Sunday, 15 January 2012

Fourth Day in Sihanoukville January 15th 2012

Downtown and the biggest market ever...

Transport options around here are rather limited - no local buses. So to travel any distance it's either hire a moped at $4-5 per day, get a tuk tuk ($2 for downtown), jump on a moped that's being driven by a local ($1 downtown) or walk. The downtown area doesn't look all that far, maybe half an hours walk. The road to downtown is well kept and wide, wide enough for the locals to pass by safely. From the top of Victory Hill the road drops down, rises over another hill and on into the town. It's a picturesque walk, the mountain on the left, habitations nestled at the base. Dusty lanes with ramshackle dwellings along with strewn garbage as downtown comes into view from the second hill top.

A marked increase in traffic as some major junctions intersect - although how they manage to negotiate these without incident is quite impressive as no one stops for a red light! For a developing country, the main streets and most buildings are in surprisingly good order. Side streets however are somewhat less attractive, quite dirty with garbage and the whiff of a dead fish every so often. A good shopping experience on the wide boulevard through town much like any other British town, with travel agents, banks, ATMs and supermarkets much like a British Tesco Express, modern and air conditioned. This is quite obviously an up and coming town where the emerging middle classes are discovering the joys of consumerism.

The market (Phsar Leu) is sign posted off to the left along a side road about 300 yards. That must be it, a bright blue warehouse type building , a narrow entrance cluttered with hundreds of mopeds. It's huge and it's hot! fruit and vegetables as far as the eye can see. The place is a maze of narrow alleyways, each row bustling with locals and one or two tourists. Wall to wall food being cooked, plenty of variety - more so than of late on Victory Hill. This is too good to pass by. Each stall is busy, there is a good turnover and they cook in full view of customers. A plate of fried noodles with vegetables and ginger then rice balls in a coconut soup - delicious. This market is too big and I'm hot and tired. Better start walking back to base - it's easily 35-40 minutes, however I shall stop for coffee along the way - that could take an hour maybe two, soaking up the local atmosphere.

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