Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Spending the night at the riverside promenade

We heard people talking in gibberish, not far from us we saw a group of people sitting on the grass sharing a hot pot of porridge. A group of young couple were giggling over something and children running around here and there. I shifted my glance on the left and saw a long line of vendors selling all sorts of food. For awhile I thought I was just strolling along the walks of Bay Walk in Roxas Boulevard but alas, I was at the Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh's main riverside boulevard.

From the Central Market, we rode the moto taxi all the way to the the riverside promenade to spend the rest of the night. Taking this mode of transportation was perhaps the most thrilling and pulsating ride we’ve had since we've set foot in Cambodia. The moto driver started maneuvering and overtaking in between cars fellow motos amidst the unforgiving traffic of Phnom Penh at night. It took us roughly around 10-15 minutes to get there.

It was fun riding in it but once is enough. I can’t afford to have another muscle cramps and arse pain again. With the three of us riding in the moto (driver, Oki and me) it’s hard to move around especially when the driver starts to swerve around those gridlocks.

gate of the Royal Palace

This is the well lighted front gate of the Royal Palace.

lampposts

In almost every corner of the street, they have these beautiful lampposts, which hardly illuminate the streets but they look good anyway.

We decide to explore the place. We've arranged a separate day tour in Sisowath Quay but we’ve read somewhere that the riverfront looks really different at night with all those beautiful lights so we decided to stroll a little bit more and wind away the time. Everything looked newly built in there. Thailand and its Grand Palace came to my mind, but I honestly think that Cambodia's Royal Palace looks more handsome.

They have these melancholic lampposts that brighten the streets so languidly that I felt like I was one of those dejected heroines in a movie longing for her lost lover. But then again, this is Cambodia and there's no way I would ever feel melancholic with all those people rushing in from every dark corner.

at the Royal Palace

The shimmering Royal Palace at night with King Norodom Sihanouk's photo. Just like in Thailand, we saw a lot of his photos and that of the queen around Phnom Penh.

Not far away from the riverfront is the Royal Palace which glistens in all its glory under the bleak of night. It's like an oasis amidst a vast barren desert. It looks really great at night. There are also waiting sheds that are ornately festooned with lights and stunning decorations. Very festive!

waiting shed

A beautiful pagoda which serves as waiting shed.


Some of Phnom Penh's most important cultural sites are parked along the picturesque riverfront overlooking the Chaktomuk which is the confluence point of three rivers, Tonle Sap, Mekong, and Bassac. At the front are dozens of pubs, restaurants and shops wherein most tourists hang out. I would have love to take shots of those moving ferry boats but I don't have a tripod. There are portions that are really dark that even the light on the lampost was not enough to get a decent shot. It doesn't help that my hands are naturally feeble. Brrr!

fishball vendor

Fishball and duck egg vendor.


Toe told us that Cambodians like to hang out here. It’s like their own version of Rizal Park, wherein people can stay there doing mostly nothing. I reckoned that well, since there are not much of malls here in Cambodia unlike in the Philippines, I guess it's bur natural to hangout here. Otherwise, where else would these people go, right? Filipinos love to hangout inside the mall, a good way to chill out the heat and pollution of Manila.

balut vendor

Counting her hard earned money. I was taking a couple of her shots while Oki and this Cambodian guy were talking about the Philippines.


Cambodian guy

This is the Cambodian guy that Oki met at the riverfront while buying balut. I had to take a snapshot of him. Yeba!


Like in any other usual circumstance, we met some friendly Cambodians who seem to enjoy exchanging small talks with us. This time it's a young, tall Cambodian guy. While buying herself a balut, the guy asked Oki where she is from. His opening line was: "You have a very sweet voice!" to which I could not resist from laughing. Sweet daw oh! Upon knowing that we just came from Siem Reap, he mentioned that he used to be a tourist guide there, which explains a lot why he can converse greatly in English.

balut?

