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An Evening by Some Means

... like culture and tradition, it's something we cannot claim ours alone.

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Phnom Penh, September 4th 2011

As mentioned on the first album of this SEA Trip by Any Means Series, "by any means" means "by any mode of transportation". Copying NatGeo Adventure, honestly. But of course nothing to compare with, I know. This evening is a story of a short trip on a small part of Phnom Penh, on a bike, on a tuk tuk, on a boat, and on foot.

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I rented a bike from a travel agency near my hotel, Firstline Travel & Tours, for 4 USD with a 24 hours time limit. Too bad I had to leave for Bangkok early the next morning. I really have to come back to Phnom Penh, to make full advantage of that 24 hours rent. Hahaha.

While waiting to be picked up to the boat pier for a sunset cruise on Tonle Sap River, having a little more than an hour, I fed my own quest of roaming the city. As I might have mentioned already, for me, when I see an interesting place, it's like seeing a pool on a hot day. I can't wait to cycle or to walk in out the streets just like can't be waiting to jump into the pool.

Cambodians, like Vietnamese, drive on the right side of the road. I had to keep that in mind. But it wasn't like in Hanoi. Thanks to that. In Hanoi, the traffic (the motorcycles, mostly) was so hectic that instead of enjoying an evening cycle, I felt like pumping my adrenaline on a boom-boom-car game. Here in Phnom Penh, I did enjoy an evening cycle.

Thanks also to the vast loooonggg Tonle Sap River. Whenever I got lost, I just simply looked for the direction to the river.

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Like the Vietnamese, Cambodians here also enjoy their evening with a meal on short stools like these. Hmmm... Cambodia is absolutely interesting. It carries the Vietnamese aura, together with the Thai and Malayan aura. It's like standing on the border of 3 countries.

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I went cycling for about 45 minutes and then returned to the travel agent by a quarter to five, as instructed. I parked my bike in front of the office. The agent arranged for a tuk-tuk to bring me to the boat pier, on their cost of course. It turned out to be quite a long way to the boat pier. I began to worry a bit that I would miss the boat.

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Ah, I didn't. The boat was still there. I showed my receipt to a man standing by the entrance. He looked at it a second and then nodded a hundred times. "Yes, yes! Inside there!"

I ran into the boat just like when I ran into the playground when I was a kid. Yeah!!

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If you are too worried about the changing of your skin color, you can just sit on the first deck and feel the breeze of Tonle Sap on your face. But if you aren't, you can go up to the second deck and embrace the Tonle Sap breeze. This is, truly Asia!

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You aren't that keen on taking pictures? No problem. Gather with family and friends, and party! As long as you don't stomp up and down, round and round the deck, don't worry about bothering other guests. There's plenty of space on this boat. Or, before partying with family on this boat, you'd like to have a quiet moment to discuss a future family a.k.a. dating? Find a spot on this boat, your privacy is guaranteed!

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Cruising the Tonle Sap River...

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Unfortunately, the sunset sky wasn't as colorful as the evening before. Well... I should be grateful it wasn't raining though.

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I'm passing my hotel again. Ah... I forgot to draw the curtains, I suddenly remembered. Can you guess which one my room is? You have seen the interior in my previous post. I paid 78 USD for 2 nights. Once again, this is absolutely not a backpacker's style, is it? My reason was the sunrise view. Being uncertain about Cambodia, I thought, while it's still dark, it would be safer to capture the moments of sunrise from my room window without having to go out. If I knew Phnom Penh was this pleasant, I would have just rented the smallest room and thus safe more budget. There was plenty of accommodation along Sisowath Boulevard.

But when I mentioned this to Mom, she commented, "Which do you think is better? You paid for an expensive room and Phnom Penh turned out to be as basic as you've expected, or you paid for an expensive room and Phnom Penh turned out to far exceed your expectation which you truly enjoyed in and out?"

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That's the veranda of the royal palace again. I don't think the royal family would gather there to enjoy the sun setting down on such a crowded Sunday like now. People covered the area like ants.

I showed a friend this picture to a friend and said it was Mekong River, because at that time I was still thinking that this is Mekong River. He commented, "No, this is an ocean."

"No, it's Mekong River."

"No. This is definitely an ocean," he replied confidently as if it were he who had traveled instead of me.

I don't blame him. If the river you know the whole life is Ciliwung River, you might not have the idea that an-ocean-like river does exist, in Asia. I didn't either, because I'm a Jakarta girl :P Furthermore, this turned out not to be Mekong River, but Tonle Sap River which is sort of the lesser Mekong River.

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This, Phnom Penh City from the other end of Tonle Sap River. I've never been there yet.

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A close up. If only the sky had been clearer.

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To this part of the city, I have never been to either.

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The boat, the river, was altogether enormous. I didn't feel it at all when my boat turned around. Like on a airplane. The next thing I realized was that the view in front of me had already changed.

