simply the best
This hotel is paradise. Not far from the main shopping area this hotel offers everything you could possibly want. The pool area is phenomenal. They have live entertainment (traditional dance) at night on the stage between the waterfalls at the end of the pool. There are shops and an excellent health and beauty clinic in the hotel. They offer a range of meals in any of their resturants and lounges. The staff are very helpful and friendly I would stongly recommend this hotel.
Phnom Penh and beyond
"Ferry ride towards Phnom Penh"
The 5-hour fast ferry is an option to consider if you want to take a picturesque look at the traditional fishing villages along the Tonle Sap.
The firt 2.5 hours are quite dull and nothing happens. But after that, you will see signs of life and civilisation and very soon, lots and lots of fishermen, people and villages.
It makes for interesting pictures and the fishing people especially kids are very friendly and will wave when the ferry passes.
Most of the fishing communities are Vietnamese and then Cham Muslims. Hence you will see pagodas and mosques all along the lake.
At some parts of the Tonle Sap, it is quite narrow, sometimes as narrow as 10 metres which means the fast ferry slows down. In cool/dry season I guess, the water level must be low but still passable.
I am told that in April, it is impossible to go by ferry unless you aim to ask for trouble.
Hence the road Siem Reap to Phnom Penh on Route 6 is being slowly but dramatically improved. It takes 6 hours to travel the distance on intermittent rough road. Hopefully it would be as good as the Sihanoukville-Phnom Penh route by 2006.
It seems that the Central Market has cleaned up its act. There were very few beggars around, and most are located at the front entrance. I find there are more beggars in front of my hotel than at this market.
However there are many curious things that they still do sell. I saw a few ladies selling spiders and worms for snacking. Apparently the real live ones are brownish and a little hairy. But once cooked turn black as night. They appear to be sweeten by honey as it looked sticky. Anyway, you can get a big bagful if you are interested to try, for a dollar.
Me? The thought of putting something slightly larger than my middle finger is gross.
The Central Market is very alive at 10am but closes early by 5pm. So get there early if you want to see what's it all about.
Sisowath Quay could be a nice promenade if it wasn't so littered with rubbish here and there.
Cambodian public civicness has something to be desired about. People eat and throw their rubbish just about everywhere. And spit everywhere too; men, women and children--> all.
The Tonle River meets with the Mekong at the confluence. Opposite the quay, there appears to be a official government building being constructed. You can take the ferry across the river on go on a leisurely 1-2 hour cruise if you like by hiring a boat operator at the quay.
Along the quay, there are many Western/International restaurants for dining and bars/clubs for socialising. The quay is quite alive at night and stays open till very late. However there are no worries for transport as there are motos, motocycle carriages and taxis at every hour.
Wat Prohm is a pretty pagoda resting on top of the hill, thought to be the place where Phnom Penh was founded.
It was still early but there were already worshippers at the temple seeking help and fortune readings.
There were also a lot of beggars there and they were quite pitiful. Many were without limbs or legs. I avoided giving out to them but in the end caved in when a child carrying a baby begged pitifully for money. It's hard to say no especially if you see how poor these people really are.
There are 2 temples at the hill, one for the Cambodian Buddhist to pray and another, smaller and less interesting temple for the Chinese to pray. There is also a shrine dedicated to the Lady Penh.
The gardens surrounding the temples are quite pretty with lots of birds and monkeys. The hill is in the middle of a circus of major road. One of them is the Norodom Boulevard where many government buildings and embassies are located. You can see some examples of French-influence architecture here if you cannot make it to Battambang.
"Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda"
This is the compound of the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda where the Royal family lives in Phnom Penh.
Be there early around 8-9am because the gates close again at 11am and reopen at 2pm.
The Royal Chambers are quite elaborate and beautiful, especially with the ceiling painting and murals depicting scenes of war and religious significance.
There's a magnificent Buddha statue decked with emeralds, rubies and about 2000 diamonds.
Suprisingly the royal treasures were not well-guarded and there were only 2 attendants in waiting. They hardly look like they can protect the area.
Looking out of place is a French Pavillion built in honour of Napolean III which was the Ambassador of France to Cambodia at the time. I was told that during visits by French dignataries and officials, they would stay at this pavillion.
"Cheoung Ek Memorial - Killing Field"
This is the memorial dedicated to those killed under the regime of the Khmer Rouge (KR) during their 4-year reign.
The memorial houses the skulls of the victims excavated from the killing field. Some of the skulls appear to be broken in parts- perhaps indicating they were killed with a blunt instrument. Our guide informed us that sometimes it happens because the KR wanted to save on bullets.
The holes behind this memorial show the mass graves of the victims.It's an awful place but very serene when we are there. However there is evidence of the remains all around- bones sticking out of the mud and sand, remnants of clothes that the victims wore, the instruments that were used to torture and kill them were all there.
What was odd and out of place was this large boat what was sitting within the compound of this area. Why its there, who knows.
