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Sunday 26th September - Phnom Penh
By Claire
Monday, 27th September 2004 12:36

We had three plans today, four if you count the not getting up early: food of some sort at the Foreign Correspondents' Club because we'd heard it was a good place to eat; a quick trip past the French Embassy as it was the place that a load of Cambodians went for assylum and finally a stop at a shopping centre that we heard did a good range of clothes at cheap prices because we thought we could do a bit of shopping. By the time we got up it was almost time for lunch, so we took a tuk-tuk to the FCC, a lovely building on the river. The restaurant was excellent and we sat on the terrace in the shade and ate too much. There was a beautiful collonial building behind us, all battered wooden shutters and dirty plasterwork. After a long lunch we wandered down to the river for a second and then took a tuk-tuk to the French Embassy. My father suggested it would be interesting, but unfortunately we weren't allowed to stand outside it, and the guard wouldn't allow us to take a picture even when our driver pleaded (bemusedly) on our behalf. He didn't know why we wanted to be here if we weren't French and then offered to take us to the British Embassy if we wanted. We asked him to take us to the big shopping centre instead, which he did. Unfortunately, it wasn't the one we meant. It was big and shiny and full of Cambodian stores, there was not an American name in sight (except for a tiny photo of a bottle of Pepsi on one of the food stalls). The escalators seemed to be a novelty for people, who hesitated before stepping on gingerly. Mothers with small children pointed us out for the children to look at and they grinned shyly at us. It was quite funny to be a novelty! There were about twenty young men huddled round the television shop watching scantily-clad girls on a $9000 dollar television. We left without buying anything, and headed over the road to the weird-looking market. It was a large, yellow plaster dome with tiny slits for windows and long arms sticking out of the sides. It was totally surrounded with market stalls, and we squeezed through a hundred tiny passages into the big empty dome itself, which was full of stalls selling gold jewellery. Again we were met by beggars, and on the way out we were called to by hundreds of moped and tuk-tuk drivers. We asked a driver to take us to the other shopping centre, not the one over the road, and tried to pronounce the name of it. He nodded and said something else, and we said no and tried again. He finally agreed and said that he took loads of tourists there and knew where it was, and twenty minutes later we were at the Russian market from yesterday, all covered stalls and shoes and souveneirs. We walked out the other way and took another tuk-tuk back to the hotel because we wanted to try the shopping centre before it closed, and we needed the address from the guide book on the bed. We wrote down the name, the address and somewhere it was near, and the driver looked at it, nodded and drove off confidently. Within ten minutes we knew where we were - back at the market. Once again the driver offered to wait for us and take us somewhere else, and once again we were embarrassed to admit that we didn't want to spend any more time here, so we squeezed through the stalls and out the other side and hired yet another tuk-tuk to take us home. We wandered to an internet, then packed our bags and Mikey watched a film but I fell asleep. We have to be up very early in the morning to get a boat to Siem Reap.

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