Odd how things happen. Originally I was going to fly from Manila to Siem Reap for the express purpose of seeing Angkor Wat. Then I decided to go to Vietnam first and fly from Saigon to Siem Reap, skipping Phnom Penh (big city who needs it). Then I thought – why not take the buss and see the country side. THEN I thought ’12 hours on a bus in one sitting’ so I booked a stop in Phnom Penh.
I took the Giant ibis – that’s all I’ll say right now but DO IT. As we got deposited in the entertainment district of Phnom Penh, bags laid out in the office, I heard “do you have a hotel sir”, “do you need a tuk tuk sir”, “can I help you sir”. I am an independent old goat but I was tired and I had no idea where I was and where I was going, so I said sure. (I usually book a room ahead on Agoda so I am not in this situation but all the rooms I saw were $100.00 a night and up.} First he said “do you need Money?” I said yes, I don’t have any Cambodian Riel. He said, no riel, everyone uses dollars, I will take you to a dollar ATM. He did. Being a bit cautious I punched in 200 and out came 2 crisp current series Benjamin Franklins!
He then took me to a hotel, said it was not great, but OK and reasonably priced. Both true. I dumped my bags and said “Rocky, I am hungry, take me to a good place to eat”. He took me to a great place called “The Mekong Bar and Grill” where I was introduced to Angkor Beer and Cambodian food. Both wonderful. As he dropped me off at the hotel, he said “would you like me to take you to some places tomorrow”. YUP
Rocky took me to WAT PHNOM where the admission fee was one us dollar. A wonderful historic temple positioned perfectly for casual tourists or those in a rush. Easy to get to from the entertainment district. From there to the Cambodian Museum for Buddhist and Hindu religious artifacts. Another great Cambodian meal and off to the Presidents Palace. Have I mentioned that it is HOT and MUGGY? There is a reason it is the low tourist season. IT IS HOT. I told Rocky I had enough and needed a nap and cool down. He said great, do you like kick boxing. I do. ‘I will pick you up at 5 O’clock.
There were a total of 5 bouts, three pretty good undercard matches, a teen aged bout and then the Thai vs Cambodian main event. This was in a large venue at the TV station with a massive ring, sponsored by Red Bull. There were TV cameras and all the hub-bub of a Vegas fight except they didn’t charge to get in! It was obvious the audience was the people. No cigar smoking big shots, no diamond encrusted girl friends. No hollywood just the people that loved to watch the fight – and war drums. When the bell sounded to start the round the war drums started. The big shake the building drums that let you know there is something going on! Man was that fun.
Rocky read me – he made perfect selections, he carted me around. He took care of me. I sure am glad I was flexible in my planning so I could meet Rocky and discover Phnom Penh.
The Next morning he took me to the killing fields early so I could take my time in peace. Again spot on, and it gets its own page. The killing fields is something one should not miss.
Thank You Rocky – Rockys real name is Sin Oul – he said no westerners could pronounce it so a Canadian started calling him Rocky. Great choice.