Monday, 7 June 2010

Sensations in Phnom Penh...

Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since the French colonized Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation's center of economic activities but also its industrial, commercial, cultural, tourist and historical center.

Once known as the "Pearl of Asia", or Paris of the East, it was considered one of the loveliest of French-built cities in Indochina in the 1920s. Phnom Penh, along with Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, are a significant global and domestic tourist destinations for Cambodia.

Founded in 1434, the city is noted for its beautiful and historical architecture and attractions. There are a number of surviving French colonial buildings, such as the Royal palace, Phsar Thmei, and other French style buildings along the grand boulevards.

Situated on the banks of the Tonlé Sap, Mekong and Bassac River, Phnom Penh is home to more than 2 million of Cambodia's population of over 14 million.
It is the wealthiest and most populous city in Cambodia and is home to the country's political hub.

Second day in Phnom Penh. Okay guesthouse is comprised of a complex of corredors and rooms scattered through a 4 high floors old building tucked in a small narrow secondary street not far from the city center. It truly reflects the spirit of a backpackers guesthouse based on the services provided. If one is not too demanding and can get used to the old cold structure, the old building can actually show some charm... Downstairs, the comun area is supported by a kitchen where travellers get together and eat good local food for reasonable prices. A good way to meet people and share experiences.

Open floors

the views over the city


these signs are posted all over the city

Paolo, Miguelito and Anna (a polish lone traveller, on her way to Myanmar, who we met the night before at the guesthouse) had breakfast and went for a stroll in town. Domenico staid in bed... the lazy f**k!

One of the most enjoyable things to do is to take a walk down by the Tonle Sap river when all the local Khmers are there. There is lots going on such as eating, entertaining, praying & everyone seems to be enjoying it. A very rewarding experience. However be aware of old ugly western men sitting in park benches with young cambodian boys. Due too the great poverty felt in the country, Cambodian children (in particular, boys) are vulnerable and an easy target for sexual freaks, I call them. Be also aware of the massive Rats wandering about at night after everybody's left, feeding of the leftovers dropped by humans... The large polished boulevard is their playground!

Guess which flag..?

Heróis do Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar...

by the National Museum...

...we had a little breakaway from the hot sun for a refreshing cambodiabirinaite!

Wat Phnom is the only hill in town. Wat Phnom, or "Hill Temple," is built upon an artificial hill about 27m high. It is here that the city of Phnom Penh ("Penh's Hill") was founded in 1373. According to the Legend, the first pagoda on this site was erected in 1373 to house four statues of Buddha deposited here by the waters of the Mekong and discovered by a woman name Penh. Hence, Phnom (hill) Penh. Today, many people come here to pray for good luck and success in school exams or business affairs. When a petitioner's wish is granted, he or she returns to make the offering (such as a garland of jasmine flowers or bananas, of which the spirits are said to be especially fond) promised when the request was made.

What Phnom

we randomly found Satvinda inside the pagoda at the top...

Mum, I can explain this...

Coincidence or Divine force..?

Here I was, trying to get a decent picture beside this important symbol of buddhism. To be fair Miguelito had a different idea initially (seriously, the lion is really asking for it), but soon quit it thinking it would be too disrespectful, so he went for the decent odd photo instead.
But Paolo was not happy and insisted: 'Daiiii !!! Do it..eee ! No one is watchingeeee!'
So Miguelito did it... With all due respect... if its possible to claim!
2 seconds and it was over!

Or maybe not...
Straight after the naughty photo has been taken, Paolo was passing me the camera to where I was standing above and we dropped it from a 3meters high... Reacting quickly to catch it in the air my sunglasses slip from the shirt and followed the camera landing on the same stone ground.
The camera got a crack and a few scratches and the sunglasses got a scratch on the lenses...
I was not happy, but accepted it...

Someone was watching us afterall...
Coincidence or Divine Force..?

Miguelito, Paolo, Anna and Sat tuk-tuking!

The Russian market

City Views!

sleeping angel...

segura, mano!!!


The Khmer Empire was one of the most powerful kingdoms in SE Asia, based in what is now Cambodia and flourishing from the 9th to the 13th century. The empire, which grew out of former kingdom of Chenla, at times ruled over and/or vassalized parts of modern-day Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Malasya. The Royal Palace is a complex of buildings which are the royal abode of the Kingdom of Cambodia and is a good example of classic the country's Khmer architecture.

In the morning Miguelito and Paolo (Anna had already left us, who knows maybe 'coz we were sweating and smelling) tried to get in the Royal Palace complex but unsuccessfuly. Not allowed in on sleeveless shirts. So we got back to the guesthouse for lunch and had to return in the afternoon with 'decent' shirts. This time we had the company of Maya, a servian girl travelling with a friend, and sleeping beauty Domenico! He joined us back...

