Left Battambang by car at 8am after a very difficult set of goodbyes. All of Sak's family - his wife (Theara), 3 daughters (Chakrya, Borromey & Holly) and his son (Chamnap) turned up at the hotel to wave me off. Yes, as predicted, I cried! (See photos in 'Battambang' album). Sak was travelling down to Phnom Penh with me and decided to take me for coffee first at his local streetside cafe - probably because he didn't want a weeping woman sitting next to him in the car!
The journey down to Phnom Penh took 3.5 hours and it poured with rain nearly all the way (unusual for January). I'm treating myself to a stay at the FCC (Foreign Correspondent's Club) for 2 nights and then moving to the much cheaper Anise Hotel in the NGO district, a little further out of the main part of the city.
Phnom Penh is very noisy and dirty and the people don't seem as friendly, but that's probably because of the number of Westerners, particularly the middle-aged Western men with young Khmer girls. It really is disgusting! Laura, who has been here all week and left yesterday for Vietnam, actually called the Child Protection Hotline after witnessing the actions of a Western man with a young Khmer girl. Laura said the girl could have only been about 13.
Sak & I spent the afternoon looking around the sights and walked the full length of the city (which sounds impressive but isn't really as the city isn't that big!). Then at 6.30pm we met up with my friend Andy Brouwer (who introduced me initially to Sak and moved to live in Phnom Penh last year after 14 years of visiting) for dinner at Romdeng - a Not-For-Profit training restaurant run by the Mith Samlanh 'Friends' NGO, giving street youths hospitality training.
We had a good natter about everything Cambodian (of course) and then at 9pm Sak & I returned to the area around the FCC (Sisowath Quay) and had a couple of drinks in one of the riverfront bars. I introduced him to Pina Coladas, which here are very strong, and he said he liked it very much . . . but the grimace on his face gave it away!