Monday, 27 June 2016

321 ADVENTURE THRU THAILAND, LAOS AND CAMBODIA (4-16 January 2016), Day 12 - All is well in Phnom Penh

'GREEN' garbage collection
The morning after...Pubs along Indochine 2
The girls and the party goers have left the streets by morning.
Cambodians have a passion for pork!

Vt and Claudine's first breakfast of the day was Char Siew rice introduced by Alvin. Situated at a corner shop by the side streets of Indocine 2, it is a typical Cambodian dish ..... lots of carbo with very few pieces of meat! Not satisfied, they walked back up the street and chanced upon a noodle shop doing brisk business. With lots of fingers pointing, hand gestures and some smattering Mandarin, they managed to order a bowl of pork noodle with prawns and a disappointing mee pok kosong ... meatless!!!

Char Siew rice
Pork noodle with prawns
Mee pok and a very good Cambodian coffee ... Kawww!!!
The noodle shop situated on the side street of Indochine 2
Returning to Indochine 2, they met KC at the cafe next door. They sat down with him for their third breakfast of the day! It was a simple breakfast of toast and eggs with coffee or tea, compliments from the hotel! Earlier, the Australian contingent were spotted at the corner table on the side walk. Later, the group left with KC for a tour of Tuol Sleng Genocide museum.

Tuol Sleng is situated on the former Chao Ponhea Yat High School. It was renamed as "Security Prison 21" (S-21) by the Khmer regime. Used as a prison from its rise to power in 1975 to its fall in 1979, it is only one of the 150 execution centers of the notorious regime.

Not able to deal with the whole morbidity, VT and Claudine chose to immerse themselves in the local cultures.

This season's motif
Evening gowns at USD400 per piece
Street peddlers
Central Market
Center dome of Central Market
City living
Brisk business at pharmacies as most locals cannot afford to consult a doctor

It was only 2 days after the deadly Istanbul bombing that left 13 people dead! Police presence was noticeable in the capital city.

At noon, our odd assemblage of misfits walked through the wrought iron gates of Van's, a fine dining restaurant. Located on the former premise of Bank of Indochina, it is a good example of neo classical architecture, a past legacy of the French Protectorate. Thankfully, they did not have a strict dress code for even though Anne was best dressed amongst us, she committed fashion faux pas when she donned her strappy sandals!

Contrary to us, Celia and her medical team strutted in looking professional in their business suits and attires.

Entering the bank vault though the coffers were empty!
The beautiful staircase
Manually controlled elevators
Waiting area with its beautiful floor tiles
The bar
Classic swiveling door

Veasna came to pick us up at 3.15 pm. He brought with him a little autistic girl. Quite a precocious girl, she hardly speaks but was always hungry for hugs and attention.

We spent a little more than an hour in Cosi's own little beat up van that have seen better days. The air conditioning was almost non existent and the hot evening sun magnified by the glass windows was searing Claudine's exposed arms. Not to mention the collapsed cushions, SHOCK absorbers, etc. No, in Cambodia where bullock carts and farm vehicles are still widely used on roads, this is a "Mercedes-Benz V Class MPV"

When we finally rolled into Cosi Children's Village, we expected to see a group of children greeting us by the gate. That was not the case. The whole village was very quiet. We unloaded our bicycles, some already packed into boxes, from the accompanying pick up truck. Then, we proceeded to check out our home for the following few days.

The living area
The pantry
The ladies' room with old fashioned single unit aircon
2 toilets, 2 baths
We found out later, the afternoon session children were still in school while the morning session children were in the study block waiting for their English tuition to commence. Mr Van, the local English teacher procured from outside was late, making a detour at the pharmacy to pick up his medications for food poisoning.

Phearon and Chanty
Later, Veasna took us on a tour of COSI...

The rooms
The rooms
In the evenings, the children help out at the vegetable patch
With her notes on one hand, she is studying and farming at the same time!
Shy boy with fish farm in the background
Bonding time before dinner
Dinner time
Rice and vegetable curry, a well simple but well balanced diet
Home science teacher helping out in the kitchen. She personally sews her own clothes.
The other chef cooking for us
When dinner time came, we ate separately from the children. We were given first class treatment, served by a slew of smiling chefs, teacher and some older children from the home. Slurping up the vegetable soup specially made for us, we felt guilty but knew they were only too happy we were there. Eating more of the sweet and sour fish and the stir-fried vegetables was the only way to thank them.

The night ended with some bonding time with the children and later, amongst ourselves in our own quarters. Colin who had left his 'french cuisine' on the grass outside was more himself by night time!

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