Out for a walk beside the Ottawa River in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada!
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Heading to Nova Scotia around August 1st.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Phnom Penh Red Light District

Yesterday, we spent a couple of hours wandering Phnom Penh in the baking heat. It never really cools off here. When the overnight low only goes to 27C (81F), it doesn't take long for things to bake as soon as the sun rises.

And yet, over 2 million people call this home. And there are quite a few expats here. We don't get it, but once again, it's good that we don't all like the same things.

On the one hand, we do kind of like places that have a bit of an edge to them. You can see where Phnom Penh is trying, but some areas are just downright seedy. And from what I've read, it's getting worse instead of better. 

Meth addicts stoned out of their minds, homeless sleeping on the sidewalk, people urinating on the sidewalk as you're walking along. It's pretty rough. Then add in that you risk your life crossing the street because whatever traffic rules there might be aren't enforced at all. It's all very interesting though.

The included breakfast at the hotel was better than expected.
But that's what happens when you keep your expectations low!

Typical scrambled eggs breakfast.
Sweetened "tang" style orange juice from a box.

Scenery along the way.

The Cambodia National Museum.

The museum would have been interesting. But the price for foreigners is $10 USD ($13.50 CAD), while Cambodia residents pay about 15 cents! No thanks.

More scenery along the way.

You're constantly harassed by tuk-tuk drivers. We tell them we want to walk, and they don't get it. Why would you walk in this heat when it costs less than $2 to go pretty much anywhere in the area.

Park beside the Royal Palace.

The street outside the Royal Palace was closed because the king was leaving his residence that morning.

Ruth, at the entrance to the Royal Palace.

So we're walking along and we hear sirens. The king's motorcade was leaving the palace.

There's the king!

Crazy traffic waiting for the king's motorcade to pass.

We wanted to try to get to the top of the Shangri-La Peak building, but it turns out that it's a residence building, not a hotel.

Park decorated for Chinese New Year. 
Opposite the big NagaWorld Casino.

We went into the NagaWorld casino just to cool off. Then we decided that since we were there, we might as well sign up for their players club. Of course many casinos in the United States offer immediate benefits for signing up, and we wondered if it might be the same here. The staff didn't speak much English because although the casino operates strictly for foreigners (gambling is illegal for Cambodian citizens), 90% of their business is Chinese tourists. Anyhow, we wasted a bunch of time going through the process, only to find out that there were no immediate benefits, and when we went to put a $1 note in one of the machines, we learned that the minimum note the machine would accept is $10. We have no desire to gamble anyhow, so we just left.

It's a fancy place!

Me, in the NagaWorld throne!

After that, we went for a walk along the waterfront. Phnom Penh exists at the confluence of three river systems.

There are not many bridges, and many vehicles still use a system of ferries.

Do we love Phnom Penh?
Umm. No.

A lot of Chinese construction money flowing into the city.

The ferry port.

Fake $100 bills.

We heard that there are a lot of fake $USD bills floating around. Down at the waterfront walk, we came across this bunch of them just lying on the ground. You could tell the paper was not just right, but they looked very good!

We went to a Vietnamese Pho place for lunch. It turned out that the pho was expensive, so we had a bowl of soup each, and it wasn't great.

Back to air conditioned room for a nap.

Then out for dinner. We went to an expat restaurant. The food was actually really good. Reasonable priced food, except the drinks were really pricey. So we didn't have anything to drink!

I had the seafood stir fry.
And we split a plate of white rice.

Ruth had the beef with red tree ants and lemongrass!
She said it fine.

Total bill was $10.50 USD ($14.20 CAD).

We had walked down one street the night before that had quite a few working girls on it. Ruth wondered if that was the red light district, so she looked it up, but it turns out that the real red light district is only a couple of blocks up. So we wandered up there after dinner just to have a look.

Along the way, we heard some music and stopped in to watch these guys practicing a dragon dance. I took a video for you. Turn up your volume...

And then it was off to see the girls.

There were more girls than customers!

This one block had to be lined with about 250 girls sitting outside waiting for business. This was about 8:30pm, so who knows, maybe things pick up for them later on in the evening. 

These girls didn't want their picture taken.

I even walked over to a group and asked if I could take their photo, but their "madame" was quick with a firm "no!". 

What a way to make a living. And not a very good one. The average cost for some fun with one of these girls is about $50 USD. And from the number of girls, I'd be surprised if they actually "work" more than a couple of times a week. And of course I'm sure the "madame" takes her cut as well.

Still waiting to hear from our Vietnamese eVisa. They said it could take up to three days, but we're hoping it comes through today so that we can get out of here on Wednesday. 


And in Canada...


  1. Those Benjamins actually do look very authentic, blue stripe and all. I would have to touch them to know that they weren't real! Red tree ants??? Really?

    1. Lol, trust us they weren't real!

      Yep, red tree ants and if you hadn't known that there were ants in this dish you wouldn't have guessed it. The dish itself was actually quite tasty and I wouldn't have hesitated to order it again.


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