Getting off the plane, there was a small bit of hope that we’d catch a break from the heat, especially after jetting past the most spectacular archipelago known as Si Phan Don or 4,000 Islands, but no such luck. That wasn’t strange, we knew the odds were high that we’d continue to sweat profusely at all hours of the day. However, what was strange was the fact our alleged non-stop flight to Phnom Penh began to land much too early. Thinking that we hopped on the wrong plane, or in some ways maybe the right one if it was headed to Si Phan Don, total confusion came across our faces when we were about to land. Seriously. As we disembarked the aircraft and were told to get back on 45 minutes later, we must have asked at least three people where we were for confirmation of our whereabouts. Turns out we were in Laos! Apparently, our plane was almost like a taxi of the sky, continuing on even past Phnom Penh to other areas of SE Asia.
Arriving at our hotel was a breath of fresh air as the décor and rooms were a trio of this Boho-Village-Chic thing that we totally dug. We dropped off our things and grabbed a tuk-tuk, or motorbike taxi, and headed to the dock for an amazing cruise of the Mekong River. In fact we saw four rivers collide, called the Four Faces: Tonlè Sap, Mekong, Bassac, and the Lower Mekong. And if that wasn’t cool enough, we were the only two people who booked a tour so it was basically a private boat trip complete with amazing food, free drinks and a wonderful host. We saw floating villages, temples, locals taking the ferry back home after school/work; a day in the life of an evening in Phnom Penh punctuated with a golden sunset.
Feeling compelled to take advantage of the 100 degree heat, we decided to do a bike tour through the city and local villages. At the bike shop we met a really cool couple from Ireland, Brian and Ruth-Ann, who were celebrating their honeymoon with a 3-month tour of SE Asia. Interesting side note, Brian turned the tables on Skyler with his towering 6’ 7” frame, one of the few people who Skyler hasn’t completely dwarfed while in this part of the world. Our local guide had a great day planned for us, which featured trekking across the Islands of the Mekong on multiple ferries, watching farmers plow the fields, hanging out with cows and meeting a family who wields silk fabrics by hand. It’s crazy to think how much time and careful detail goes into the silk that’s weaved. The process takes weeks and can be had for a fraction of the price than you’d find most anywhere else. It was a thing of beauty indeed. Our bike ride back to the shop was also a part of the adventure as we weaved through traffic and across bridges that were no small feat in the unrelenting heat… even the locals were giving us the thumbs up.
Our last day brought us to the Animal Rescue Center where we got to spend some time with animals who had been rescued for one reason or another, but primarily because poachers hunt them or clueless individuals get these animals, which include but are not limited to, gibbons, monkeys, tigers and even crocodiles, as pets. Speaking of monkeys, we’re pretty sure the entire population of them joined us for our visit. Hundreds of them, uncaged and free to roam the grounds like we were, followed us throughout the day. Feeding them the bananas we’d bought upon first arriving certainly contributed to our popularity, but they were everywhere and were surprisingly harmless although admittedly it was never fully comfortable seeing them dart past us. Leah’s favorite animal was a gibbon who was actually blind, yet loved being massaged. He was such a chilled, smooth and relaxed creature Leah said that if Barry White were a gibbon, it’d be this guy. We also saw tigers up close and personal, leopards, bears, otters and even petted elk who roamed the area. We had an authentic and delicious lunch at a place where the locals set up daily to feed all the visitors then relaxed on nearby hammocks to take a beat from the heat. Leah made friends with one of the little girls and if it wasn’t for another almost four months of traveling probably would have tried to take her home with us.
Alas our day was complete as was our time in Phnom Penh, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Partly due to the fact Leah researched and planned so many great activities and also because the people were very friendly and the vibe was a lot more mellow.
Off to Siem Reap to continue our expedition of Cambodia!