Tori needed another stamp in her passport so we decided to go to Cambodia while she was on this side of the world. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Really, over the last two years of living in Singapore we have traveled a lot and Tori hardly ever gets to go anywhere so we cooked up a mother/daughter weekend trip before she left to go back to Texas. She’s already gone now so I thought it would be good to write this post and reminisce. We had a great time and I loved having her all to myself.
For those wanting to go to Cambodia and really experience Cambodia this post might not be so helpful for you because we only had time to visit Phnom Penh and sightseeing wasn’t as much on our agenda as was spending time at an orphanage and with our friends from Texas who are working there. We didn’t see any temples. We only visited Tuol Sleng, the school that the Khmer Rouge took over for a horrific torture chamber during the genocide. And we only shopped a little at the Russian Market. But our shopping afforded me some classy “Samsnite” luggage. I’m so happy to have found this. Saying “Samsnite” just makes every part of me smile.
But our appetite for Cambodia and it’s beautiful people was definitely fulfilled during our one day that we spent at the orphanage that our home church supports, one that we supported as well for a few years until our monetary sponsorship turned towards the Daraja Children’s Choir of Africa. Although we aren’t sponsoring Hope For Cambodia Orphanage with our money, it’s ministry has always held a piece of our heart. It was so fulfilling to get to visit and play with kids and rock babies. The piece of our heart that we left at the orphanage was much bigger than when we arrived. Oddly enough, though, we took a large piece of them away with us so our heart was even bigger than before. Funny how that works, eh?
We did really enjoy riding in Tuk Tuk’s. What fun!! We were amazed at how trustworthy and loyal the drivers were and how they worked together and didn’t try to steal someone else’s customer. We hired one particular driver for a full day for $20 USD, at the recommendation of our friends since he speaks really good English, and he was always waiting and watching for us right where he said he would be.
We found Phnom Penh to be very much like Saigon but with way fewer moto’s on the roads. The traffic was still crazy but could never compete with the craziness of Saigon. Rules? Who needs rules? It’s basically a free for all and may the most confident man win. Or maybe it’s the one with the biggest car and the loudest horn.
We also loved hanging out with our friends from Texas!! Tamara and Lauren were great hosts and we even got to meet up with the Culverhouses and McCowns for dinner.
Our hotel was nice! The Pavilion. It was in a good location and near to food and boutique shopping. Walking distance for those of us used to walking in Singapore but we noticed that hardly anyone walked anywhere. They were either on a moto or in a car or tuk tuk. Tuk Tuk’s are cheap so we just rode in them wherever we needed to go.
Tori stepped on a frog on the sidewalk outside of our room, smooshed it ALL over her foot and flip flop but other than that, we had no unclean issues. Our room was very clean and the service was great. We loved that sex trafficking was absolutely not tolerated and the security there was really tight. We felt very safe which was important to be since it was just Tori and I. No visitors allowed without approval and no one can stay there under the age of 16. If/WHEN we go back with Anna, we’ll stay in their sister hotel, The Kabiki, around the corner. Same type of hotel with same policies but family friendly.
Pho 24 was really close to our hotel so we were glad we got to eat there. It was good! Just like in Vietnam. We didn’t find too many food options that were traditionally Cambodian. I ate Lok Lak which is a Cambodian beef dish but other than that, we ate Western food and Vietnamese. And a lot of ice cream to beat the heat. We were very cautious of eating uncooked foods and fresh veggies/fruits without thick skins and we brushed our teeth with bottled water.
We also drove by the house that is being built for the owner of Tiger Beer. It’s insanely huge! Guess he’s doin’ alright!! It’s right in the middle of town and such a stark contrast to how the local people live.
We really loved the vibe and the people in Cambodia. It is just amazing how far they’ve progressed after their recent horrific past. There’s still a long way to go and there are parts of it that are still very “broken” but they’re on their way. Next time we go back, if we can pull ourselves away from the orphanage, we’ll scoot over to Siem Riep, see the temples, and enjoy more of the local culture and history of Cambodia. Go there. Support tourism. There are also plenty of shops that fight against sex trafficking by hiring form sex slaves. Find those places and give them your business. You can buy a cake or cupcake from a shop called Blooms, get a $3 pedi at Daughters, have a nice cup of coffee or fruit juice and a sandwich at Jars of Clay. The list is endless. There’s a lot of good being done in Cambodia and a lot of good left to do.
Cambodia has enhanced my soul. I’ll be back.
A few boring trip details:
We flew Silk Air and have no complaints. The flight time was 1.5 hours.
PP airport was easy to navigate. When we left, there were some nice shops and a few places to eat while you wait to board.
You need $20 USD for entry visa and $25 USD for exit. Although there was no one around that asked for our $25 when we left. Not sure why but we weren’t going to go beg someone to take our money.
We had the hotel arrange transport which we would do again but if you know where you’re going and know the system and how much it should cost, a tuk tuk would be fine as long as you don’t have a lot of luggage.