Breakfast at The Shop
We started off with breakfast at The Shop.
The place was bustling. Clearly, it was a favourite with wealthy locals and expats. There were even what looked like breakfast meetings being held. We people watched as we ate.
cafe au lait
salt and pepper
salmon and scrambled eggs on toast
omelette with mushroom, tomato and cheese
All too soon, our meal came to end. We paid the bill of US$11.50, took one last look around and left for a stroll.
Around Sisowath Quay
We headed for the riverfront, so I could get some photos and change some money.
the morning rush hour
life on the streets
an example of the world at work
hmmm, that sense of aesthetics...
what of the Tonle Sap was visible
coconut juice, anyone?
Amanjaya Hotel - an Aman hotel... NOT!
in the midst of the bars and happy pizza joints...
reproductions are major business
behind their backs
artwork just lying around
three wise men
a Korean language school
a car wash
We returned to St 240 for HM to go for a pedicure at Bliss. Two doors away, we stopped at the boutique, Water Lily, for a look.
entrance to Water Lily
look what replaced the company van
Leaving HM at Bliss, I continued on my walk. At a second-hand bookstore, I began my book buy, my way of wrapping up a trip, with memories and more of a place.
Round the corner from the Pavilion, I chanced upon a local wedding.
the equivalent of our void deck weddings
I would have loved to pop in but wasn't sure if my presence would be welcomed, even as a well-meaning tourist.
Back in front of the Pavilion, I wandered into the grounds of Wat Botum. Inside was a hodge-podge of buildings, from the main vihear itself (which seemed locked) to quarters for the monks. I would later find out that Saloth Sar aka Pol Pot was once a novice here.
inside Wat Botum
There was even a school where classes were still in session in the late morning.
unfortunately, echoes of Tuol Sleng
The classrooms were dark, unlit by any electrical means. I peered in through the open windows, careful not to look like some kind of pervert or pedophile with a camera. Quite unexpectedly, school ended. Class by class, starting with the younger ones, the students were released. For a moment, I contemplated saying hello to the teachers, in some kind of vague attempt to establish crosscultural relations with fellow educators perhaps. I watched as the teachers locked up their classrooms. In that moment, a million thoughts raced through my mind. Could they speak English? What would I say to them anyway? "Hi, I'm a teacher too"? If only I had some gifts with me, something to give to these children, stationery perhaps. As I hesitated, a car drove up. The last of the teachers, a young woman, got into it and zoomed away. So much for that.
I returned to Bliss to wait for HM. It was a pretty space, no doubt about it.
HM eventually emerged, happy with her US$7 pedicure, even though it did not come with a foot scrub.
Lunch at Cafe Yejj
The afternoon stretched ahead of us and we opted to dedicate it to shopping. HM decided that the Russian Market warranted a last visit, particularly for its textiles. We hunted down Uncle, our friendly tuk tuk driver, and got him to drive us to the area.
To fortify ourselves, we stopped by Cafe Yejj for a quick lunch.
Round the corner from Jars of Clay, Cafe Yejj seemed Italian-inspired.
the Cambodian Daily
While we waited for our food, we availed ourselves of the reading material on hand. Nothing like reading the local rag for local insight, even if it's most likely written by expats.
ginger presse and cardamom lassi
penne with pesto
stewed aubergine (a ratatouille, really)
cheesecake with blueberries
The food was pretty yummy, good solid fare, and for just US$12.50. Before we left, we were given a Christmas present, so to speak.
We gave these to Uncle who decided to save them for his young son.
The Russian Market
It was a good thing we ate elsewhere. We still could not see ourselves eating at the market stalls. We did however buy some drinks, canned ones, yes, but served with ice...
food stall in Russian Market
We pottered around a bit, before zooming in on the textiles section where HM remembered seeing good quality cotton fabric with retro prints circa 1950s to 1970s.
textile shop in Russian Market
With a little bargaining, not a lot because we could not bring ourselves to do so in the face of such an obvious income disparity, we left with about 20 m of cloth.
The day was still young, so we adjourned to Tabitha, yet another NGO-run social enterprise, this one specialising in fabric products.
welcome to Tabitha
At first glance, the premises could have passed for a sweat shop. There were women everywhere, busy sewing away.
elves at work
quilt in the making
Tabitha may have been "proud to be Cambodian" but there was something decidedly incongruous about all these Cambodian women making quilts, Christmas tree baubles and Noah's Ark animal puppets. Of course Tabitha is a Christian-based NGO, and judging from the crowd filling up their baskets with stash for Christmas stockings, their clientele is predominantly white and Christian. Hey, even we heathens managed to buy US$70 worth of gifts for friends back home. I'd say Tabitha got its business model right.
Back at the Pavilion
We retired to our room to rest and recuperate from the day's exertions, such as they were. While HM reviewed our purchases for the day, I took the opportunity to do some birdwatching from our balcony.
my first Indian roller
yellow-vented bulbul - ok these are as common here as back home
Dinner at Ponlok Restaurant
Dinner time found us back at Sisowath Quay. On our last night, we decided to give Ponlok a shot. It looked exactly like our seafood restaurants back home in Singapore, except that all the staff members seemed to be children and teenagers!
the clientele at Ponlok
a little bit more OTT than Singaporean seafood restaurants
there are Liverpool fans everywhere
The service at Ponlok was excellent - fast and chirpy - but it was the food we enjoyed.
fried morning glory
mango salad with...
... this deepfried fish
stirfried crab with tamarind sauce
The crab was good but not as exciting as the one we had at Kep. The fish though was superfresh. For US$16, it was both cheap and good.
After dinner, we were offered a choice of dessert, which gave us a chance, finally, to try some local delicacies in a presumably safe way. We had heard that the staff offered headrubs and shoulder massages post dinner but we didn't witness any such perks being dispensed.
rice flour and glutinous rice in four different ways
With that, our last day in Phnom Penh came to an end. All that was left was for us to pack.