I booked a ticket using Air Asia online which on first glance looks pretty cheap but once you start adding all the fees up, fuel surcharge, taxes and so on – the actual price is about twice what is quoted online. Oh well. Including the landing fee of 20 USD make things look a little less like a discount trip but better than taking the bus. On a sidenote my guess is the US dollar peg in Cambodia must be killing them right since effectively with the ongoing slide of the dollar the Cambodians are getting less then they intended. Everywhere you go when it comes to Government stuff the prices are fixed to the US dollar. This can’t be good for them.
On arrival I happened to have an old passport photo on me and used that along with my crisp 100 bill to pay for my 20 tourist visa. This is similar to Indonesia where you pay 20 USD on arrival for a visa. Frankly I think it is a little rich but given it is mostly real-world tourists going to these places I am sure it is no big deal. The guy did not like my 100 bill and asked for change but I stood my ground. I needed some smaller bills and this was the only way. I have to admit using some Thai baht to buy US dollars at the BKK airport was mildly satisfying given how many dollars the baht buys these days.
Visa done and I grabbed my bag and headed to get a taxi. I ended up using the 2 USD motorcycle taxi option. The weather was cool and I had a small bag so it seemed more economical. Worked out fine. I was planning on heading to the Walkabout hotel since I had emailed them for a room but given they never emailed me back I asked the motorcycle guy what he thought. He said the Walkabout was too noisy and that I should stay somewhere else. For the record on Walkabout Hotel – I first emailed them to inquire about a room and I never got a reply. Then I used their contact form and got an automated reply saying they would contact me in 12 hours. No reply. So then I emailed their reply back to them to see if I could confirm a room. No reply to my reply. I also checked my spam folder. Personally I hate entities that have a website but are poor in responding to customers who use it. So while on the motorcycle I remembered a hotel from before and told the guy to take me to Billabong Hotel.
When you search for Billabong Hotel on the net it is a pain in the ass to find their site but it is http://www.thebillabonghotel.com/. I stayed at this hotel a few years back and loved it. Cambodia is just a little too dirty and chaotic at times and I like staying where I can escape it all for a bit. Billabong is just that place. Close to the center of action, walking distance to Walkabout and Shanghai Bar, but in a nice oasis of calm. A great swimming pool, awesome food, small but nice rooms and very good service. Not the cheapest place, 30+ USD a night, but that includes a great breakfast. This where I stayed this trip. The guest policy here is pretty relaxed given they assume there are 2 people to a room. My only comment would be that doing the walk of shame in the morning might be a bit much depending on the guest and who is hanging by the pool in the morning. However I don’t think it is too big of a deal.
Before I moved to Thailand I lived in Hong Kong/China for almost 4.5 years. During that time I traveled extensively all over Asia. One of the reasons I chose Bangkok is because I feel I can live here, have businesses here and can basically hit on all cylinders at once in the same city. I still feel that way so I don’t assume that I can go to a place like Phnom Penh and have a better time than I do in Bkk. I am not into looking for the cheapest booze or the cheapest girls anyway since I don’t equate cheap with the best experience. Given all this I was hoping to check out some new places, scout out some locations and relax a little bit.
Once I had finished business for the day I hit the town to see what things were like. During the day I used the cafe, Metro Cafe I think, that is adjacent to the FCC Club on the main road. They have good coffee, sandwiches and WI-FI. The WI-FI is not free but the place was comfortable and had access to power. I think the WI-FI was 2 USD an hour. I saw some other places with WI-FI but I did not check them out.
The first place I hit was Shanghai Bar on 51 street. This is the closest thing PP has to a beer bar experience as compared to Bangkok. There was some pretty girls in there and the food was okay but not amazing. I bought some ladydrinks and chatted up the girls. I was impressed with how many knew a little bit of Thai and English. Thai and Khmer can be quite similar so I was picking up some words and bantering around enough to enjoy myself. As for the girls – there was just a little too much attitude in there for me. Some expensive ST/LT quotes and a general air that they were just a little too good for people. Given that I did not find them more beautiful than the Thai girls I am used to I did not bother to barfine.
From there I cruised to 104 street. This is a small street with some similar beer bars. I stayed at Rose Bar for a bit and bought some drinks for a girl who was pretty damn hot. Unfortunately she was all business and wanted to talk money and ST. Turned me off. I was looking to hang and maybe have some hottie show me around. From there I headed off to Sharky Bar. FYI – the food looked pretty good at Rose Bar and I could see myself heading back for dinner and hanging out.
Sharky bar is a large freelancer bar and pool hall. I had been there years ago but for some reason never connected there. I had a few drinks and chatted up a cutie who turned out to be way too young. That is the other issue I have with Cambodia. I am not there to find the youngings but I notice that a lot of guys are. So when I am sitting in a place like Sharky and I look around to see the Farang couples staring at me like I am some ped and I see the other scary looking old guys trying to find the youngest piece of meat this side of the Mississippi, I lose my desire for pulling. The whole scene just feels to much a like a bad day at Soi 7 beergarden. I bailed on Sharky and went to Martinis.
Martinis is another well known freelance place that is similar to Sharky but probably even darker. It has a big outdoor area, a couple of bars and a small disco. It also has the worst pool table in SE Asia. I hear the food is okay but I did not try any. I was hoping to find some VN girls but I did not. I ended up hanging in the disco for a bit since it is a total zoo. The weird dudes, the ladyboys and the mix of girls is quite the scene. I connected with a local girl who spoke flawless Thai and used her to connect with a couple of her cute friends. Made for a better time given I could chat with them through her. Later on I took one of her friends home. A little local spinner.
Once we got back to my hotel she decided to tell me how old she was. Way too young. I gave her some motorcycle money and went to bed. My bad. Bummed but such is life. I had another night to go!