Dave in Thailand
Phnom Penh
- for the Cambodia TESOL (=CamTESOL) Conference, Feb 24-5 2007
Days 4-6, a bit of a tour around

So after the conference, and the Killing Fields and S-21, we figured since we were here we ought to see what else there was to see in a couple of days. There's always some stuff ....

Well, you need a ride, and we had met this guy, Mr Chon, before, and he gave us a good deal to drive us around for the day. A nice man, although the motorcycle seemed a bit unwell - but he did us good for the day. Mr Chon the tuk tuk driver
Wat Phnom Our first stop was a place called Wat Phnom, this is, according to legend or history, the place from which the city derives its name. Apparently several hundred years ago a lady named Phnom came to this place, and loved it so much she built a small shrine on the hill here ('Penh' = hill in Camobodian), and thus was the city founded. It was nothing special as such places go, but on the other hand special and unique as all such places are. You have to see a few and grok it. And probably quite a lot different than it was 500 years ago.
- and a couple of travellers from Thailand having a look - Dave and Ann in front of Wat Phnom
AFter that off to a well-known place called the Russian Market - very big and full of people, mostly locals, and lots of good deals on all kinds of stuff - i.e. 3 DVDs of all kinds of recent movies for $5US - you could have a good time dickering with them, while looking around - Ann got a lot of good cloth stuff (and finally her new running shoes), I got a wooden carving as well as the DVDs - (Ann and the shoe selling lady are grinning so big because this was the third effort at the picture - there's a short delay in the digital camera between pressing the button and the flash getting itself ready, and the first two times somebody walked through the narrow lane just as it went off..)
Ann buying shoes at Russian Market Dave buying some trinket at Russian Market
- and then on to the Royal Palace compound, most of which was closed but here is the Royal Meeting Chamber (given all the guards etc around I didn't figure it was a good time to start any rants about how I didn't believe in all this kind of stuff, but there are some philosophical issues to consider - this kind of thing is quite beautiful indeed, but how do you justify it in any kind of egalitarian society????) -
the royal palace
- in front of another shrine, this was a good model of Angkor -
model of Angkor Wat

- a couple more from the palace compound, here at a famous place called the Silver Pagoda -
getting splashed by the water from a fountain on the steps of the silver pagoda

- and a wee sitdown with someone familiar -
sitting with an old/new friend

- Ann tried to talk the guard into letting us into the forbidden areas, but no go - he seemed a decent enough sort, though -
ann with palace guard
- so we wandered back along the waterfront to the guest house - the palace is also just off the river, about a km down from the Hope and Anchor - where one of us engaged in a favored activity anytime, getting the hair done -
ann getting a hair wash
- and the other in our favorite late-afternoon-after-a-day-of-seeing-stuff activity -
dave watching the street from the balcony
- looking along the Sisowath Quay from our balcony in the late afternoon, as the park fills with people - the circle of men with the spectators were playing a game of what is called in Thailand 'ring takraw', where they simply try to keep the ball from touching the ground without using their hands, kicking it to one another around the circle. Here they were not using a rattan ball as they do in Thailand, but an object something like a badminton birdie, but longer and stronger and heavier - and (as they are in Thailand, there is a group that plays where I walk every night), they are amazingly athletic and skilful, with kicks from behind the back, side of the foot, etc.
kickball in the park along Sisowath Quay
A monk came along as we were getting breakfast one day, and stopped for a minute to practice his English, and Ann got a blessing afterwards, which gives her 'a peaceful heart' - childhood beliefs do that to you -
Ann and monk
And here I am engaging in one of my addictions, checking out books anywhere anytime - this time from some of the kids who spent their evenings wandering along the streets with their plastic carriers full of stuff - mostly photocopied versions and not real - but words are words, I figure - here I'm just checking out a map -
Dave looking at map with kid booksellers

We decided to take a daytrip to a place called Sihanoukville on the Cambodian seaside. I had read it was becoming quite well known as a beach place, and since I like beach places around here, not for sunbathing but for snorkelling around the amazing coral, I wanted a look. It was quite disappointing, overall, as the 'beachside bungalows' as advertised were actually at least a couple of hundred yards away from the beach, across a wide strip of ground that was apparently used for nothing and across a street, or back another street if those on the first street were full. And the motorcycle taxi drivers we got, who sounded good at the bus station, were evidently bound and determined that we were going to stay somewhere they would get a kickback rather than taking us anywhere I had read about in the tourist guide. Live and learn. But we had a look around, and the sunset was beautiful, and the Beer Laos by the beach with Andaman lobsters ok as the sun went down.
A couple of big lions outside of the village, in a traffic circle - the longtime leader of Cambodia, in various capacities, was Prince Sihanouk, and Sihanouk goes back to the old Sanskrit and means lion - you can find more about Prince Sihanouk here if you like. The Americans preferred a military dictator so helped stage a military coup against Sihanouk in 1970, and the rest, as they say, is history. (Sihanouk may not have been a perfect leader, but it's hard to beat the Americans for bad-for-the-people rule, as their support of brutal military dictatorships all over the world during the last 150 years makes undeniable, not to mention their devastation of Iraq the last 15 years or so, don't get me started ...)
big lions at Sihanoukville

One of the several beaches - more pictures of the victims

The sunset was beautiful, though, as they tend to be in this part of the world over the sea, and the nice lady came along soon selling the seafood snacks and the cold beer ....
sunset over a Sihanoukville Beach tray of snacks

- one of us enjoying the snacks, another not so sure about it all ...
little lobsters and beer on Sihanoukville Beach
- - and that was about all of interest or note for the day trip to Sihanoukville - we would have needed another day to take the snorkelling trip, and I would like to see how the sea link to Thailand works, so we may go back again - this time prepared for the nonbeachside beachside bungalows... and got back to Phnom Penh the next afternoon, where Ann wanted another trip to the Russian market - in front of the main entrance street of the Russion Market

- and the next morning up early enough (Ann thought there were WAY too many early mornings on the trip! (I'm not that big of a fan of them myself)) to see the sun coming up over the Tonle Sap for the last time (this trip, at any rate) -
sunrise over the Tonle Sap, leaving Phnom Penh

- and this guy coming along to say goodbye -
elephant on Sisowath Quay

- and a last look at our Hope and Anchor which we had both become quite fond of (you can see Ann with her arms crossed standing under the tree waiting for our tuk tuk, Mr Chom again -
look back at Hope and Anchor in the morning, shut down

- and the trip through the already fumy city streets to the airport - sunrise over the Tonle Sap, leaving Phnom Penh

- and the trusty old Air Asia 737-300 touching down to get us, six days after it dropped us -
Air Asia 737 coming to Phnom Penh

- somebody waving goodbye -
leaving Phnom Penh

- and about 5 hours later we're back home in Hat Yai. Time goes so freaking fast.

the other Phnom Penh pages in this little photo album are
Day 1, Arriving at Phnom Penh
Day 2, the CamTESOL conference
Day 3, the Killing Fields and S-21

Other Dave in Thailand stuff:

Wien Tien
PSU AG Fair 2004
Loy Gratong at PSU 2004
Kuching 2004
Luang Prabang page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4

this site is mostly sort of a photo album for some friends and family, but if you have stumbled across it somehow on the net and want to contact me, you can write to siamdave at yahoo dot ca