Sunday, January 4, 2004

A Sunday afternoon in Phnom Penh's Muslim District

Across the “Japanese Bridge” that heads out of town north to places such as Angkor Wat, there is an interesting area which is presently dominated by a monstrosity of a building whose construction has never been finished. (An "Exhibition Center" started by a minister no longer in power.)

Turning on the first road to the right after coming off the bridge will wrap you around until you are on a dirt road paralleling the Tonle Sap, directly across from Phnom Penh’s riverfront.

It seems after that after crossing the bridge, the area becomes predominantly Muslin as there are several Mosque along both the riverbank of the Tonle Sap and than the Mekong River, with many of the women wearing the traditional head-scarves. I found the people to be warm and friendly with some amazingly beautiful villas along what I discovered was called “Mekong River Road”.

Stopping this Sunday morning in a village, Jake and I had some rolls filled with some spicy vegetables primarily consisting of cucumbers and onions and some form of meat that I was unable to identify. It was actually so good that after the first bread roll filled with this delicacy, I ordered another 500 Riel roll and some Cambodian tea.

The tea although very clear and looking as if it is nothing more than clear, hot water is quite good and as I discovered long ago, is free with any meal you might have. I even remember ordering some tea as I waited to cross the Tonle Sap at the “Crab Ferry” and told I needed to pay nothing even though I hadn’t order anything.

If you continue on beyond what appears to be several “ends” of the road/path, you will eventually end up at a large ferry crossing for the Mekong River, which is right next to the river entrance of the “Headquarters of the Royal Cambodian Navy”.

Royal Cambodian Navy boatsReady for War! ...Not!

I was surprised to discover as I scanned the area that this is also right behind the Chroy Chang Va/War Taxi/Bus Station which is where all bus companies from Siem Reap will now dump you so they don’t have to pay the tax for crossing the bridge with passengers.

Very old and obviously in very poor (if operational )condition Royal Cambodian Navy River Boats. Just a bit downstream from this photo, I spotted two large shells (active) lying on the banks of the Mekong River.

If you choose to cross the Mekong River here, expect to pay 500 Riel for an individual and another 500 Riel for your motorbike as that is what the Cambodians pay.