Kompong Chhnang, Cambodia: Bad food, aggressive tuk-tuk drivers, and floating villages.
We booked a bus from Phnom Penh to Kompong Chhnang with Phnom Penh Sorya (15,000r/US$3.75) whose buses leave from Psar Thmei. The bus was supposed to leave at 10:30am but didn’t end up leaving until 12:30pm. While we waited we tried to feel the benefit of the Phnom Penh Sorya bus terminal “cool down zone”.
When we arrived in Kompong Chhnang, we were mauled by tuk-tuk drivers. We made a deal with one guy to take us to Sokha Guesthouse. He rode in the back and explained that Sokha Guesthouse was now called Sokha Hotel, and that they had raised their prices. If we wanted, he knew a “new hotel” with “reasonable rates”. Sure bud, just take us to Sokha’s. We got there, and the rates were as expected: $8 for a fan room. We paid the tuk-tuk guy his 50 cents and fobbed him off as he tried to sell us a tour in his tuk-tuk. After he left, a moto driver from the bus station approached and told Ryan that he had followed us because he was worried for us. He said the tuk-tuk tout was drunk and rude and had pushed his way in to talk to us, and that we shouldn’t take his tuk-tuk tomorrow. I guess there’s a lot of competition and not enough tourists to go around.
Kompong Chhnang lacks big-time in the way of food. We found two restaurants, one of which we frequented twice (Mittapheap Restaurant), despite not enjoying the first meal we had there, which gives you an idea of the lack of options. The night market is small and there are limited food options there, but barbecue chicken is always a good stand-by.
The next day we decided not to rent a tuk-tuk for the day to see Ondong Rossey (a village famous for its red clay pottery) or Phnom Santuk (a hill with a temple and nice views). Instead, we took (a different) tuk-tuk to the boat dock ($4 return). Immediately off the tuk-tuk, a guy approached us and said, “$16 for an hour tour of the floating village.” Even our tuk-tuk driver thought that was extortionate. We walked down to the waterfront and offered a woman $8 for an hour tour which she gladly accepted. She didn’t speak English, but it wasn’t needed. She stopped and bought a coffee along the way at her friend’s floating cafe, which was kind of neat.
A Trip on the Tonle Sap
While there’s not much do (or eat) in Kompong Chhnang proper, the floating village was amazing and more authentic than those on offer from tour companies in Siem Reap. Definitely worth a detour.
Next up: Battambang!