Stories from the Road: Month March

First and foremost I have not been penning much travel stories only because we’ve been staying put in Phnom Penh, saving up for upcoming destinations. I’ve also been putting hours in work at the new place and I’m soaking it the creative vibes daily. It’s a new challenge and a good one, as I get to learn from experienced seniors. The whole office reminds me of the drama series Mad Men (if you’ve seen it, you’ll notice the 60s-70s office desks, industrial floorings etc), with modern looking people of course. The locals are casual, stylish and fun (they laugh a lot!) while the internationals are laid back. They mean business when do business, but when they take a break, they really know how to enjoy those precious moments.

We’ve also had two friends over from Malaysia (friends of Bart) who stayed for a few days touring Phnom Penh. They’re the first ones we’re hosting this year and we took them around to a few places, giving them some recommendations to tour on their own while we worked. When friends come to visit, we usually go to at least one place that we’ve all never been to before.

Where we went.

  • Koh Dach (Silk Island), Phnom Penh

Major highlights.

#Visiting Koh Dach. Most of the times when our friends come over for a visit, I would ask what they would like to experience and see in the city. This time, Ida & Harim wanted to see Koh Dach (Silk Island) which was 10 minutes away from Chroy Changvar area. We took the local ferry together with motorcycles, bicycles, cars, tuk-tuks, van even and cross the waters to the island. Our tuk-tuk driver was with us of course and he took us to the silk farm where they learned the process of making silk & feeding them with leaves from mulberry plants. The girls ended up buying silk cloths from the island for their families.

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Taking the local ferry across the Mekong River to Koh Dach on a hot day.

 

#Chinese New Year Dinner with Singapore Club. Since ALA had gotten a table at the Sokha Hotel for sponsoring the event by Singapore Club, I was invited (by Bart) to go together. I was the Malaysian girl in my traditional baju kurung at the event, celebrating Chinese New Year. I solely came for the yee sang toss (made it in time too!), the lion dance performance and the lucky draw. I almost won by the way, just missed it by 1 digit!

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Tossing the yee sang for good luck, happiness and success.

 

#Dining: Epic feeling at Bopha Phnom Penh Titanic Restaurant. Also known as the Titanic as the place resembled half a ship, overlooking the Mekong River. Located at the Riverside (just in front of the Phnom Penh Night Market), the restaurant served Khmer cuisine seafood and a view of the stunning Mekong double deck boat (which reminded me of the Titanic). [Location: Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh]. 

#Dining: Catching up with ex-colleagues at Sou Sou Soup. It’s been awhile since I met my team from the previous company and we decided to catch up over steamboat near Aeon Mall. It was also a sort of postponed farewell dinner for my last day with the team. I was impressed by the set-up of the restaurant which felt like a giant ballroom with many tables and chairs. Conveyor belts with food were lined up in rows so that each table was able to take the small plates to their table. There’s even a square metal grill pan on each table and a separate buffet spread of seafood, vegetables, meat, fruits, desserts. It was definitely money well spent as long as you’re able to eat $14++ worth of food. [Location: #144-#145, Street 290, Phnom Penh]. 

#Market hopping weekends. Yes call it the domesticated gene in me but I love hitting the markets in search of vegetables (even though I don’t eat them much), fruits, seafood and other food items. We would usually end up in 2-3 different markets because each had different items on the list. This time when we went to Central Market, we got most of the items there including cheap sweet mangoes (4 for the price of $3) and tapiocas (1kg for $2).

Colorful items can be seen at the markets, fresh ones too.

Colorful items can be seen at the markets, fresh ones too.

 

#Rooftop viewing. This was fun. We have a hotel that was recently opened, with a roof top swimming pool on the 15th floor. So I asked the reception if we’re able to eat upstairs and use the swimming pool. He said ok and quoted a fee of $5 for the usage. We went up all the way to the roof top and saw our house from the left side of the swimming pool while on the right was a view of the Royal Palace and Mekong River. There are many rooftops like this available in Phnom Penh, with most of them being a bar, a swimming pool or a restaurant.

View front from the roof top left: Vattanac Tower, Royal Palace, National Museum and our house.

View front from the roof top left: Vattanac Tower, Royal Palace, National Museum and our house.

 

#Street photography weekend. Sometimes we see the same things as we walk by the same route, everyday. This is why I love the weekends here as we tend to see and capture new things with our lens even though it’s within the same area. My favorite subject for this month are the alleys, the local culture and the transportation such as the cyclo and tuk-tuks. In the mornings there would be a row of green cyclos on our street, heading to the National Museum with tourists covering their heads from the sun and snapping photos of Phnom Penh.

#Dining: Juice boost at The Juice House. Another overlooked placed on our Street which has a large wooden table right smack in the middle of the cafe and high bar tables around it. Their menu is extensive with fresh juices, smoothies, home made ice creams even that we didn’t know what to choose. There’s also energy booster, wake-me-up and detox juice for the healthy soul. [Location: #30E0, Street 178, Phnom Penh]. 

#Dining: Feeling Japanese at Green Bowl. Udon Cafe. It’s nice to try out new restaurants and this is one which reminded me of the hip cafes that we have back home in Kuala Lumpur. Located in the posh neighborhood of BKK1 (expats area), there is a Japanese street with plenty of sushi, tepanyaki and bars that resemble the ones in Japan.  [Location: Street 288, Phnom Penh]. 

The cute interior of the Japanese Udon. Green Bowl Cafe.

The cute interior of the Green Bowl. Udon Cafe.

 

#Khmer Architecture: The Chaktomouk Theatre. The theatre is one of the designs by Vann Molyvann, a Cambodian architect well known for his basic and functional designs using green technologies, around the city. His signature ‘V’can be seen in these buildings which include the Independence Monument,  the Olympic Stadium, and the Teachers’ Training College. The design of the theatre was inspired by an unfolded hand-held fan and now houses cultural performances and government conferences.

The signature 'V'can be seen in the Chaktomouk Theatre design.

The signature ‘V’can be seen in the Chaktomouk Theatre design.

 

What a bummer and lessons. 

#Getting out of a routine. This is a major setback to me this month as I try my best to not stick to the same routine because I get so bored easily. I also have the tendency to start something half way and then stopping because of my short attention span (unless it’s something that I really like, like blogging and taking photos). Getting out of a routine doesn’t mean traveling or escaping for a short trip to somewhere. It could also be doing something new for a change.

On working abroad. 

#New found colleague-ship. Or better known as working professional relationships. Right. It takes time to blend in to the new place and so far I’ve found common interests with a few, while still figuring out the rest. The first rule of thumb in getting to know someone is to know what they like and show interest, which helps in breaking the ice.

#Offices with a view. Not mine of course but those of my Clients, overlooking the bridge and Chroy Changvar, from high above. As I mentioned earlier, tall buildings are scarce in Phnom Penh and having an office in one of two tallest building in the city gives you an amazing view of the scenes below.

View from one of the offices in Vattanac Tower.

View from one of the offices in Vattanac Tower.

 

What’s next.

A big family trip in family to a cooler location, celebrating the Khmer New Year in Cambodia with friends from Malaysia.

About Yafieda Jamil

A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.

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