As a teacher I regularly come across mischievous young rogues, with a twinkle in their eye, never far from trouble. Often these are my favourite students to teach; they make me smile, they are a challenge and they never have any airs or graces about them. Phnomn Penh reminded me of these children. It's noisy, crazy-busy and a bit scary. The first day we were there three people from our hostel were mugged, and outside the hostel rats scavenged through the piles of rubbish. It will never make it into the top 25 cities in the world, probably not even the top 100, but I absolutely loved it.
The jewel in Phnom Penh is the Royal Palace and its lavish Silver Pagoda, the floor of which is covered with five tons of gleaming silver. Inside is a life-sized solid-gold Buddha, which weighs 90kg and is adorned with 2086 diamonds! The palace is set in beautiful grounds, with exotic flowers and trees.
Phnom Penh is situated at the confluence between the Tonlé Sap and Mekong rivers, and clearly life for the locals centres around these two rivers. The riverfront of the Tonlé Sap has been rejuvenated and is home to a busy mix of bars and restaurants, the coolest of which was the Foreign Correspondents' Club. With its fantastic views and happy hour cocktails, we managed to while away a few hours pretending to be international journalists on some terribly important, top secret mission.
After a couple of days exploring (best done on the back of a moped, a lot of fun and completely safe, honest mum) we boarded the boat to Vietnam. As we motored down the Mekong we watched Phnom Penh and Cambodia disappear into the distance. Goodbye country number 3…bring on number 4!