...and his first action of the day..? He snapped this humble-hard-working man's garden hose when he was watering the royal flowers! Ooops...

Here trying to put it back on... but too late! You should have stayed in bed mate...

The portuguese flag rulling over the Khmer empire... lol ;)

Mr B. could not resist to Naughty Maya!!!

At sunset...

...birds land on the warm side to absorb the last sun rays of the day

the Silver Pagoda

the 3 latino mosquesteers... and little d'Artagnan.

Gathering at the end of their working day...

a moment of tranquillity...

End of the day and we walked through this square area by the Liberation Monument where people gather for social matters. Here and once again now in Cambodia, every day people come out to the streets to exercise, play sports, dance, sing, laugh...

Deixa ver se tem ovo!
20 years ago, I learned with my Granny in the Portuguese country side how to check if a chicken is ready to lay an egg... It's all about the finger!
Granny's wisdom, you know..!

dancing to loud music

playing Cau

playing Cau

by the Liberation Monument, built in 1979, to commemorate the Vietnamese liberation of Cambodia from the ugly years of Khmer Rouge terror.

Night was falling and we made our way home to be ready for...

...a Happy Pizza!!!

A little group formed at the guesthouse went for dinner to experience one of Phnom Penh's specialities: Happy Pizza! Hmmmm... how can I put this on a soft delicate way... hmmm.. let's see... It's a pizza sprinkled with say... special herbs... MaryJane plant! got it?
And we all smiled a little more...

Introducing Hugo! early 20's, German... ...and one more member of the asian motorcycle riding club... Ouch!!! And this one didn't look good... Had to make an interruption of his trip staying a bit longer to recover from injuries at the guesthouse.

La Cosa Nostra...

Zie Germans are verrrry ztrrrong!
King Hugo I, the Resilient.
He didn't stay behind and despite the adversity joined us to the club...

...and what a Club!

'It´s been here for ages and is one of this places everybody has to visit once...' in Rough Guides

A mix of expats, backpackers, local cambodians boys (including gay boys) and beautiful cambodian girls (including ladyboys) to the sound of modern House music in Khmer-like decoration...
...and a special group.

Mixed feelings in Phnom Penh. In Phnom Penh people beg on the streets like nowhere else I had been so far. Some have no limbs (mostly legs), consequence of the landmines, and drag themselves on the floor, begging... Little children hang about on the streets selling book copies to the visitors. Children look cute and bubbly, very clever and they speak quite good english, unlike most adults but visitors are advised not buy anything off them as most are forced by adults to be on the streets making money. One night I was in a restaurant, sitting outside, having a big westernised burger and chips (try to eat rice every day for weeks in a row and you will too crave for a big fat burger and greasy chips) when a legless man on a wheelchair approached me selling books and postcards... I don't usually give money away to beggers as it will only keep them motivated to beg, but this one was making the effort of selling something in exchange for money. After some bargain I bought some of his postcards and turned around to finish my food. I grabbed my fat burger and as I open my mouth bending over the plate ready for a desperate big bite I looked over the table and, right there, standing up in front of me was a skinny hungry young woman holding her dirty cute little baby... both staring at me... Both staring at me... hungry... poor... They had been watching me buying the postcards to the handicap man earlier. Not fair... what should I do..? what is the right thing to do..? Help! 'Coz I find hard to figer out the right response. I mean... Mixed feelings... Should I deny these people who's destiny didn't let them born in a well off family like all of us (yes, all of us! if you can read this you probably have food on your plate several times a day) and feel deeply guilty inside seeing them go away with a starving baby..? Or should I give her my food in front of other tourists to relief hers and her baby's hungry knowing she will do the same to the next tourist and perhaps all her life passing it on to her baby rather then trying to find other solutions to overcome her problems such as getting a job, for a example..? But I was also aware that finding a job in Cambodia is more difficult than shaking hands with Bin Laden! But the way she and her baby were looking at me... :( Hard call...

In the mean time Maya's friend was assaulted on the streets. They where both walking on the main street, on their first night in Phnom Penh, when a motorcycle rider drove past them and cut off her bag pulling it away... Gone!
Inside was her Photo camera... Passport (Ouch!!!)... and, in mixed currencies, €3000 worth in cash... The salary of a lifetime in Cambodia...


  1. yo badman how are you doing?
    it's tim..from sapa. just saw your photos man they're well nice. brings it back. that crazy jap!! MEDIUM
    i emailed you a while back i dunno if you got it. hit me up at
    be cool to hear from you man. where are you now?
    hope all is grand. tim

  2. could you please phone pam uren asap!!!!!
    from simon

  3. Bela reportagem fotográfica e histórica da cidade. Aquela do leão só é desculpável porque se trata de uma águia sobre um leão. Abraço do pai e da mãe

  4. Sim sim as indecências com monumentos têm
    Belas fotos mesmo e história :))