We decided to change hostels as the one we were staying in wasn’t very nice and we wanted a location that was a bit closer to the town. After staying two nights in our first place we checked out and went to get a tuk tuk to our second place. This is where our tuk tuk problems continued, the driver got lost and took us on a much longer journey than needed, and then tried to charge us more money for the fact that he spent more petrol on getting lost! We did not give in!
After being satisfied that the next place was better than our original hostel, (despite being three floors high, which is a nightmare climbing with a rucksack on your front and on your back!), we headed out to explore. Our location was much better and we were really close to the riverfront and to the central market, which we spent the afternoon wandering around.
The next day we decided to head to the Phnom Tamao Zoological Park and Wildlife Rescue Centre, which was supposedly about an hour out of town. We flagged down a tuk tuk and started on our journey. After not even ten minutes we found ourselves broken down at the side of the road, with the driver trying to fix his bike. With no such luck, another passing tuk tuk pulled up to help, or to just laugh at us we were not too sure. After waiting around we were told to transfer vehicles, to the driver who had pulled up alongside us. We were a bit worried as he could not speak English but trusted that our original driver had explained to the new driver where we wanted to go.
After driving for around an hour the driver kept slowing down and we started to get the feeling that he didn’t really know where he was going. He stopped a couple of times for directions and we had no idea what was going on. He then suddenly turned around and went back the way we came, with no explanation. He was singing to and arguing with himself the whole way, we suspected that he may be a bit mentally unstable. We then ended up back where we started near our hotel, after driving around for nearly three hours, and not going anywhere near where we intended to in the first place. We were so angry, and needless to say, we did not pay him, the bastard.
After wasting most of the day in a tuk tuk, we found a cute little cafe to drown our sorrows in hot drinks and cupcakes.
The next day we wandered around the town on foot, still too angry to get in any moving vehicles. We went to Wat Phnom, which is a massive temple located on the only hill in Phnom Penh. We walked along the river and sat in the sun as it was the first bit of sunshine we had seen in days!
After having a day walking around we decided that the next day we would try and finish what we started and head to the zoo. We had arranged for a tuk tuk to pick us up from our hotel and we set out on the journey. The traffic getting out of town was mental, there are thousands of motorbikes that weave in and out alongside the cars and lorries, and most of them mount the pavement to get by in their rush.
After leaving the town we were on a long deserted track to the zoo, and were getting a bit fed up as with all the traffic the journey had taken us nearly three hours. Suddenly the engine started making strange noises and we kept slowing down. I started to think could this really be happening to us again?! Yes, it could. We broke down. In the middle of nowhere. The second time this had happened in three days. The driver got his stash of tools out and tried to fix his bike. There were no people or shops around and we were really worried that we were going to be stuck there. A man turned up on a motorbike to help and between them they seemed to fix the problem…but we then broke down again on a mini roundabout about 200m from where we’d been…
Finally we reached the zoo, and we had a great time seeing all of the animals. They are all in cages or enclosures, except the monkeys, who wander around the park freely as and when they please, which was quite entertaining.
It was great watching the gibbons do acrobats and swinging around being playful. The elephants were also amazing to watch, Laura even fed one of them a bamboo stick.
Satisfied we had finally seen what we wanted to, we headed on our long journey back to the town where we were going to stop off at an orphanage. On our return we stopped/broke down not once, not twice, but five times. Each time the driver tried to veer us towards a motorbike repair shop and each time we were sat in the back waiting whilst the driver and others fiddled around with the bike. By this point we had been driving for so long and had broken down so many times we were not in the best of moods. We finally arrived after another three hour journey at The Lighthouse Orphanage, but we missed the children’s classes as we were so late. We saw the children playing outside, and they were very friendly and welcoming towards us. We gave them a bag of soaps and toothpaste, which are some of their most needed items.
The day after we headed to the Royal Palace and the surrounding buildings including the silver pagoda.
We then had to prepare ourselves for the next long journey to our next stop, Vietnam!