Monday, December 17, 2007

To the market we go…

When we got off the bus, immediately we were huddled by a group of tuk-tuk drivers wanting to give us a ride to our hotel. Most of them are given commission by the hotel managers if they bring customers in so it’s an extra income for them aside from the fare that they’re gonna get. We told them that we already have a place to stay and showed them the address. Some of them made a murmur and named their price, “Five dolla to get you there.” said one of the drivers as an initial bid. We made a quick negative remark and motioned to leave. “Okay 3!” I am no good when it comes to haggling so I left the job to Oki. “One dollar!” she announced with full authority (as if she knows her way around Phnom Penh and no one can fool her).

Everyone seemed to settle down. Suddenly, no one wanted to give us a ride. I was trying not laugh (we’re supposed to be serious here). Oki instructed me to shut up whenever she's making a haggle so I did. A guy followed us and asked if we could make it two dollars at least. He reasoned that the place of our hotel is too far. But Oki made a firm remark and said, “No, one dollar only!” The driver scratched his head and made a turn for his tuk-tuk motioning us to ride. Here’s a funny thing, one of the tuk-tuk drivers shouted something like, “You from the Pelepens ha!” This time, I was laughing already. Nalaman siguro nilang Pinoy kami kase ang kuripot namin. Super tawad talaga, nyahaha!

spring guesthouse

Facade of the 5-storey pink and blue painted Spring Guest House located along Monivong Blvd. Neither large nor lavish, the 50 ‘brand new rooms’ are very functional for the money and come with two clean sheets. All rooms are the same size and have a bathroom, a window and a TV with 60 channels of cable (they have TFC). Room prices vary depending on whether you choose fan or air-con, and with hot/cold shower.

We booked our two-night stay at Spring Guesthouse just off Monivong Blvd, the city’s main drag. We learned that this guesthouse is not well recommended among tuk-tuk drivers because according to them, the manager here doesn’t give any tip/commission whenever they brought in customers for them. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not but we got to know this place from Canby Publications and booked our reservations online. Lonely Planet’s review is also quite okay. "One of the best budget options in Phnom Penh, with its professional management, thoughtful service and well-equipped rooms it offers real value for money,” according to the review.

at the market

We ride the tuk-tuk on our way to the Phsar Thmei (Central Market) for $1.

Our stay at the guest house was less of an okay (compared to Golden Villa with all those freebies). Nothing awful or weird thing happened except that the bathroom drain was clogged during our last day. All the staff-members in the hotel are male, which I didn’t believe at first because I had various e-mail exchanges with a person named ‘Jenny’ whom I never met. The guesthouse has a nice, spacious lobby that they used to park huge motorbikes and mountain bikes which I find utterly strange. They have Internet at the lobby but you have to pay 1000 riel/hour.

at the market2

Front of the Central Market, a unique, art-deco building which is a Phnom Penh landmark. This market was built in 1935. Before this, the area was a swamp/lake that received the runoff during the rainy season. The entrance to the market is lined with food vendors and souvenir merchants selling everything from T-shirts and postcards to silver curios and kramas.

The moment we settled our things, Oki and I immediately went over our itinerary. Our official tour would start the next day but we don’t want to waste time so we made a head way to the Phsar Thmei (this means ‘new market’ but eventually it’s more known as the ‘central market’). We hired a tuk-tuk to get us there. When we got there, the market was closing up so we just decided to hangout and look for food to eat.

squid vendor

This is the grilled squid we ate. Oishi!

We spotted this young lady grilling squids. The smell of the grilled squid immediately reached our nostrils that we looked for a spot to sit. The lady served it with cucumber and basil leaves. It was really delicious that we asked for two orders of it. There were other tourists and some locals eating with us.

Cambodian couple

These are the young, nice Cambodian couple we met while eating our grilled squid.

We met a young Cambodian couple who heard us talking in Tagalog. They immediately knew we came from the Philippines. The guy speaks good English; the young lady on the other hand, is sheepishly silent. The inquisitive Oki asked the guy how he knew we were Filipinos to which the guy answered “I am familiar with your language because I know a lot of Filipinos who work here in Cambodia." Oki and the guy talked some more. I got lost over their last exchanges of words as I was busy taking photos of the people around us.

people at the market

Some locals begging for food/money.

flowers anyone?

Flowers for delivery

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I was watching the Asian Idol last night hoping to see Mau Marcelo wins. Unfortunately, Hady, the Singaporean Idol has beaten her to it. I did send my votes, which I rarely do, still she loss. Their strategy of voting two countries in a row is I think way off the mark. It's a huge snag.

I saw the Belgian film, Ex Drummer last weekend. Based on the off beat novel by Hermann Brusselmans, Dries, a famous author is asked to play the drums for a diverse group of rockers. The band have decided that their unique selling point would be that each of them has a handicap. Singer Koen claims a speech impediment, bass player Jan has a stiff arm since childhood while guitarist Ivan is deaf. When Dries agrees to join as drummer, he decides his handicap will be that he can't play the drums. This film is both dark and haunting that it kept me awake the whole night. Koen Mortier's film is ingenious! One of the best Belgian films I've seen so far (not that I've seen a lot though, but definitely worth watching).

