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Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Day 1

Another travel day. After breakfast in a beautiful rooftop cafe, we hopped on a bus for the six hour journey to Phnom Penh. Cambodia must be the flattest country on earth - I saw one (small) mountain the entire time. They say in the wet season the country becomes one giant puddle and I could see why. In all the towns we passed the houses were on stilts for this very reason.

Phnom Penh was crazy. Before we even stepped off the bus there were dozens of tuk-tuk drivers shouting over the top of each other, vying for our business. With our heads down we bypassed them all and walked to a guesthouse about ten minutes away. My first impressions of the city: busy, dirty, crowded, run down and I'll probably get hit by a car trying to cross the street. Like Siem Reap there were people trying to sell junk to us at every step, but it seemed more desperate here. 

After dumping our luggage in our room (which we made sure had hot water this time) we walked to Wat Phnom, the biggest in the city. It was located on a tiny mound of earth (the closest they get to a hill here) in the middle of a roundabout, surrounded by a small park full of monkeys and one elephant. It was a nice change to the chaos we had battled through on the streets.

We walked around the city searching for a restaurant for dinner, however they all appeared to be empty. We randomly found a small, open-air night market that contained a food section at one end. In the middle were dozens of colourful bamboo mats, with small bottles of condiments laid out on each. So we followed the locals: we bought relatively safe food, sat on a mat on the ground and ate our dinner. By relatively safe, I mean spring rolls, noodles and some sort of cooked bird, rather than the Cambodian delicacies of crickets, tarantulas and duck foetus. It turned out to be a good choice (the food and the location). The rest of the market mostly consisted of fake Western brands, which didn't tempt us at all.

We arrived back at our guesthouse fairly early and sat out the front of their cafe. Within minutes I noticed a gym across the road, on the second floor of a building advertising massages. I ran over and asked how much it would be to use the gym. They replied that I was supposed to buy a massage and then get the gym for free. I just wanted the gym. The price they came up with: $4. I dashed back to our room, changed and headed over to the small but well-equiped gym. For some crazy reason I presumed the room would be air-conditioned. Nope. Not even a fan. I only lasted 40 minutes on the treadmill before I had drained all the sweat from my body and had to leave. It was a relief having somewhere to run without the risk of getting lost or run over.