Oki wanted to try pong pea phon, Cambodian's version of balut (fertilized duck egg). I thought that this is only famous in the Philippines, little did I know that this is also an important delicacy in Cambodia and in Vietnam (hot vit lon). Here in Sisowath Quay, the vendor serves it with basil leaves, salt with chili, and a slice of lemon. They really like to garnish their food here. Sosyal ha! I asked Oki how does their balut taste like and she just gave me a shrug, "Same same!"


peanut vendor

I tried boiled peanuts. I am really a no-adventure type when it comes to tasting exotic food. I could only eat that much. My imagination is too wild and vivid for my own convenience. A glass full of peanuts is sold for 1,000 riel. The peanut I bought is not that good. How do you say labsak in English? Soggy? That's it. The peanut is soggy.


mang vendor

Cambodian mangoes! Our favorite. We've been eating it like a snack since we got to Cambodia. It's crunchy and not too sour. They serve it with salt with chili, which makes it awfully delicious. Sometimes too hot but we couldn't stop munching it.



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I will post my Christmas entry soon...

7 comments:

haggis basher said...

Again, great photo's and I like your dialogue!

Send me over one of those mango's with extra chilli!

kyels said...

Great job for the night photographs and you did not use a tripod; amazing. Though a little blurry, yet you managed to convey what you wanted to share.

(:

Actually, I wanted to try balut when I was in Pinas but I did not have the guts. I'm a wuss. I pity the chick though! Anyway, in Malaysia town folks love to eat boiled peanuts (my parents love 'em) and yes, they are soggy but nice --- in a way.

Lovin' the photos ate.

Toe said...

Hey, you were lucky. I think it was the King-Father's birthday when you were here... that's why the Royal palace was lit up at night. It's usually quite dark during ordinary days. Wow, you tried the balut here ha? And favorite nyo pala yung mangoes dito. :)

But best of all, you actually took the moto! Naku, papagalitan ko kayo. :) Seriously, it's too dangerous.

It's really great you really got into Phnom Penh... hanging out by the riverside and eating the food there and taking pictures of Mr. Pogi. :) You and Oki really know how to travel because you really get into the locals' way of life.

pieterbie said...

Those night photos of the palace are really very good.
I'll stick to a cheese sandwich, don't really fancy fertilized eggs :-)

Tien said...

i like your very first night photo of the royal palace. in fact, i love it. mind if i save a copy of it?

anyway, what does a duck egg taste like? stupid question from me, but i never eat duck eggs before...

my gulch said...

Mike,
gracias!

kyels,
thanks for appreciating. but i do really need a tripod. just last night, i went the university to cover the annual lantern parade. almost all my shots are wasted. i was standing on a feeble ground and my hands were shaking for fear that i might fall. i saved some shots though. will try to post it. i haven't tried balut myself. so that makes us two. i don't mind being called a wuss, i just can't make myself eat it.

Toe!
ganoon ba? akala naman namin laging naka-ilaw ang Royal Palace. sabi ko nga, ang gastos naman nila dito sa kuryente. kuwela talaga yung sakay namin sa moto. tawa kami ng tawa habang gumegewang yung motor sa gitna ng trapik tapos yung mamang driver (medyo bata pa) natatawa na rin. paano namin nalaman na natatawa siya? yung shoulder nya, umaalog din kakatawa. siguro nababano na sa amin yun. nagtataka man sa kakatawa namin, wala nang magawa. medyo delikado nga kase pagmalikot ka pwede kang mahulog at gumulong-gulong sa daan tapos diretso hospital na. oha, kamusta naman yun! buti na lang itong si Oki, mahigpit ang hawak sa mamang driver, nyahaha!

peter,
cheese sandwhich you say? well, make that two! ;-)

Tien,
sure, help yourself. i can give the orig file if you like (without the irritating 'mynewgulch.blogspot.com' tag below, hehe.

duck egg? well if you compare it to chicken egg the taste is pretty much the same, only the yellow part is much yellow and much richer. don't ask me about the balut (fertilized duck egg) as i have not tasted it myself. i can't make myself eat it. my imagination runs wild. too wild. ;-)

Rey said...

The night shots are not the sharpest (which is understandable being hand-held at a slow shutter speed) but the mood is vividly conveyed. When I went to Cambodia some years ago, I wasn't into photography yet and all we had are crappy pictures taken from a friend's 1.2mpixel p&s. :). I hope I can goo back there some time in the future.

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