For lunch, we went to Khmer Kitchen near Pub Street on Kean’s recommendation. We had some of the best food we’ve had all trip at this little hole-in-the-wall place. Cheap beer and really freshly prepared food. I tried the Fish Lab which was a nice white fish prepared in a green peppercorn and sauce with lime juice and fresh basil. Winston asked for the hottest Thai curry from the special Thai page of the menu and was again disappointed.
We returned to the hotel and packed out bags for the return to Phnom Penh, meeting Kean in the lobby at 1515. We’d checked out by 1300, so I stayed in the lobby and watched the bags while the cadets got yet another round of shopping in.
As Kean left us at the airport, we thanked him profusely, gave him a tip equal to $10 apiece and dragged out bags to the counter. The flight went off without a hitch—and the landing was a lot smoother this time, too. As we exited the airplane, a young man was holding an Intrepid sign with my name on it and we were shuttled back to the Plantation Hotel through very heavy rush hour traffic. Intrepid travel had once again done a great job on a cadet trip and I’ll definitely use them again as soon as possible.
We checked into the hotel and were once again presented with their intoxicatingly good fresh passion fruit and orange juice in a champagne flute along with the iced cotton towelettes. We love the Plantation!
We’d made plans to meet our guides, Dan from Developing World Connections, and Vy from Equitable Cambodia at the hotel at 1900 and then all go out for dinner. They were on-time and we hailed two tuk-tuks for the eight of us to go to Sovanna Khmer BBQ on Vy’s suggestion. We made a small mistake, though, when Dan and Vy got into on tuk-tuk with Winston and me, while the other four cadets got into another one. We had our first tuk-tuk race of sorts and were enjoying the ride through the evening air around the Independence Monument until we arrived at the corner near Sovanna to be dropped off. Suddenly, the cadets and their tuk-tuk were nowhere to be seen. We waited a few minutes, but they didn’t show. Vy and I left Dan and Winston at the corner to wait for them (the restaurant was about 50 meters down a narrow road), to see if their driver had deposited them in front of the place. They had not. Then, Vy pointed out to me that there was another location for Sovanna on the same street about 200 meters down the road. The driver must’ve left them there. She walked there, while I stayed in front. Luckily, she found them at the other location and we finally all met up for some grilled food Khmer-style.
The restaurant was bustling with people, completely open in the front, with ceiling fans going full speed and a decent breeze. Grills were in front of the building and the kitchen was raging I nthe back. Vy made suggestions and we ordered things like Grilled Bull’s Heart, Grilled Kidneys, Grilled Tongue, Whole Grilled Fish, and some other dishes. Luke ordered what the menu said was a beef steak, but it bore very little resemblance to what we would call a steak and I don’t think he liked it very much. The beer was again cheap and we were surprised at the end to have a bill of only $65 for all eight of us. We took tuk-tuks back to the hotel—with Vy in one and Dan in the other this time—and made plans to meet the next day at 1130 for checkout from the hotel, loading our bags onto the vans to take us to Kep, getting lunch on the way.