Phnom Penh, Cambodia
*Note: Sadly, for some reason, I seem to have lost the rest of my travel journal from Thailand. I am only able to find my first entry from our arrival in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. So unfortunately that's all you'll get more details on.
Yet another Daniela-Liz adventure has begun!
We started out in Phnom Penh, Cambodia ...after 43 hours(!!) of air[plane/port] travel.
The city is hot and incredibly dusty, with the primary mode of transportation the tuk-tuk: a motorbike taxi. In Phnom Penh, the motorbike pulls you in a separate cart behind it, so there is the 2-wheeled bike, and then the 2-wheeled cart where you sit. This is different from the tuk-tuks in Bangkok, where the cart is attached to the motorbike with one roof, so that it's more like a tricycle, with three wheels. Totally differently, in southern parts of Thailand, the tuk-tuks are more like side cars, where the motorbike has a cart attached next to it. Fascinating.
Surprising since it felt quite poor, Phnom Penh was a bustling city with a lot going on. We walked around the city seeing the sights and the museums, the temples and the huge clock. There were some fancier hotels and restaurants along the water, and we were in a cute area with some restaurants within walking distance of our hotel as well. Our hotel was charming, despite our receptionists being very unhelpful; Their English consisted of two sentences "Hi, how can I help you?" and "Umm.. no understand. One moment." so no matter what you replied to their first sentence greeting, you were met with the second sentence. We thought it was quite ironic given that their first sentence was "How can I help you?" and yet they were in no way prepared to actually help you.
Evidently, mid-August is wet season for southeast Asia. This means that most of southern Cambodia is underwater. The locals are well-prepared, with homes elevated with stilts and bridges, but it still looked crushing. The surrounding areas of Phnom Penh are already quite poverty-stricken, and seeing their homes and fields half underwater just added to the struggle aesthetic. You definitely could not tell which fields were meant to be crops and which were simply rice fields.
Besides being a bit underwater, the surrounding areas of Phnom Penh were full of life. We visited several incredible silk factories, where we got to make scarves using the actual looms the women use daily. It was incredible and absolutely beautiful to watch them make the scarves that are hanging for sale outside in the shop. The entire tour of the home silk factory was free and so we bought some of their scarves to help out ...and to feel like we were paying them for their time and for teaching us to use the looms!