After the clean and modern Bangkok, Phnom Penh was a bit jarring. We stepped out of the airport and into a cramped, sidewalk-less mash of dilapidated French colonial and Asian architecture.
It felt a bit like rewinding time back two or three decades. There are few, if any, skyscrapers here; most buildings are under five stories tall.
The electricity grid is a scary collection of tangled spaghetti wires mixed with tree branches that strain under their weight.
There is no metro or skytrain. Although there isn’t anywhere close to as many vehicles on the roads as in Bangkok, the rudimentary infrastructure is a combination of dusty one-lane roads and dirt side streets so there is a lot of traffic. Although there are an inordinate number of Lexus sedans and SUVs on the roads, the main transport is a tuk tuk or scooter.
Where Bangkok drivers are the most polite I have ever witnessed – scooters literally bow to each other as they merge into traffic – few traffic laws are observed in Phnom Penh. That may be because there are few traffic signs. A sprinkling of traffic lights do exist at main intersections, but I have yet to see one stop sign. Left turns onto two-way streets are nail-biting experiences as drivers edge their way onto oncoming traffic, which eventually lets them make their turn. Pedestrians are on their own crossing the busy streets without instated crosswalks. It’s best to go in groups, there’s strength in numbers.
Random Things I Learned in Thailand:
The flag of the king is yellow because he was born on a Monday. Each day of the week is represented by a different color.
A bottle of water is 10 Baht, roughly 30 cents. A skewer of meat sold by a street food vendor is also 10 Baht. It is delicious.
Thai drivers drive on the left side of the road. On-ramps and off-ramps are not that common. There are breaks in the median barrier on the expressway that serve as u-turn spots. It can be frightening.
In my travels so far, the Thai people have been, hands down, the most friendly, polite, and hospitable. Even more so than the Filipinos. These folks are so decent to each other and to foreigners. They are kind, patient, helpful, and smile even more than Americans. You can’t help but fall in love with them and their culture.
Random Things I Learned in Phnom Penh:
American dollars are a widely accepted currency. It helps to have a stash of dollar bills since that’s the predominant cost of food here. Street food is $1 per sandwich.
Laundry services cost $1 per 2.2 pounds. Michael and I paid $8.50 for roughly 15 pounds of clothing, ironing included. With a four-hour turnaround time. Incredible.
Since Cambodia was colonized by the French, baguettes are a staple food here. This bread monster that is me is in heaven.