Nailing Phnom Penh

Our three days in Phnom Penh were spent in a whirlwind of activity. On Saturday we were up at 0500hrs to cycle 45km to see FFI’s Siamese crocodile breeding program at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre. See our separate webpage for this report. The ginger stuffed barbeque frogs on the way back got me through the hideous bumpy, dusty, pothole ridden road into the city. Luckily the hostel’s pool dealt wonderfully with frayed nerves and hot bodies that evening! Extremely tired we only made it 20m to the end of the road for dinnner that night.
On Sunday we went and visited Wat Phnom before meeting Joey Rose, the FFI intern, for breakfast and more croc chat. Wat Phnom is the primary temple in the city and was erected in 1373 to house four statues of Buddha deposited there by the Mekong and discovered by a lady named Penh – hence the city’s name. It’s built on the only hill in the city set within beautiful grounds.

We moved in with warmshowers host, Bethy, that evening after doing some much needed admin to get our schedule worked out for the coming week and alert people to our imminent arrival! Bethy took us to a lovely roof top bar for a drink that evening with all of Phnom Penh spread below. This was followed by the Cambodian classic Amok curry.
On Monday we spent a fabulous morning at the Royal University of Phnom Penh meeting current and past students of the conservation MSc course and being shown round their herbarium and zoological collections. See separate web page for our full report. After lunch we had a panicky couple of hours trying to get a sleeper bus ticket to Siem Reap for that night in order to make our meeting with Mike at the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) the following morning. All buses were fully booked due to the national water festival. A number of ticket booths later and Gold VIP bus came up trumps with a couple of cancelled seats.

I then fitted in a harrowing trip to S-21 Genocide museum while Lucy sourced the all important sim card. Rush hour traffic saw us, with our warm shower host Bethy, wiggling our way by bike back up to Wat Phnom to find the city’s only flying fox roost in a tree to the east of the temple. Sadly we got there after dark which hampered photos some what although we could see them flitting across the moon! However, even before you saw or smelt the tree you could hear the bats, which above 6 lanes of traffic is no mean feat. We’ve scheduled in another attempt at a pre sunset visit on our return to Phnom Penh.
Shower, dinner – delicious fresh made jiao zi and noodles-and we were at the bus stop by nine. The bus being delayed somewhat Lucy wandered into the night market and came back bearing foot long j shaped corn puffs into which ice cream had been pumped! The perfect end to a busy, busy day.

The bus arrived and we crawled onto our small, plastic “double bed” Lucy’s nose millimeters from the roof and my legs hanging off the side….. we must have slept as six hours passed fast although I soon learnt to cling tightly to the bed rail in order not to be catapulted out as we hit potholes at top speed!
X Tash and Lucy


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