Khmer Chilli Paste

Trip Start Dec 26, 2010
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Trip End Feb 03, 2011


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Where I stayed
Lucky Ro Guesthouse

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No plans for today except to walk up north of the city and see whaere it will lead me to. Had the best fried noodles for lunch at small joint (bizarrely namely 18 Sweetness, and it was not a sleazy massage parlour) near the junction where the boulevard meets the riverfront promenade. Helping myself to the homemade khmer sambal chilli paste on the table, the combination was absolutely divine. I was almost certain that the chilli paste was unique to this stall as I found out later (actually the next day) from the boss that it was indeed a home made version.
 
Following along Sisowath Quay up north, the first stop was the french colonial styled Post Office - a photo opportunity and refuge from the sun. Around the corner from Post Office, a short street leading to Tonle Sap river had numerous bars - a mental note to return for drinks tonight. Continuing about 2 km towards the Japanese Friendship bridge, the streetscape became less touristy as the odd mechanical garages started popping up along what was largely a residential precinct.
 
Once at the bridge, the views across back to Phnom Penh city and over Tonle Sap river were brilliant although I was cautious about the pedestrian pavement being too close to the roaring traffic for comfort. Over towards the northern part of the bridge, slums laid amidst food and hotel establishments along the river. A homeless lady was scavaging fruits offered at a religious altar on this viewing platform midway of the bridge.
 
I ended up west of the bridge at a huge roundabout where a sculpture of a gun (with a tied barrel) was located. From here I made my way down Monivong Blvd back towards the city, passing the hospital precinct and a distinctively modern suburb of Phnom Penh. There were bus stops where I rested but with no signs of short haul bus services. I had my khmer massage somewhere along this road and it was disastrous. The masseur was a petite lady but her elbows digged deep into my muscles and I left with aching shoulders and calves.
 
Dinner at 18 Sweetness was superb again, made even better with the generous servings of their homemade sambal chilli paste. A middle aged Cambodian man, clearly drunk, rocked up to my table and sat himself down, taking an interest in me. He began speaking to me in Khmer language as I nodded my head. It was not a friendly tone. He obviously was not here as a patron and the next door security guard approached him, insisting that he leave the table. Both started arguing in their langauge and I was quite certain but guessing it went like this -
"Please leave the table"
("Why? Why cant I stay here? Give me a reason why I cant sit down")
"You are drunk and you are creating a scene. Please leave."
("I am Not leaving! Who the hell are you?")
 
Well, at least it looked like it went that way. After finishing his cigarette, the drunk man just staggered away without further troubles. So I did return to that street full of bars. Played pool, had some beers while the local hostesses pretended their interest on every patrons. Some were chatty, and some were just waiting to leave with their customers. It was that sort of bars.
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