When the bus of Mekong Express strolled around passing by Independence Monument at night, Phnom Penh shined like a golden princess. Without any fixed plan to really explore this neighboring city in my second time here, Phnom Penh patterns just emerge themselves naturally in a spontaneous path, telling the story of a strange development entity.
Cool Motorbike army
Compared to where I come from, Phnom Penh seems to be the heaven of cool motorbike hipsters. On the way to attend a casual meetup event organized by my friends, a mysterious Khmer woman in her unique suit with purple lipsticks passed by on a black motorbike, stopped at the red light and smiled at me. I was charmed just in seconds @@. That lady easy rider is just one of a cool motorbike army scattering all around this capital, maneuvering streets in a deadly dangerous yet attractive manner.
Urban Planning and the grid navigating system
Pnom Penh is fairly easy to navigate even for a person like me who has no sense of direction or never cares where the sun is. When I was on the bus from Saigon, Amrak, a new Khmer friend sitting beside already told that it would be easy to move around since nearly all signs are bilingual (Khmer- English). Not only are all signs navigation-friendly, streets are numbered in a grid system.
For an outsider, the grid layout saves a lot of time and mental energy. Whether being the legacy of French colonization or progressing work of smart urban planners, this system seem to help avoid the overwhelming chaotic scenes often encountered in neighboring cities in Asia.
Cambodia National Museum
With typical Khmer architecture, Cambodian national museum is a huge collection of Khmer history and culture from Pre-historial era to modern time in 3 layers. Yet with an impulsive, impatient personality, I could only linger there for 45 minutes before getting out with a plan to read about its history online, a plan likely to be left dusted, as promising as my ignorance about Vietnam’s history.
Banks and an emerging economy
An stupid incident with ATM card led me to an expected, heated walking tour to different banks in the city. From big international banks to local ones with a modern look, the city is full of financial entities.
What does that fact say about the economy here? Maybe it is time to read some reports and be more informed about this fast-changing neighbor.
Hip cafe culture
In its adjective-packed introduction, Lonely Planet claims that Phnom Penh has a world-class coffee culture. Well, when Lonely Planet authors have to use the word “world-class” or “one of…”, it means they have no idea what they are talking about anymore. The coffee here is just like in Vietnam, with a mix of international coffee franchise invasion and its own funky, hippy cafes being set up all around. Combined with riverside bars and pubs occupied by stylish youngsters, the drinking scene is very vibrant, with so many choices that we can be paralyzed, in a lovely way 🙂