Tonle Sap River, Phnom Penh
Fondest memory: Phnom Penh lies along the Tonle Sap River and the Riverfront area is definitely popular among tourists and locals alike. A walk along the river is a great way to relax and enjoy the view, as well as observe locals living their daily lives. Many of the shops, hotels, restaurants and bars along the Tonle Sap can be more expensive than elsewhere in the city, but you can find an affordable place to stay if you’re looking for a bargain. Most of the budget travelers stay along the lake, but if you look the riverfront can be reasonable too. A walk along the Tonle Sap is a treat. Street vendors hawk their wares, families picnic along the river and we even saw a man out “walking” his pet elephant! Even if you’re not staying along the Tonle Sap it’s worth checking this area out for an evening stroll or a drink at one of the many bars along the way.
The riverside has become a city park, much as in many cities across the world. The beaten and ragged flags of communist countries still fly from flagpoles along the banks. Still, the view of the peacefully flowing rivers makes for a lovely setting for family get-togethers and heroin deals. If you can get past the stench. A stinky river, this. Rather like Savannah, Georgia. A bit putrid.
The river itself makes for an interesting, but sad, story. The Tonle Sap river flows from the Tomle Sap lake, which covers a large portion of northeast Cambodia. The lake is an essential part of the local agriculture. Every year, as the Mekong floodwaters roar down from China, the waters become so great that they cause hte Tonle Sap to reverse its flow, bringing live-giving soil and fish to the Cambodian hinterland. For many years, the reversal of the waters was celebrated as an annual thanksgiving holiday.
Recently, however, Chinese dams have reduced the flooding to nearly devestating levels, causing massive damage to Cambodia's agriculture. This merely confirms one of my deepest-held beliefs. Mess with nature to your peril. If God had meant for the Mekong (or Colorado or Columbia or Nile etc. etc. etc.) to be dammed, he would have created hundred-foot-tall beavers.
I liked sitting here in the evenings every day. I went out by myself or not, sat down and watched river of people in all moods and shapes moving here, selling something or talking. This is like center of activites here in Phnom Penh. On the large lawn families and friends would lay mats and have picnic and drink when I first visited Phnom Penh - very lively then, but the things were different next couple of years on my returns (no more mats and families on the grasses, well, prehaps they prohibited them so that grass stays nice).
Fondest memory: There is always something going on... if there is festival, women sit with white lotus flowers to sell, or caged birds which you can release if you pay (and they will be caught later), there are loads of snacks on the stalls to buy, and other men, children get close to you to sell you a drink or another kind of snack, and beggar come to ask for money. It all happens here. On the other corner of the lawn ladies come out for regular exercise. Sometimes someone go to swim in the river behind, but there can be as well lots of trash on the bank and rats will be many.
You can easily find someone local to talk to - well, most likely they approach you to practice English.
This is Phnom Penh's riverfront promenade.
When in Phnom Penh, the most happening place to be will be at Sosowath Quay, by the river. That's where most of the restaurants and pubs are, and that's by the most dust-free and cleanest street in the city!! It's a nice place to be whether in the day or in the evening (although it feels a lot safer in the day!).
Fondest memory: Having a cup of coffee by the river!
We were in siem reap last year for this festival.
I would recommened this activity; Don't stay on a bridge with too many people.
You may see the boat races from about everywhere all day long.
have a nice trip
Down by the river, I shot my baby -- Neil Young
My, that's depressingly fitting.
Phnom Penh is built upon the banks of the Tonle Sap River, at the point where it flows into the Mekong. The two rivers mingle and then separate into the Mekong and Bassac rivers as they flow out of Cambodia into the massive delta in Vietnam.
Favorite thing: Decaying French colonial buildings grace the Phnom Penh riverside. The French influence remains fairly strong in Cambodia, certainly more so than in Vietnam. Omelettes seem a popular breakfast, and baguettes are served as standard Khmer fare. Also, my French knowledge seemed kinda sorta helpful, although to be honest, English has become VERY popular in Cambodia. You'll be hard pressed not to find someone who speaks English.
Favorite thing: an early morning exploration of the west bank of the Chrouy Changvar peninsula, the finger of land at the confluence of the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers. This shot was taken as I cross the Japanese Friendship Bridge. Just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh, it's like crossing over into another world.
Favorite thing: The rivers of Phnom Penh are the focal point for much of the local life. Here's a group swimming and fishing in the Tonle Sap. In the mornings there would also be people taking a bath there.
Favorite thing: Chruoy Changvar peninsula is just a river crossing away from Phnom Penh. Along the shoreline of the peninsula where lots of boat-houses that poor people use to live there.