9 comments:

haggis basher said...

I'm sure the smell of squid attracted my attention, it would attract mine too but I'd be moving in the opposite direction to you!

kyels said...

I love squids!

The Cambodians sound like they're lovely people. I'm really having fun reading your posts because I can imagine myself being there with your photos as a guidance or point.

(:

Diong said...

Thanks for sharing this... Love this series! :-)

Mukhang sarap nung squid! :-)

my gulch said...

Mike,
this is fresh squid being grilled and not the smelly dried squid which you (so) hate. besides, they garnish it with fresh veggies (as if they matter).

Kyels,
they are lovely and friendly people. that is why i like to say that among the Asian neighbors, i really feel that Cambodians are Filipinos' Asian twin. I am sure you'll love going to Cambodia Kyels.

Diong,
oo masarap, pramis. mapili din ako sa pagkain in. unless di ko gusto ang amoy at lasa, di ko talaga papatusin.

ferdz said...

Natawa talaga ako sa first few paragraphs ng narration mo. Hahaha. I think no one can beat stern Oki on her haggling skills. Hehe.

Hmm... funky colors for the hotel huh. Room looks ok, pero nag clog nga yung drain on your last day. I'm guessing the owner here is a vietnamese. kasi the style of the building and the lobby with motorbykes? parang sa Vietnam din eh.

Glad to see a glimpse of the city here. Yan pala ang Phom Penh. Interestin. Sikat pala pinoy dyan. hehe

Toe said...

Hahaha! Nakakatawa yung kuwento niya ng pag-babarat... I can just imagine. :) Your photos are amazing as usual... some of the best Phnom Penh pictures I've seen... serious! There are plenty of Filipino teachers who teach English in Phnom Penh. I wouldn't be surprised if a Filipino taught that guy English... ewan ko kung mabuti o masamang balita 'yon. ;)

paetechie said...

ganda naman at saya ng travel.sana ako rin makarating dyan. tgal na sa wishlist ko yan

pieterbie said...

I really like the look of that young silent woman, she is pretty.
Funny: I watched Ex Drummer a few weeks ago.
Don't know if you noticed, it is completely filmed in my home town: Oostende. Herman Brusselmans is a famous novelist who lives in Gent, where my son studies. He writes a lot about sex in a vulgar way.
But he is very popular.

I purchased a copy of Million Dollar Baby from a store through eBay. Hope to find time to watch in the weekend.

I hardly ever taken photos using a tripod. I can hardly pack a tripod to work. So all my Brussels photos are taken without.

my gulch said...

Ferdz,
naku sinabi mo pa. napapakamot na nga lang sila eh. pero mag-intay ka sa Vietnam, kakatawad niya mas napamahal pa kami, nyahaha. pero minsan talaga okay kung may kasama ka na hindi nahihiyang tumawad ako kase hindi talaga epektib sa mga ganyan. malamang Vietnamese nga siguro may-ari nyan kase pataas ang extension nila. ganyan mga budget hotels sa Ho Chi Minh eh lalo na sa backpackers' area. Nagtataasan na parang mga tore tapos magkakadikit pa. oo nag-clog yung drain sa banyo pero dahil last day na namin yun, di na namin nireklamo.

Toe,
na-imagine mo ba kami? hehehe. alam mo tama yung sinabi mo dati eh, malaki pagtingin ng mga Cambodians sa mga Pinoy diyan kase halos lahat ng na-meet namin, either friend or boss/manager nila ay Pinoy. madalas din sila natututo ng English sa Pinoy. Sabi ko nga sayo pati yung ibang kanta natin kinakanta din nila eh, kaso Khmer na nga lang. na labis ko talagang kinakatuwaan kase nakakalimutan ko bigla yung orig na lyrics. pa-ungol-ungol na lang ako, mukhang engot tuloy.

tutubi,
makakapunta ka dyan! konting plano lang sa trip kase madami ding naloloko na foreigner. pero dahil kamukha natin ang mga Khmer, madaling mag-blend sa kanila. sabihan mo ko pagpunta ka para makapag-share ng mga tips, hehe. goodluck!

peter,
aha, i knew you'll find her pretty! well, she is. she doesn't talk that much but she's smiles a lot while Oki was talking to her boyfriend.

yes! I noticed. Dries, the lead guy is a writer who lives in Oostende. you were the first person i thought while watching it because you've featured the place in your blog. well, the main reason I watched it was because it's a Belgian film and i thought of a friend, Lies from Belgium and maybe tell her about it in my letter. I've only seen two Belgian films so far and that is not a lot. Not that we get a lot of Belgian films here in the Philippines but at least we get to dig in a few. If you find any Belgian film worth watching maybe you can buzz me up on that, Peter.

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