On first arrival Phnom Penh appeared quite sleepy and quiet compared to Ho Chi Minh City. Now, granted, it could have been partly where we were staying (although we were pretty central) and partly the hour. Regardless there wasn’t the same crazy night traffic despite being back in the land of the tuk-tuk.
We arrived at our hotel around 10:30 pm and were greeted with the warmest and most welcoming smiles imaginable. In fact, The Blue Corner Hotel, which was a sweet, little boutique hotel, with beautiful, airy rooms, a fantastic pool and an over-the-top delicious buffet breakfast was probably one of our best ‘Bookings’ finds.
It didn’t seem to matter to the staff that we were rolling in at some late hour, they were so eager to help and seemed genuinely pleased to host us. They immediately helped with the luggage, were eager to ask questions and make sure we’d travelled well and they were almost desperate to make sure we had everything we needed, including our complimentary – yes, complimentary as in free – welcome drink. Though I have to say it was a bit of an odd drink with its tapioca-like bits floating around in bright blue liquid.
It was pushing 11 pm by the time we settled into our room, but seeing as we’d all snoozed on the journey we were wide awake and happy to poke around and explore what might still be open – as it turned out not much! But that was okay because the funky, modern, urban cafe/workspace, “Kenneth’s Asylum”, was open and it was right across the street from our hotel.
Not only did we enjoy a yummy late night snack/dinner but we also loved the surroundings. Super creative furnishings, where everything was constructed and made out of wooden skids and rope – the decor gave a real urban, modern feel to the high, open ceilings. The cafe also boasts a loft space where patrons can sit and conduct their work, whether it’s meetings, planning or simply using the wi-fi – very cool idea.
We had the sense that here is a city that’s up and coming, that’s rebuilding from its dark years and is crawling, well moving quicker than a crawl, out from the shadow of the past. We enjoyed this sense and immediately fell for Phnom Penh and the potential for its future.
Just to add, on our second and third nights in Phnom Penh we discovered that the city had lots to offer and lots of great energy. The waterfront boardwalk was packed with people enjoying the outdoors – including the aerobize-lovers akin to Ho Chi Minh. I hadn’t been able to get a photo of me during my aerobics class in the park, in Ho Chi Minh, so I jumped in with one taking place on the boardwalk and Tony snapped a shot!
During our wanderings we also discovered the night market and some excellent restaurants, including, yup, you guessed it, an Indian one!
a city rebuilds
from its own dark past –
bright future awaits