My First Khmer Experience

Khmer-Thai Restaurant

Part 2 of 8

Our flight to Phnom Penh was dedicated to the books we brought along with us. Steve knew that I had to finish The Alchemist (this was a re-read) before we head back home so he gave me my time with the book during our almost two hours flight. The book is one of my favourites, so I didn’t have any difficulties squeezing it in between our solitary periods.

Although somewhat made the place feel like home (I’m guessing it was the warmth of the people, we were literally treated like royals…), we still felt like real tourists, not so lost though, when we arrived in Phnom Penh. We knew that we were all by ourselves when we found out that Steve’s SSEAYP group mate was already in Siem Reap. It was raining when we went out of the airport, so we decided to take a cab to the hotel (our hotel was suggested by the man from the transport information booth) in the city centre.

When Lucy and Bunsong, two of our dear Cambodian friends, knew about our arrival in Phnom Penh, they immediately contacted some of our co-delegates from SSEAYP who weren’t able to attend the assembly in Siem Reap and were left behind in Phnom Penh.

The cab driver spoke little English but we appreciated his effort in answering our questions and merely laughing whenever he felt like he didn’t understand anything from us. We arrived at the city centre 30 minutes later. We met some foreigners in the city who just came from Laos and had a little chat with them. We also met some locals who didn’t understand English at all. We saw them near our hotel eating some sort of flower plants. When I asked them what it was, the young boy in the family approached me and gave me the plant. I was trying to distinguish which plant it was while the whole family did a demonstration on how to eat it! It was really nice of them to accommodate strangers like us!

A few hours after checking in and roaming around the city, Sophie, and my group mate, Thyda, came knocking at our door! What a pleasant surprise! I didn’t actually expected to see Thyda (I haven’t seen her for five years!) since we were told that it was only Sophie who was in town that day.

Sophie and Thyda suggested that we’d have dinner first before going around the city at night. They brought us to the Khmer-Thai Restaurant. Another surprise was actually waiting for us when we arrived at the the restaurant – Tra was there!

We tried three different Khmer food, one of which is very similar to the Filipino food. The two others – the Khmer soup and the steamed fish, both dressed with herbs, were really superb! We had a good time catching up for the five years we haven’t seen each other.

Kang Kong (with herbs!)

Sophie drove Tra, Steve, and me around the city centre and showed us the Independent Monument, the Royal Palace, the National Museum of Art, the Wat Phnom (the centre of Phnom Pehn), and the other landmarks located in the city centre.

Later that night, Sophie and Tra brought us to Rock to try Cambodia’s most famous local beer – the Angkor! Angkor tastes very much the same as San Miguel Beer. I was very accustomed to its taste that I can’t even remember where we went after to experience some traditional Cambodian dance. But it was a great night. I couldn’t ask for more! 🙂

Click here for more photos




  1. So happy to read about your days in Phnom Penh. I am so glad you enjoyed it there. Do come back in the near future. There are many more places for you to explore. 🙂

  2. pamalfaro said

    ON MONGKOL: Yes, yes, yes! I definitely will! 🙂

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