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This is the other side of Tonle Sap River. It's looking more "local". It looks like a floating market there. The boats are selling goods. And by the side of the river, is the mosque. No wonder when I read the menus in restaurants, pork and non-pork was specified distinctively.

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I'm on my way back now. For a reference of the width of Tonle Sap River, you can compare with the men on the boat, and note that I myself am in the middle of the river.

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When I got off the boat, I suddenly realized that I should have put my bike on the tuk tuk, park it in front of the pier, so that I could have a transportation mode. Well... it's a long way back to the travel agent, and even to my hotel. If I just walk straight, it would be pretty tiresome. So what's that?

Ah, it's the night market. Let me see.

Ah, interesting. It's like a food court. You order your meal, and then fine a "seat" on the mat. The waiter will bring you your meal together with a basket of bottles of chilli sauce, tomato sauce, ketchup, pepper, whatsoever. Among the guests, I saw Westerners, too.

Maybe because it was a Sunday, there were many circles of guests here and there. I somehow felt touched seeing them. They looked so merry and content. I thought to myself, being happy is not a matter of material. It's really where your heart is. You can be happy without tables and chairs, not to mention napkins, spoon knife and fork order from outer side to inner side, like in high class restaurants. Just sit, bend your legs to whatever side is most comfortable, and enjoy the food. Not enough spoons? Let's use our fingers, and be merry. It's not about the interior either. It's about whom you are with. I truly admire people like these.

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However... if you have problems with knees and bones, you can choose the Vietnamese style of dining. There you go.

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There's much space for everyone. You can sit under a tent or choose alfresco. The choice is absolutely yours.

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A wide variety of meat...

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... vegetables, fruits, are ready to fill you full.

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Dessert, snack, anyone?

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The night market is not all about food. Goods and stuffs, clothes and accessories, life music... are ready to add a touch on your happy life.

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On my way back from the night market, I spotted out this hotel. "Amanjaya". That sounds to me very, very, Indonesian. But I believe it has nothing to do with Indonesia. I once heard about the king, Jayavarman who built a temple in Cambodia during the Khmer days. The word "jaya" and "aman" must have originated from a certain root of language which happened to be the same root for the word "jaya" and "aman" in Indonesian language. That's why it's ridiculous, sorry to say, if one proclaims to be a nationalist by avoiding English vocabularies. Who can guarantee that 100% of the vocabularies in a certain language comes from exactly the one root? See, an Indonesian says "aman" or "jaya, and thinks he is speaking (true) Indonesian. But a Cambodian says he built a hotel and gave it a Khmer name: Amanjaya.

Language, like culture and tradition, is something that flows along time. It's something we cannot claim ours alone.

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Fried tomato and chicken ($3) for dinner with apple juice ($2) plus free fast wi-fi. In Cambodia, or at least in Phnom Penh, it seems to be more convenient paying in USD. But the problem is, when you receive small change, you receive them in riels. So after all, you'll have to spend riels anyway.

Among China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, I conclude that Cambodia is best in English. Of course you can't expect everyone to speak English, but compared to the previous mentioned countries, I rank Cambodia number one. Worst is China, no doubt. 我不知道, 我不知道!你说什么??LOL

The host of this restaurant, Sinh Foo Guest House & Restaurant was very friendly. We chatted for awhile -- in English. He gave me tips on bargaining with a tuk tuk driver. I'm thinking of staying here on my next visit to Phnom Penh which I wish so much I can tell when.

The title on the bill of Sinh Foo Restaurantwas written in Khmer, English, and Chinese: 興福. 興福 in Chinese is pronounced "xìngfú". My first thought upon seeing this restaurant was actually "The Sinh Tourist", the travel agency based in Vietnam which I frequently used. I thought to myself, "Wow, the Sinh is also here!" But when I examined the bill, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe "sinh" in Vietnamese has the same meaning as "xìng" in Chinese. If I'm not mistaken, "nh" in Vietnamese is pronounced as "ng" in Chinese. Therefore, the pronunciation of "xìng" in Chinese and "sinh" in Vietnamese might sound the same. I've noticed several Vietnamese vocabularies that sounds Chinese and has the same meaning also, such as:

  1. căng-tin is the same as 餐厅 cāntīng;
  2. nữ is the same as 女 nǚ;
  3. nam is the same as 男 nán;
  4. chú ý is the same as 注意 zhùyì;

Now, the character 興, which is pronounced "xìng" in Chinese and written as "sinh" in this bill, does it have any connection with the word "sinh" in Vietnamese?

The meaning of 興福 in Chinese, and Japanese, is "happiness". Yes, in Japanese, same character.

Ah... I really love to travel.

Posted by automidori 18:45 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia phnom_penh tonle_sap

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