Monday, 11 January 2010

Phnom Penh trip - 11 Jan 10

We wake up at 7.30am and left the guest house at 9am. We went for breakfast first before heading to Oudong. Narith drove us to a local coffeeshop and we had vermicelli and you tiao for breakfast. Their vermicelli is very soft, more like mee sua. The you tiao here is about half the length of the you tiao in Singapore. Their coffee is very sweet as they add almost 1/3 cup of milk. We requested for less milk. Altogether, we ordered two bowl of vermicelli, 2 plate of you tiao and 3 cup of coffee. The breakfast cost 21,000 Riel ~ S$7.35.

Coffee shop

You tiao & Coffee
Beef ball vermicelli
Chicken vermicelli

Along the way, we bought mineral water at Convenience store. Btw, the brand we bought is "High Tech" and Narith told us that this is the best brand in Cambodia. The price is definitely more expensive but still way cheaper than Singapore. A 600ml cost about US$0.25 ~ S$0.35 and 1.5l cost about US$0.50 ~ S$0.70. The convenience store where we bought mineral water today is a bit expensive compared to yesterday.

The Post Office in Phnom Penh is a French colonial building. At first glance, it looks alike as the Ho Chi Minh City General Post Office.

Phnom Penh post office
Convenience store
We are really very lucky that we are sheltered from the sun and rain when we took public transport in Singapore. The local transport here is just wooden planks for the locals to sit on it attached to a motorbike at the front and is not sheltered from the sun and rain.
Local transport
Fish pond
See the temple at the top of the hill? It's Oudong
Bridge under construction

After 1 hr journey, we reached Oudong. The admission fee is US$1 ~ S$1.40. Narith drove all the way to the end as he told us to ascend from here which is less tedious than the 509 steps at the entrance.

Oudong was the capital of Cambodia from 1618 to 1866 before it was moved to Phnom Penh. It was extensively bombed by the American forces during the Vietnam War and damaged by the Khmer Rouge in 1977.

When we are on our way climbing up the stairs, a guy came forward and spoke to us in English. He was panting and we asked him to speak slowly. Then 2 ladies selling flower and incense also came along, asking us to buy flower and incense from them. We bought a flower each at R2000 ~ S$ 0.70.

At the foot of Oudong

The first temple which we entered house a big buddha in meditation position.

Big buddha
View from the temple
Another temple

According to the guy who accompanied us, he told us that the cobras head are usually in single digit, either 3,5,7 or 9. 9 Cobras head represent the highest power while 3 represent the lowest power.

5 cobras head
A stupa
Cham people (Enthic muslim)
Another temple
Stupa of King Monivong
Saw the holes in the branches?
More steps to climb

We stopped for a rest at a hut selling pickled mango. We bought it for R2000 ~ S$0.70. The mango is sour and hard, unlike the ones in Singapore. There is a mixture of salt, chilli and dunno what powder for dipping the mango.

Pickled mango

Countryside view

Stupa of King Ang Duong

Modern temple home to a famous Buddha relic
Paranomic view
A mosque at the top of the hill
Mother and son from Switzerland
This guy who accompanied us

Colourful Bougainvillea Walking down 509 steps

My sis and the monkey

After we descended, we discussed on the tips to give to the guy and we decided to give him 10,000 Riel ~ S$3.50. This is the largest tips we had given out so far as he could speak English and explain to us each and every structure (Although I didnt really listen to his explanation on every structure). We were pissed off with him when he asked us for US$10. Shouldnt it be us who decide how much tips he get? Luckily Narith came to our rescue and told him off. He reluctantly accepted it and we walked away with Narith.
There are stalls selling foods and we bought a few variety of fruits. We tried tamarind which is used to make Assam. It taste a sweet and sour. We also bought barbeque egg for consumption later.
Saw the peanut structure fruit? It's tamarind
Dried palm fruit
Fried food
Mini crabs grown in the lake
Barbeque egg
Dunno what is the name of this vegetable?
Barbeque fish
Dunno what kueh? Not very nice
Lotus fruit

