The Flocations team met Rowan at the JFDI incubator. Being a mentor and a fellow traveller, we have asked Rowan for an interview to enlighten everyone about his latest travel to Cambodia! Here’s Rowan turning the tables on an unsuspecting spider.
Flocations: Let’s have it; overview of your trip!
Rowan Simpson: I was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for a weekend, flying in from Singapore on Friday evening and back on Sunday evening.
I was lucky to be looked after by a friend from New Zealand who is currently living and working there. Because of the limited time it was a bit of a rush to catch up with them and also see some of the sights, but I managed to squeeze a lot into a short visit.
Flocations: What was your favourite sight?
Rowan Simpson: Perhaps “favourite” is not the right word, but I definitely recommend a visit to Choeung Ek (aka The Killing Fields) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choeung_Ek and Tuol Sleng Detention Centre (now the Genocide Museum) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuol_Sleng_Genocide_Museum in the city. It’s chilling to visit places where only 30 years ago some pretty horrible things took place, and to learn more of the history and reflect on the events that lead to that happening.
If you need to let off some aggression after that, there is a shooting range on the way back into the city where you can try out a wide range of semi-automatic weapons. After trying that I decided I would make a pretty hopeless terrorist/freedom fighter.
Flocations: What did you find most shocking/interesting?
Rowan Simpson: After spending a few weeks in Singapore the thing that slaps you in the face as soon as you leave the airportis the noise and chaos, as tuk-tuks fly in all directions, dust is kicked up from the roads and sidewalks and there are people everywhere.
I was also interested to see how they operate a dual currency – with prices quoted in both Cambodian Reals and US Dollars. It’s not unusual to pay in US Dollars and receive change in local currency. The on-the-fly exchange rate calculations are a normal part of the retail experience.
Flocations: What would you do differently if you were to go back?
Rowan Simpson: Spend more time there, obviously. And get out of the city and explore Siam Riep and other more remote parts of the country. This trip has definitely whetted my appetite for a return visit sometime soon.
Flocations: What was the best dish you ate?
Rowan Simpson: Again, I’m not sure that “best” is the appropriate word, but the crunchy plate of tarantulas we were served on Friday evening is definitely the food that will stick in my memory. Something to try once and then talk about forever. It was an excellent meal at a training restaurant run by/for an orphan charity (all of the staff are orphans which the organisation has assisted).
Flocations: what advice would you give travellers traveling there?
Rowan Simpson: Find a tuk-tuk driver who you trust and get them to look after you for the time you are there. It’s embarrassing how little these guys cost and it’s great to buzz from place to place in an open air vehicle and soak up the sights and sounds (and smells!) en route. As them to take you somewhere off the beaten track – that’s always where the most interesting things are.
I can also recommend the Quay Hotel on Sisowath Quay – a clean, inexpensive and modern place right on the river. I would definitely stay there again.