dgr cerita je...wallahualam....