We went back the way which we came just now. There are 6 highways in Cambodia which are numbered as National Road 1, National Road 2 etc. For general knowledge:
- National Road 1 connects Phnom Penh to Bavet in Svay Rieng Province and Vietnam border
- National Road 2 connects Phnom Penh to Takeo and Vietnam border
- National Road 3 connects Phnom Penh to Veal Rinh and Sihanoukville
- National Road 4 connects Phnom Penh to Veal Rinh and Sihanoukville
- National Road 5 connects Phnom Penh to Battambang and Thailand border
- National Road 6 connects Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey and Thailand border
- National Road 7 connects Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham and Laos border
In my opinion, the highway here are not exactly expressway, it looks more like major tar road. Before reaching Phnom Penh, the car drove over the Japanese bridge(Chroy Chung Va Bridge) which cross the Tonle Sap river. It is commonly called the Japanese bridge as it was built using Japanese funds.

Japanese bridge
Overloaded public transport

We came to a small jetty to board the ferry to Mekong Island. In fact, there is not signboard or any berth which indicates that this is a jetty. It is just a muddy road linking to the edge of the river so that the cars and motorbikes could drive directly into the ferry.

While blogging, I realised that the island we went to is Silk weaving village (Koh Dach) and not Mekong Island (Koh Okhna Tey) when I'm sorting the photos we took. But when i goggle, I guess a lot of people mixed up that Mekong Island is Koh Dach.
I don't know how much Narith paid the ferry operator. I google and found that it cost 500 riel for one person, 2000 riel for a person and their moto, and 8000 riel for a car and its passengers. Even though Narith earns US$40 from us today, he mentioned that his net earning is only US$20 as the petrol and ferry fare is borne by him.

Ferry crossing the Mekong river Ferry docking for passenger to board Ferry departing to Mekong Island

We met a lady from Belgium who came here with her guy friend. She came to visit Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand for a month. I wondered how she know the roads from Phnom Penh to this ferry terminal as there was no obvious direction sign and manged to cycle here?
On the ferry

Once we reach Mekong Island, we head to the the beach to have our lunch. The roads here are sandy road, no paved road at all.

Houses on Mekong Island

This is the photo which make me realise that we visited the Silk Weaving Island not Mekong Island.

On the way to the beach, we had to pay US$1 ~ S$1.40 when we passed through a booth. Finally we reached the beach at 2pm. It is scorching hot. There are thatch huts lining along the shore and we had to walk in the water to reach the hut. The level is not very deep, until our knee level only.

Walking to the hut in the sea

A big straw map is given for us to seat on it. Once we sit down at the hut, a lot of local brought food, fruits and clothes asking us too buy them. We just keep saying "No, no, no". Narith bought the glutinous rice wrapped with jackfruit only. Seeing that we didnt want to buy anything, all the locals left.
Inside the hut
An empty hut
A fishing boat

This is the barbequed egg we bought at Oudong just now. It is very delicious. 4 eggs cost 1200 Riel ~ S$0.42.
The barbeque egg we bought at Oudong

Narith treated us the glutinous rice wrapped with jackfruit while we wait for our lunch to be cook. It is delicious too.

Glutinous rice wrapped with jackfruit
View on the beach from the hut

We waited for about half an hour before our lunch is served. The food are only cooked after we ordered. I wonder if they slaughter the chicken upon takin orders? Luckily we ate the eggs and glutinous rice, otherwise we will be famished. Narith ordered a whole fried kampong chicken and morning glory which cost US$12 ~ S$16.80.
There were not many people at the huts but Narith told us that it is very crowded during weekends. Narith told us that he has not visited here for a long time, he used to come here every weekend with his friend when he was single.
We chatted as we ate our lunch. Soon, we were joined by a dog. Narith gave some bones to the dog and it ate happily. 2 more dogs joined in the feast.
Our lunch

After our lunch, we went to the toilet located at the beach. The toilet is just a small hut with a hole dug deep into the sand. When I came out, a local lady keep talking to me at a but I don't understand what she is saying. But I guess she is asking for money as I saw a sign hang outside the toilet with Khmer words and 1,000. I walked towards Narith for his rescue. I saw Narith paid the lady 2000 Riel and I am correct that we had to pay for using the toilet. I paid Narith back 2000 Riel. It's not cheap to use the toilet here, each person is 1,000 Riel ~ S$0.35, that's expensive.
Guess who is who?

Narith told us that he used to have a friend who live here but he died few years ago. We were searching for his friend's house and after asking few locals, we managed to locate it.

