Mr Man tuktuked us to the airport in plenty of time to catch our flight to Phnom Penh. Two hours to check in for a 45 minute flight. Legend has it that a woman named Penh found four images of the Buddha on the shores of the Mekong River and built a temple on the tallest hill in the area in which to keep them. The city that grew up around the hill became known as Phnom Penh or ‘Penhs Hill.’ The city sits at the confluence of four rivers: the Upper Mekong, the Lower Mekong, the Sap, and the Bassac. The Khmers call it Chatomuk, or four faces.
We had only the sketchiest outline of a plan. It kind of read something like; get settled in, reconnoiter the colonial French quarter, check out a possible Mekong River cruise, meditation session for M, avoid the very graphic torture museum but find the Killing Fields memorial and hit the National Museum. We call it winging it.
We found the Okay Boutique Hotel “with city view.”
It was okay but our view was not.
They eventually moved us to the ninth floor but couldn’t accommodate the extra two days we added just to make sure we were in compliance with the Malaysian “get lost” rules needed to renew our visas.
We decided to hit the ground running this time so after a long exploratory walk we found ourselves in the French quarter at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Cambodia featuring large photojournalist pictures on the walls and unsurpassed views across the Sap and Mekong Rivers.
Here, and really everywhere, Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge, and the horrors of genocide were just below the surface. If it can happen here to these peaceful, kind people it can happen anywhere.
Marce had once again found several highly rated vegetarian restaurants all within walking distance of our hotel but, in a major miracle, she found a tiny hole in the wall eatery serving superb authentic Ethiopian cuisine, a particular favorite of ours.
Now about that city view. A move up to the ninth floor solved the view problem and that’s the Mekong River off in the distance. The Royal Palace is on the right. Definitely better.