Our little hotel pool was a perfect escape from the afternoon heat and chaos
We were chatting with Ben and Lisa from Southampton, England in a restaurant and then decided to stop out for drinks afterward. Before we knew it, it was almost 2 am!
When we were in Phnom Penh 12 years ago, it was a surprisingly low-key place with a certain undiscovered charm. It was strange to be in a national capital city with dirt roads in the center of town.
Every now and again we like to have a drink at one of those old opulent hotel bars scattered around the world. Here is our bartender at the Raffles Hotel Le Royal, who turned out some perfect Perfect Manhattans.
But today those dirt roads are gone, and some of the charm seems to have gone with them. Now it feels more sprawling, more trafficky, more chaotic. I guess those are the growing pains for a country that is thankfully seeing more prosperity. It’s still a fun, somewhat quirky place to hang out. And it still has a couple of incredibly moving sites — the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum set in the high school turned prison at the center of Pol Pot’s brutality.
We’ve also found some fun pockets of nightlife here, including a classic old colonial-style hotel bar and a surprisingly vibrant gay scene. And yes, we’ve enjoyed a fair amount of escape time by our hotel’s peaceful little salt water pool.
After three days here we are heading southwest today to a river lodge near Koh Kong, where we will be quite cut off from the world for at least three days. Yup, no Internet at all.
A fun stop at the Raffles Hotel Le Royal’s elegant colonial style Elephant Bar