Friday, 19 June 2015

A morning in Phnom Penh

The clock has just struck 630. Outside Phnom Penh's historic Orussey Market, the Capitol Tours bus stop is as busy as a movie set this Wednesday morning. The bus drivers hang around for the appointed departure time to arrive. The helpers load up the back of the bus with the wares of the passengers, placing my backpack on top of all the cardboard boxes with the trepidation one would usually associate with a cat that's unsure of the meal she's just been served. Outside, freshly baked buns fill the air with the smell that is distinct to bread just pulled out of the oven. The aroma of Cream-filled centres, pork buns, and jam buns wage a stately war with the fresh buns that are waiting for their fillings. This is something unique to Phnom Penh, both women and men selling the crispest baguettes, waiting with forceps on hand for you to point out to the filling that you'd like.

Phnom Penh gets quite busy at even at 630.

The six ladies at the helm of the ticket offices barely have the time to catch a gulp of water. Buses are leaving every ten minutes, worried foreigners are streaming in at about 3 or 4 per bus, wondering if the ticket they bought the previous night is legitimate. Locals are rushing in, parking their motorbikes with the deft swiftness that I have come to associate with Cambodians, and hurry to the ticket counters to buy tickets and head back out with the same alertness. Yet another set of motorbike riders are arriving, with huge packs of sealed boxes carefully balanced in the little space the bike offers between their legs. Pick up the box, drop it at the feet of the lovely ladies at the ticket counter, fill up a form, paste its copy on the top of the box, show the original to the lady, pay, and off you go.

The driver also picked up packets from strangers on the way delivered it, without any form of communication if I might add, to others down the road. Not Shady At All.
The driver also picked up random packages from strangers on the road and delivered it, with no form of communication if I might add, to others down the route. Par for the course in this part of the world I guess.

A few Khmer words on the PA, my bus driver rushes to his seat and taps the horn twice, and turns to find me sitting diagonally to the right of his shoulder. He switches on the music player and skips a couple of songs. Jiggles his shoulders with a broad smile. He's found his favourite. He turns to me and hopes to elicit a similar response. I smile. He's worn his sunglasses. Uttered a choice few words to the motodup rider blocking his way ahead. The bus and I are off to Kampot.


This is the start of a series of posts that I hope to write on my trip to Cambodia. In no particular order, of course. Simpler ones to write are the first to go up, I guess.