Thatch house
Local student cycling home
Silk weaving

Another local fruit Me @ Koh Dach

It's amazing that Narith's Camry is able to go between the 2 coconut trees infront
Narith's friend houseHuge jar to collect rain water
This chair can even be repaired

We spent about half an hour at Narith's friend house. Currently, it's Narith's friend sister and her husband living here. Narith was chatting with them while I lie on the hammock and enjoy swinging it.

I like the hammock
Stick to keep the window open
Stick used to carry water

We left and Narith asked us whether we want to visit a silk weaving house? We stopped by one of the house and a girl started talking to us in English. Her English was quite good and after a while, she started to take out a bag of shawl and another bag of silk cloth. Another local also dropped by with her bag of shawl. Everyone wants to sell to us but we didnt want to buy and we left.
A local high school
Another silk weaving house

By the time we reached the jetty, the sun has not set yet. We waited for a while for the ferry to come. 2 ladies selling shawl surrounded us and we have to keep saying "No".

Maize in the background

Sun not setting yet Monks bathing along the river

On the way back to Phnom Penh, my sis saw a road side stall selling hat and we stopped for a while. She didnt bought as nothing fancy her.
Hat stall

I asked Narith which massage outlet is and he drove us to a massage shop operates by the blind. I thought it is the famous 'Seeing Hands' blind massage shop. This massage shop is also operates by the blind. The address is 10Eo, St 118, Phsar Kandal I, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh. (Next to River Star Hotel)
We choose 1 hr Khmer massage which cost US$6 ~ S$8.40. We were given blue shirt and pants to change. After changing, a blind guy and lady were assigned to us. My sis want the lady so I choose the guy. We chatted with the guy as he could speak a bit of English. He's name is Sowayy and is from Battambang while the lady's name is Heangj from Kampong Cham. It's sad to hear that he could see when he's young but he became blind when he stepped on a landmine. They worked from 8am - 12am daily. I wondered how much they earns but at least they can make a living themselves. We gave them US$1 tip each.

Massage shop

By the time we finished our massage, it's already 7.30pm. We wanted to buy more cookies from Camory cookie shop but we were not sure how far it is from the massage shop. We walked along Sisowath Quay and rely on our gut feel. Finally, we reached the shop.

Sisowath Quay at night

After we bought our cookies, we were deciding where to go for dinner and we decided on Frizz Restaurant. We asked one tuk tuk driver how much it cost and he quote us US$2. We asked a few more and everyone quoted us the same. No point asking further and we were hungry, so we took up the last one who offered us.
During the day, a tuk tuk ride within Phnom Penh city should not exceed US$1 but at night, it doubles. I wondered how much can a tuk tuk driver earns a day if he is not booked by any tourist. There were so many tuk tuk drivers waiting for passengers everywhere.
We reached Frizz restaurant which is lcoated at #67, Street 240, Phnom Penh. It was full house when we reached and we waited for about 5 min.
Frizz restaurant
Inside Frizz restaurant
All diners in the restaurant are Caucasians except us. I found that a lot of attractions we visited are mainly Caucasians, we seldom see a Asian here.
We ordered Amok US$5 ~ S$7 and Veggie Burrito US$5. The amok here is different from the one we ate the day before. Here, it is not cooked with curry spices and there is a layer of coconut at the top. The veggie burrito is crepe wrapped with tomatos and vegetables and served with sour cream.

Veggie Burrito and Amok
There were tuk tuk drivers waiting for passengers outside the restaurant. We asked one of the tuk tuk driver how much to go back to our guesthouse and he quoted US$2. We counter offer US$1 but he rejected so we settled for US$1.50 as we feel that the distance is not long after we saw the map just now. For safety reasons, spend US$2 to take a tuk tuk rather than walking along the streets here. The tuk tuk driver does not seem to know where our guesthouse is located. Other tuk tuk drivers came forward and told him where it is located as I only understand "Capitol Guesthouse" where our guesthouse is locate nearby. We were a bit afraid when the tuk tuk driver turns into a dark alley. But he turns into another lane immediately after that and we reached our guesthouse finally. Phew, we reached our guesthouse safely at 8.40pm.

>>Day 4: 12 Jan 10

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