Cambodia day 1 : Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

After hours on the bus from Singapore to Johor Bahru to Malacca to Kuala Lumpur LCC Terminal (starting time was 5 pm Singapore the previous day), we finally arrived at Phnom Penh International Airport. My first impression of this country was: they like to collect so many US Dollars from foreigners.

The tuk tuk costed us $15 the whole day. Well that means $3 each since it was 5 of us. So if you’re travelling alone, you know how much money you’ll spend for transportation. That counted as quite expensive. Probably because we took the tuk tuk from inside the airport and it already charged $7. So lucky enough we could bargain for $15 the whole day.

This capital city of Cambodia quite overwhelmed me. You cannot expect Phnom Penh as a metropolitant city. Well, Canberra was the most quiet capital city i’ve ever been, but Phnom Penh was the most barren capital city ever. As far as the tuk tuk took us around, I could only found about 2-3 highrise buildings with no more than 15 stories high. The city skyline was averagely only as high as 3-4 storey buildings. And sensing no density at all in a capital city of  a country was quite surprising for me. The buildings were mostly mediocre, some even have the “template” design. Oh I hate those buildings. However, the gates were elaborate. The temperature was not as hot as Jakarta, it’s quite chill actually (around 25-27 Celcius) with alot of breeze. But unfortunately too many air polution. Not only from vehicle combustions, but also from the dirt of their red soil.

Even in comparison to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Phnom Penh was not an interesting city.

the busy street of Phnom Penh

the policeman

There’re not many cars in Phnom Penh’s streets, but most of them were good cars: hyundai, toyota, mercedez, 4W drive… But what’s interested me most was the gas stations. There’re so many differents brands of gas stations: Petronas, Total, Caltex, and many others.

One of the gas stations

This city is not yet developing significantly. There’re not many construction projects I saw during the city tour…

One of the few underconstruction buildings

One of the "template" buildings I hate to see

Elaborate Cambodian gate

The biggest modern building I saw

There were an international event when we got there. I don’t know what it is actually, but the tuk tuk driver told us there’s a kind of international meeting held, which had ended just the day before, attended by delegations from 52 countries.

Parade of delegations from foreign countries

We didn’t have much time in Phnom Penh. So we decided to go to two destinations only: The Royal Palace and the Central Market.

We were told that the ticket for Royal Palace was $5, but when we got there, they had had a rise: $6,25. The royal complex was huge and consisted of several beautiful buildings. I remembered the horn-like shape on the edge of the roof from the cambodian buddhist temple I visited in Melbourne.

There’re so many tourists that morning. And everyone had to manage the visiting time since the Palace closed at 11.30 am and would be reopen at around 2pm.

We spent about 2 hours or so in the royal complex before we proceeded to the Central Market. the market was a bit disaoppinting too. There’re not many unique cambodian things we could find. Most of them were general clothes, bags, household utensils, and jewelries. Don’t expect to find any food here…

Royal Palace 1

Royal Palace 2

Before going to the Royal Palace we had already booked a bus ticket to Siem Reap. It costed us $10 and it wasn’t Mekong Express. they said it’s because of the high season that everything went more expensive than it should be… Our bus left the city at 12.30 pm. So we still had time to have lunch at a Melayu Restaurant. It costed us $4 each. Thankfully it was a great buffet menu. The late Bruri Marantika songs accompanied our lunch…

The bus took off on time. So we’re gonna spend the next 6 hours on the road…

Ah, one more thing i like to say. Despite the fact that Cambodia is a Buddhist majority country, there’re so many moslems here. I could find schoolgirls and many women wearing veils so easily within the town. And their appearance told me that they were Cambodian, not Melayu. Well, who knows that their ancestors might come from Malaysia or Indonesia. But it’s quite surprising to easily see people “like” us in this foreign country.

A big mosque in Moslem village

Traditional houses in rural area


The sun had long set when we arrived at Siem Reap. The bus station was quite frighthening. Instead of going to the bus terminal, our bus came into a place surrounded by high fences. And as soon as we alighted from the bus, many men came to us. Well,  they didn’t do anything bad, but they freaked me out. Most of them were tuktuk drivers, and we got one from the bus company as they promised us a free transport to the hostel. They opened the gate when everyone had had a deal with every tuk tuk drivers…For me, that’s just not a very nice thing to do to foreigners!



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