When strolling the streets of Phnom Penh your senses may send mixed signals to your brain. The aroma seems to change with every step, sometimes pleasant and other times well, disturbing. I suppose if you keep your eyes open and actually look around, you’ll understand why your nose and brain are constantly battling. It’s not uncommon to see a mechanic sharing a driveway with a fruit vendor or raw fish for sale outside of a hair salon. This is all in addition to the traffic smog of motor bikes, busses and cars that crowd the streets. Smelling passed the clutter, there’s never a dull moment for your eyes on a walk through Phnom Penh.
“Does it smell like cat food to you?”
“No, I actually just got a whiff of nail polish remover.”
“That’s strange, oh wait… where is that teriyaki scent coming from?’
“I don’t know, but the car exhaust is killing me!”
“Oh well, how about a coffee? I can smell the beans roasting somewhere…”
“No thanks, it’s hard to drink coffee with the smell of fish around here.”
A beautiful surprise placed itself in front of me when I turned the corner and found this push cart vendor with a few children that had just gotten out of school. Eager to practice their English, they greeted me with a smile and an offer that I didn’t want to refuse. A chance to interact with local kids combined with a mystery jelly-ball slushy made for a refreshing pit stop! They asked me which flavor I wanted and I said “I want to try your favorite”. Who would of thought giving these little guys the freedom to pick for me would bring so much joy to all of us.
The East side of the city brings you to a strip of souvenir shops, trendy book stores and restaurants with a view of the river. I didn’t spend much time here, but definitely enjoyed the breath of fresh(er) air.
I stumbled upon this gem on a side street near the river. The employees are given equal work opportunities and everything inside is handmade by Cambodians with disabilities.
I didn’t plan on stopping in this bubble tea shop, but the enthusiasm from this young girl was magnetic.
“Hello hello!” She said as I smiled by. “How are you today?” She continued, “I’m learning English!”
My reaction was an about-face as I responded walking towards her, “I’m having a great day and you’re English is amazing! Keep it up!”
We spoke for a bit longer and departed with a hug.The glow in her eyes and hope for the future left me on a natural high. I wish she could comprehend the positive impact she made on my life today. Thank you sweet bubble tea girl.
Here are a few creative pics along the way that ends your photo tour of the random sights you may see while walking the streets of Phnom Penh.
Next up… The markets!