I was impatient to roam this charming city... on foot.
23.08.2011 - 07.09.2011
P.S. (= Pre-Script):
I had made a mistake by regarding the river that runs alongside Sisowath Boulevard as Mekong River. It isn't actually. It's Tonle Sap River. Therefore, I'm revising my post below. In my next post, which inevitably has to be revised, too, I will add some information about Tonle Sap. Please bear with me. Thank you. :-)
Phnom Penh, September 3rd 2011
I arrived in Phnom Penh much earlier than I had expected. Yeehaaa!! I was impatient to roam this charming city... on foot.
This was my hotel, Khmeroyal Hotel. It was raining. I put on my raincoat and kept on walking with Nokia.
This is the neighborhood near my hotel. The houses look kind of cubical like the houses in Vietnam.
I thought this was a hop-on-hop-off tourist bus. But I asked a nearby tourist information centre and the staff said he knew nothing about this bus. Ah...
I like it how the streets are smooth and clean.
This, is the area across my hotel. Tonle Sap River runs alongside. Alongside the river is a long park. People of all generation and all nation seem to mingle here. Children ran up and down. Elder people walk slowly, some with a stick in one hand. Young men played... I don't know what you call it. It's a Chinese game, I think. It's like a plastic stone with feathers on top, and then the player will kick it with his foot. On the other side of the street, people enjoyed the evening dining alfresco on restaurants terraces.
Omottayori the Japanese would say, beyond expectation, Phnom Penh turned out to proof all my worries incorrect. I definitely would like to visit Phnom Penh again. Simply just sitting in a cafe with a book while watching the Tonle Sap River across would be haven.
Across the river is the Royal Palace. I think this is the backyard side part of the palace. This afternoon, on the way from The Sinh Tourist's office, my driver showed me the entrance of the palace on the other side of the street. I saw a wide crowd of tourist swarming in and out like bees. Huge tourist buses parked alongside the palace.
Every evening you can take a boat cruise for about an hour cruising Tonle Sap River. The ticket is 5 USD. They call it 'sunset cruise'. I took one the next day, but I regret I didn't take it on this day, because on this evening the sky was more fabulous. I had thought that the rain would continue until night, so I decided to take the sunset cruise the next day.
See? The sky is looking fabulous, isn't it?
I made a video of the vicinity with my Nokia cellphone, N86:
How fantastic the sky is! If I had taken the picture from the boat across, I would have been able to make better pictures. Ah... I should come to Phnom Penh again...
I hugged an electricity pole with one arm, held my camera tightly in both hands, and tried to shoot. Well... thanks to the sky for providing the colors.
As the day turned darker and I walked further away from my hotel, but still alongside the river, I found something really, really interesting. Groups of people were doing exercise!
Before I came to Phnom Penh, I had always thought that mass exercise like this is to be done in the morning. In my country, we say "Senam Pagi" which means "Morning Exercise". It was my first time in life to see people do exercise in the evening like this. This is not "Senam Pagi", but "Senam Sore" or "Evening Exercise".
The way they moved and cheered fascinated me even more. I discovered that alongside of this Tonle Sap River, there were several groups of people. There were elderly lady's group, elderly gent's group, young people's group, family group, etc. The music played also differed according to the type of the group. For example, the young people's group's music was metal music. The elder's music was like slow pop music.
I made a short video recording again with my cellphone camera, Nokia N86:
Some wear on uniforms. Some don't.
Finally, time for dinner. I forgot the name of the restaurant, the name of the menu, and also the price. All I remember -- which is actually more than that -- is that the place was comfortable, the waitress was friendly, and the food was excellent. The interior of the restaurant reminded me of "Ragusa Italian Ice Cream" in Jakarta where Mom used to treat me when I was a kid. Across the street was also a river, Ciliwung River. I bet, this style of dining is the European classical idea. Let me give you the picture: rattan chairs, wide terrace in front, and overlooking the river. Anyone who knows "Ragusa Italian Ice Cream" in Jakarta back ten twenty years ago and visits this restaurant, would definitely agree with me. Although not as much, like Vietnam, Cambodia has also been influenced by French.
Nevertheless, even in those days, Ciliwung River was nothing in comparison to the current Tonle Sap River crossing Phnom Penh.
Oh ya, the last but not the least, free and fast WiFi was available. Just beneath my table was an electricity plug where I could charge my cellphone.
Such an exciting day definitely should not end without a glass of Cambodian ice coffee. Good night, Phnom Penh! You are absolutely charming!