We’re off again. A boat ride, night in the coastal town, then flight, providing us with 6 hours to kill in Bangkok which involved a change of airport, no hassle really with the backpacks, apart from mine already showing signs of wear. Maybe not such a bargain after all! The journey concludes with us arriving stress free in the Cambodian capital.
I had no original intention of staying in Phnom Pehn, I’d visited before, it was just the gateway to Kep, a beach resort to the south. An Egyptian friend of mine had recently purchased a resort there. The perfect base to locate a wedding venue, with loads of free advice. Now tho’ following the advice of others we’ve decided to stay in Phnom Pehn, the place that was made famous by two madmen. Pol Pot & Gary Glitter. Pol Pot’s killing fields are close by, Double G, he hid out here for a number of years in the 90s, on the run from the nonce police. I can understand that not all of you reading this blog will have heard of Gary Glitter, on the other hand all of you should know Pol Pot, if not, you should be ashamed.
Double G was a relatively famous singer in the 70s & 80s, it later turned out that he was a kiddy fiddler, soon ostracised and his music deleted off the face of the earth. Rightly so too, I just can’t understand why the same has not happened with Michael Jackson? Is it because he’s just too famous and still making money for his corporate supporters?? If the people are mad enough to turn a blind eye! What can I do? As a minimum I avoid those that still idolise him & no longer listen to his shit, weirdo!
First time I was here was in 2002, with Billy and his older brother, the maddest person I have ever met by the way. Even he looked apprehensive on the 8 hour road journey. Most of the journey was in the dark, the road seemed as if it had been recently bombed. Actually nothing had happened to it recently, apart from wear n tear. The road had been built during the Vietnam war I believe. We couldn’t understand why cars travelling at pace were on our-side of the road, heading straight for us. Now having travelled in Kazakhstan quiet extensively, I understand it. There is no side, the traffic just uses the best part of the road available. The part without pot holes. These potholes tho’ are big enough to drive a truck into! I don’t know if the condition of road to the capital is any better today? Have the holes been filled in? Your guess is as good as mine! What I do know tho’ is that the holes in the roads in Kazakhstan, they get filled in every year, during the winter, when it snows ;-).
One thing we have been told, and the reason as to why we are staying, is that the city itself “is a lot better.” Well Ladies and Gentlemen – We are about to find out.
We decide to stroll from our very opulent hotel, with its 25 feet bedroom ceilings & grand staircase towards the water front. There is a serious amount of police presence, it’s just like going to watch The City, my first love. Every road crossing there’s a vehicle check point. All sorts of officers, the riot boys, motorbikes & armoured trucks. As I remember Phnom Penh being fucking dangerous during my first visit, when gun fire was common, the hotel actually advised us not venture out back then, so the amount of law is reassuring, not so much intimidating. We later discover the heavy police presence is due to the Bon Om Touk water festival taking place in the city for the next few days. We enjoy a meal and some beers, the place is teaming with locals, a lot of singing and dancing.
We get a Tuk-Tuk back to the hotel, drive makes a detour, nice cigars & bottle of baileys, Cambo is Cheap. First night in the bag & to be honest it wasn’t that bad, not as scary as I thought it might be, and for sure not as bonkers as the first time!! KP may not agree, but I did warn her, that it’s a little bit more mad than Bangkok. Fair play the little Trojan took it all in her stride, some of the boys back home would not have been so cool, but then again they’ve only ever been as far as Pontypridd.
What will day number two bring?