Arrival into Phnom Penh was painless; about a half hour from plane to door. The $20 for visa on arrival took less than 5 minutes and our bags were already on the carousel by the time we got there. Outside, the driver set up by Ponheary was waiting. He drove with one hand on the horn and one foot on the gas at 70 mph the whole way. We got there in 4.5 hrs including a stop in Kompong Thom at the Arunras hotel for a bland chicken and water spinach. The scene along the way was endless rice fields, cows, water buffalo, goats, and oddly enough, many people playing volleyball in their yards. Turns out volleyball is a popular sport here.
We arrived to no electricity which happens here in Siem Reap. It usually only lasts no longer than a couple of hours and actually never went out again during our stay. We did our best to clean up a bit and then went out for drinks and dinner with Lori and Lynn, her friend who is here from Texas for a month. We took one of the guesthouse’s tuk tuk’s (guys who have been approved by the guesthouse and are trustworthy) to an alley off pub street called “The Passage.” There, we went to a little Spanish inspired bar called Picasso’s where a decent margarita on the rocks was $3.50. They also have imported wines by the glass all under $4 and tapas to snack on. There is a vaulted brick ceiling over a horseshoe shaped bar. Please note, “Pub Street” where all the tourists go is a zoo and filled with mediocre restaurants. My advice is to get off it and explore other options. There are cute boutique shops in the Passage too.
By this time I’d hit the wall and after 30 hours of travel and a cocktail all I wanted was a bed so I didn’t order anything, but everyone else’s food was fantastic. There were grilled frog’s legs which were a tasty snack. Unfortunately, it was too dim in there to get good photos of the food. Lori’s favorite, the “pork chop over glowing embers” was a HUGE grilled pork chop served on the bone; it looked like a Flintstone dinner. I had a couple bites and it was excellent. Mom ordered eggplant with ground pork which was absolutely fantastic. Portion sizes are pretty big for here. Lynn had Tom Yum Gai soup, vegetarian fried rice and ordered a tofu vegetable dish which never came and eventually showed as a Khmer mixed vegetable salad which was pretty good.
Touich is located behind Wat Enkosai Preah and is worth the trek out by tuk tuk. Have your hotel call for directions 092-808040. Also, have your driver stay, because getting back can be a pain. We bought our driver dinner. The “boom boom road” is a heavily pot holed unpaved dirt road and at this time of year was a muddy track with the potholes were the size of small swimming pools filled with water. The driver navigated them expertly. We got back and I was done, asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.