Phnom Penh has not been doing so well in the press lately. Lord knows I’ve had my share of complaints about living here, but my upcoming departure has made me a little nostalgic about Phnom Penh. It’s not an easy place to love but it’s been an interesting place to live. I’ll definitely be coming back, and I am hopefully optimistic to see how things change here. After the jump I’m listing in no particular order some of my favorite things about Phnom Penh.
-Architecture and Khmer Architecture tours: Phnom Penh has beautiful French colonial architecture and perhaps even more interesting is the “New Khmer Architecture” from the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s. It is well worth your time to sign up for any and all Khmer Architecture tours and find out more about these hidden gems in the city. This architecture might not be getting respect from some of the people in power and the corporations who are only looking at PP for its land value, but there is a small and passionate group of people (foreign and Khmer) who know about and appreciate Phnom Penh’s architectural history. As more people learn about this, hopefully some of these buildings can be saved.
-The National Museum: Hands down the best museum in the country and getting even better with some rumors of upcoming exhibits and updates to the existing space. And at $3 admission it’s a total bargain.
-Walking in any park or public space at dusk and watching people. Khmer people love to go to the park at dusk to relax and enjoy the cooler weather. I generally don’t like crowds of people but you really can’t beat the happy vibes of a Phnom Penh park at dusk.
PS- Whoa! There is a Flickr group of these signs! Awesome!
–The amazing friendliness that you get from people in the service industry: Yes there are always exceptions and yes there are always mistakes, but it this kind of kindness is easily taken for granted. Below: The waitstaff at La Croisette which are among some of my favorite folks in the city.
-Street vendors and the non-regulated economy: I love that people can set-up shop anywhere and sell anything. Or that if you need a new broom all you need to do is wait for someone to walk by outside your house and sell you one. Who needs a giant Wal-Mart when you have everything you need right outside your door?
Day Trips: From PP you can take easy day trips to
The shops, restaurants, and business that I’ve enjoyed visiting:
-Sher e Punjab: Perhaps the best restaurant in Phnom Penh on street 130 just off the river. Do yourself a favor and order the Paneer Makhani.
-La Croisette (mentioned above) has not bad wifi and will let you sit there for hours while you munch on their tasty food.
-The yummy dumpling place (name?) on Sihanouk next to the Coffeemaker.
-The ladies at Sunrise Booking Tours (on the riverfront near La Croisette) have been helpful in getting me bus tickets and arranging cars.
-The new Apsara Khmer “Hi-class Express” 15 person van to Siem Reap. Fast, reliable, safe, and cheaper than Mekong Express.
Have your own ideas about what makes PP great? I’m sure I’ve left things off. Feel free to add any suggestions in the comments!