"Toul Sleng S21 Security Centre"
This is the main building of the Tuol Sleng a former prison and security centre under the KR and now a museum and reminder of the atrocities suffered by the Cambodians. Only 7 people survived this horror of which 2 had since then died. The most famous of these survivors Vann Nath, a painter. He is also prominently featured in many documents on the genocide of KR.
It was reported that about 10,499 people were detained and killed at this centre which does not include the 2000 children also killed here.
Tuol Sleng is divided into 4 blocks: A, B, C and D. The B and C block is the worst, for it hosts photo after photo of all the dead victims at Tuol Sleng many of whom were women and children. The identical stares of these victims is very affecting and will haunt you.
A block hosts the interrogation rooms and D block hosts the cells were the prisoners were kept and guarded. It is nothing more than brick cubicles, no bigger than 6 feet in length and 2 feet in width.
Outside 14 graves mark the last 14 people who were killed in Tuol Sleng. They grisly remains were found, tortured and mutilated in the interrogation rooms at Block A.
If you look at it, this is the saddest chapter in the history of Cambodia. The KR's 4-year reign is estimated to have cost the lives of 2 million Cambodians.
Initially those were killed were thought to be 'undesirable' and traitors against the new Maoist peasant regime. People who were doctors, lawyers, policemen, government officials were killed along with ordinary peasants, farmers and fishermen.
Later midway during the reign of KR, the regime turned on to itself and many of those tortured and killed were KR soldiers and cadres themselves including their families.
So it is possible that some of those killed at Tuol Sleng were former KR who were thought to have betrayed the cause.
Even Pol Pot known as Saloth Sar then killed his close compatriots because he believe they were conspiring against him.
Tuol Sleng is not the only security centre. There are many all over Cambodia (check out the map in Block D) and where there is a security centre, the jilling field is located nearby.
The port city of Sihanoukville is about a 4-hour bus ride at $3.50 one way or a 3-hour taxi ride at $25 from Phnom Penh.The road is smooth and journey is pleasant.
The best public beach is Occheuteal Beach, about 5 mins drive from the main town. However there are a lot of touts and people there trying to sell you everything.
The best beach I am told is at Sokha Hotel (the same hotel chain that is managing the Angkor Temples...hmm...) but is is reserved only for the guests of the hotel.
Thank goodness the sunshades are free but most people purchase drinks or food while they are there. There are many ladies going around who will sell you grilled lobsters, prawns or squids at cheap prices if you are looking for cheap seafood and this beach is crowded during weekends.
When the disastrous tsunamis struck on 26 December, Cambodia and the southwestern town of Sihanoukville were not affected at all.
In fact I was lying on the beach at the very same time when people were killed on the other side of Thailand. It makes me feel quesy and eerie thinking about it. But at the beach, it was all calm waters, hardly any wind or wave-- facing the bay of Thailand.
Hence Cambodia wasn't affected by the tsunamis at all, if you are thinking of visiting. It's a tragic event that has happened but when I was in Cambodia, it hardly made the local news at all.
It is only when I returned to Singapore, did the full impact of the tragedy hit me. So I guess, Cambodia feels like a world away from the rest of the world.
From Phnom Penh to Sihanukville
I want to visit Cambodia (Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat).
I just want to ask you about Sihanukville - is it worth to visit Sihanukville's beaches for about 2-3 days? And if you know, how long it takes to get to Sihanukville from Phnom Penh and what type of transport service is the best/faster? (can be little more expensive).
Thank you very much!
Re: From Phnom Penh to Sihanukville
I have not been there to the beach area but I know is pretty easy to get there from Phnom Penh. They have good roads built by the Japanese to the beach area.
Your can check out this useful websites :
I heard the beach there is not as good as those you get in Thailand and Malaysia.
Have fun and happy travels.
Re: Re: From Phnom Penh to Sihanukville
It only takes a couple of hours on the bus from PP to Sihanoukville. The buses leave frequently and are comfortable.
I was in Cambodia three years ago (absolutely loved it) and enjoyed Sihanoukville, but, inless you are a complete beach nut, three days is probably enough. It is, a good jumping off place, however, to go to Kampot and Kep.
I found the beaches almost deserted, even at the weekends, very clean and very pleasant.
Enjoy Cambodia, it's a wonderful place.
Re: From Phnom Penh to Sihanukville
It takes 4 hours by bus from PP to SV and cost you $3.50 one way. Smooth journey throughout the travel.
If you are in a hurry and have the budget, you can hire a taxi for $25 one way to SV or a more expensive better air-con one for $30 one way. Journey is 3 hours and unlike the bus, they do not make drop-off stops along the way.
There are no flights to SV from PP but I heard it will happen very soon.
Sure you can visit SV. It is different from the rest of Cambodia and is well-laid out and easy to travel especially if you hire a motorcycle.
Take a few days to relax, away from the humidity and heat. The best public beach is at Occheuteal while Victory Beach is more popular with backpackers because of its close proximity to the popular areas.
The best private beach is at Sokha but it is reserved for thr Sokha Hotel and their guests.