Day 8: To Pnomh Penh: a real city commute

To Pnomh Penh by bus

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Distance: 5km

Total: 438.4km

Cambodian FOD: Cambodia is consistently listed as one of the most corrupt governments in the world.

Everyday Randomness: Chinese tourist spending the 5 hour bus journey watching videos of Britain’s Got Talent.

The 320km or so from Siem Reap to Pnomh Penh would have been more of the same and is a very busy road so we decided that taking the bus was the sensible option.

The bus wasn’t until midday so after breakfast we went to the market to get Liam a new t-shirt as we had lost one of his along the way! His new one is rows of bicycles with “Cambodia” written on the bottom, simplistic and classy. I’m quite jealous of it!!

We stumbled upon the market we had tried to find last night and had a delicious early lunch for $2 dollars each!

The bus company we choose to go with were Giant Ibis as they had WiFi and looked like a very professional operation which is important when bikes are involved. The tickets were $15 dollars per person and we paid $5 for each bike. The pick up location is behind the Angkor National museum which is different from the other operators. The bus was incredibly comfortable and the whole journey was very smooth. 

When we arrived in we started loading up the bags into the bikes while being asked if we were German. Then, when I pointed to the flag the next guess was Italy which is more forgivable finally they made it to Ireland! It was then that we realised we had no bike helmets, i.e. that we had left them on the bus. We got the guide to ring the bus driver to tell him to stop and we raced the 500m to get them! All in a day’s work.

As we cycled through PP today to get to the hostel it struck me that the rules of the road here are the purest implementation of communist thinking; every vehicle is equal. No one gets special priority. Everyone has to fight for their own space on the road. Motorbikes don’t care if the car is a Toyota starlet or a Lexus, they’re still going to get past you using that almost invisible (to westerns anyway) gap!

Horns are used informatively here. They don’t blow their horns out of frustration but more as a way of indicating that they are coming up behind you. In fact, I see virtually no sense of frustration on the roads here even in heavy traffic. No one has a go at you for driving the wrong way or pulling out without looking; these things are just expected and dealt with.

Cycling in Dublin on the quays is good practice for here in terms of the variety and quantity of vehicles but I much prefer the logic and awareness that exists here than the angry, unaware and dangerous driving that goes on at home! 

The Aura Thematic hostel is a fantastic place to stay, very clean and great staff. We stayed in a double bed bunk for $12. They have a cool rooftop bar which serves good breakfast in the morning but does lack a tad bit of atmosphere at night. This may be due to Angor costing $2 dollars which is twice the price that you would typically pay! 

For dinner we strolled to a restaurant that makes its own noodles in front of you. It’s a bit of a mesmerising event and impossible to explain. It does look like one gets quite a good aerobic exercise session done in the process!

The noodles themselves were delicious, almost creamy! The dish was filling, tasty (I can’t quite describe it) and good value.

We walked on the in search of a bit of craic for the evening, and headed to hostel 88 which was supposed to be lovely but was pretty dead besides 4 people. The rooftop bar was very cool, lots of comfortable seating, and pool tables. We had a game and a couple of Angor beers before departing. On our way back we walked past the “Good Times Hostel” which was bopping as it had an open mic night so we told ourselves​ we head there tomorrow night!

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