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The noodle maker

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La Mien noodles are the signature dish at Phnom Penh’s Noodle House. The chef makes them from scratch every time someone orders this dish.

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Even though it’s great fun to watch how these noodles are made, the dish itself tastes a little bland. It clearly needs some more spices or sauce.

What I recommend instead are the vegetarian Dim Sum at $ 2.50 and the Red Peanut Curry at $ 3.50 at Noodle House. Both of these are excellent.

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Written by Thorsten

October 25, 2011 at 9:49 am

Asleep in Phnom Penh

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Written by Thorsten

October 22, 2011 at 7:43 am

Exploring Phnom Penh’s architecture by cyclo

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part of a former Chinese temple in Phnom PenhThere’s some interesting architecture in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. Anything from Chinese temples and French colonial buildings to the post-independence works of Vann Molyvann.

Khmer Architecture Tours offers guided tours through the city, that explore and explain some of the most fascinating architectural sights of the city.

I took part in one of these tours today. And even though I’ve been to Phnom Penh numerous times, it was actually the first time I’ve taken a cyclo. I have to say the ride was very pleasant (though probably more for me than for the cyclo driver).

The good thing about the Phnom Penh architecture tours is that you get to see some monuments that are easily overlooked: an old Christian church, for instance, that Cambodian squatters have subdivided into dozens of private dwellings. remnants of a church in Phnom PenhThey have built walls and ceilings inside and created living quarters for entire families. Only rarely do you see a pillar or an arch up above, proving that this really once was the interior of a church. Outside, the church is also hardly recognizable any more because additional houses have been pasted on to its outer walls.

The poorer people of the city desparately need living space, so they’ve built add-ons and lean-to’s just about anywhere they could find space. They’ve converted balconies and galleries to extra rooms, forever changing the facades of many buildings. And they’ve built additional rooms and houses in former courtyards and gardens.

That’s understandable from the point of view of those who desperately need a place to live. Yet on the other hand, it’s also disfigured many an architectural monument in Phnom Penh. And some of them may soon be lost forever.

If you’d like to see more of what New Khmer Architecture can look like, you may want to check out this album of architecture photos I took in Phnom Penh in recent years.

 

Written by Thorsten

October 9, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Drinking and driving in Phnom Penh

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traffic cops and Asahi beerI’m confused. I always thought you weren’t supposed to drink and drive.

But then what’s the message these traffic cops in Phnom Penh are sending out? Their guard house clearly displays an advertisement for beer.

It’s sponsored by Asahi breweries. The company is based in Japan and just trying to get a foot in the door in other Asian countries.

Aaccording to the company website, Asahi’s corporate philosophy is:

The Asahi Breweries Group aims to satisfy its customers with the highest levels of quality and integrity, while contributing to the promotion of healthy living and the enrichment of society worldwide.

Ah, so that’s what all this is about: not drinking and driving, but “…the promotion of healthy living“.

In that case: cheers, officer!

Written by Thorsten

October 13, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Oktoberfest in Phnom Penh – it’s Munich on the Mekong

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Oktoberfest in Phnom PenhI’ve never been to Munich’s Oktoberfest.

Somehow the combination of binge drinking, oom-pah music and big-busted waitresses in dirndl-dresses always failed to intrigue me.

So I was unprepared for what I experienced last night, when I attended the Oktoberfest in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh – of all places.

Oom-pah music in Phnom PenhImagine an authentic Bavarian band playing German beer-drinking music and Alpine yodelling songs to a crowd largely made up of Asians.

The locals seemed to enjoy it, but most of them didn’t have a clue what the singer was trying to tell them when he repeatedly shouted “oans, zwoa, gsuffa!” (rough translation: drink, drink, drink!).

dirndl and fish-net stockingsOne thing I loved was how Asia’s Tiger brewery decked local waitresses out in very loose interpretations of Bavarian dirndl dresses.

waitress posingI don’t know if the fish-net stockings are what a Bavarian matron would wear to church on Sundays…

The food was surprisingly authentic, though. The organisers must have had a tough time trying to find Sauerkraut, Weisswurst (a special kind of Bavarian sausage that is boiled, not grilled) and Apfelstrudel (an Alpine interpretation of apple pie) in Cambodia.

Overall, Phnom Penh’s Oktoberfest was bizarre, but fun. Munich on the Mekong.

And for those in Phnom Penh who can’t get enough of German Gemütlichkeit, there’s good news: the Cambodian capital is home to not one, but two Oktoberfests. One’s at the Cambodiana Hotel, the other at the Sunway.

Written by Thorsten

October 10, 2009 at 4:42 am

Christmas in Cambodia

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Christmas decorations in a Phnom Penh hotel lobbyChristmas isn’t exactly a traditional holiday in Cambodia.

95 % of the people here are Buddhists. Only a very small minority are Christians.

But just like the people in many other Asian countries, Cambodians love Christmas lights and decorations, giving gifts and throwing Christmas parties.

Especially young Cambodians seem to enjoy the magic of Christmas (and in Cambodia, almost everyone is young – the median age is 21).

For this new generation, Christmas embodies Western culture and lifestyle.

Decorating frenzy

Christmas decorations in a Phnom Penh hotel lobbySo in keeping with the holiday spirit, my hotel in Phnom Penh started putting up Christmas decorations at the beginning of this month.

On the first day of their decorating spree, the hotel decorators just installed a Christmas tree in the lobby that lit up at night.

On the second day, they added some wreaths, some stars and more lights.

By the third day, the decorating team had turned the whole lobby into a winter wonderland of lights. I think they  must have all taken classes at the Liberace School for Refined Home Decorating.

Christmas decorations in a Phnom Penh hotel lobbyThis week, the hotel team also draped tinsel garlands and red ribbons around the abstract stone sculptures in the lobby – which to my mind only improved the artwork.

And since last night, there’s also a sign in the lobby wishing us all a Happy Hanukah.hanukah decorations in a Phnom Penh hotel lobby

I wonder if tonight or tomorrow, we’ll also see a poster wishing Happy Kwanzaa.

I’m sure the handful of Africans and people of African descent in Phnom Penh would appreciate the hotel’s thoughtfulness…

Written by Thorsten

December 10, 2008 at 4:58 am

Phnom Penh’s public washroom

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Doing the washing in front of the National MuseumOne of the most public spaces in Phnom Penh is a large lawn in front of the National Museum.

It’s bordered on its four sides by the museum, the enclosing wall of the royal palace and two rows of shops, offices and restaurants.

And even though this piece of green is smack in the heart of the city, it’s also Phnom Penh’s public washroom.

garden hose in front of the palace wallThere are two water hoses on the lawn and any time of day, you’ll find locals making good use of that water.

They’ll step on the lawn,  strip down to their underwear and bring out the soap and shampoo.

And after they’ve  washed themselves in plain public view, they might even bring out the laundry and take care of that too.

washing in public in Phnom PenhThe nice thing is that no one seems to care.

It’s just a part of daily life in Phnom Penh, where not everyone has a sink, a shower or a bathtub at his disposal.doing the laundry on the lawn

Written by Thorsten

December 9, 2008 at 1:24 am

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