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Phnom Penh’s Night Market – a shoppers delight

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

© Frank P. Schneidewind

Right off the banks of the Tonle Sap or Bassaic River, just steps away from the shore is the Cambodian capital’s new attraction, the night market. It features a load of authentic Khmer food stalls and a number ofsnack- and sweets dealers, intermingled with the obvious array of beer- and soft drink vendors. Quite a clean place, unlike some night market counterparts in neighboring Thailand. The surface is plastered and every night all dealers must pack up their wares. Daily cleaning crews then scrub the place tidy and leave no hints of the market during the days.

There are hundreds of motorcycles parked on the southern flank, as this spot attracts mostly the local crowds. Foreign visitors are rarely spotted and the relatively new market hasn’t received much mentioning in those printed forms of the backpacker’s bibles a.k.a. Guidebooks to Phnom Penh. Come here if you’re hunting for garments at real bargain prices. As skyrocketing minimum wages and cost of living make Thailand constantly less attractive for the garment industry of this Planet. We found the place where the likes of GAP, Old Navy, Columbia and other outfitters manufacture their goods. Around Phnom Penh garment factories are mushrooming in unbelievable amounts and the factory workers are super happy about the opportunities there. Thousands work in this industry around the clock in shifts and demand is escalating further. Me having witnessed the last war actions that tore this country up since their break away from French oppression as a colony (50’s to late 90’s!), I am so happy for the friendly Khmer people that they have now encountered an era of peace, prosperity and stability!

Here you can indulge in free live entertainment nightly. Insiders know that this civilization was the cradle of progress for all Southeast Asia during the last Millennium. Thais do not believe these facts, but see for yourself and make up your mind. Thai art and folklore is almost entirely based on this cultural mother lode, that brought awesome grace to every detail. The performances here are by students and scholars of the various Phnom Penh Universities. To us watching they were simply mind blowing and we watched for the duration of the shows. 😀

The vendors here have massive amounts of merchandise on their tables and offer their goods under tarps during the rainy season. The place is well lit up and you can presently shop without the elbow rubbing of other market shoppers in tiny walkways.

Culinary delights are to be had in abundance, plenty of snack stalls and fruit vendors satisfy the visitors needs for a little bit of local currency. All of Cambodia is quite inexpensive, if you know your ways around.

The diners relax on mats on the floor, but plastic style furniture is provided for the elderly and foreign guests here. It all appears pleasantly clean at the Night Market.

The dishes will be served on the mats or seating areas. You can point to picture menus, if Khmer language ain’t a part of your communication skills. Ice cold beers are under 1 $ and the meals cost according to the ingredients between 50 cents and maybe 2 $ for a whole set with freshly steamed rice. Authentic Khmer Cuisine at rock bottom price levels in a chilled out atmosphere.

Local fruits can make a great desert. Here is a good opportunity to sample the variety of the season. Selection does not meet Thai levels yet, but they are improving year by year here.

Fresh squeezed sugarcane juice is a genuine Cambodian staple, you should give it a try. It really doesn’t taste bad and is as organic, as can be. Some stalls sell cotton candy balls or cookies. The cookies do taste o.k. – but often are a bit sweet for my taste buds and belly.

The hawkers here have a growing number of stalls with consumer electronic goods, such as phones and other gadgets too. Beware of Samtung or Nokkia phones, they are usually cheaply made Chinese copies of the real ones!

We sure will return to this great market and participate in some heavy duty bargain shopping. No other place known to me in Southeast Asia can compare to great value and quality of the goods offered here.

Future Dive Attraction on Koh Chang: The former USS Lincoln County (1944)

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

© Frank P. Schneidewind

This vessel was built in Philadelphia for the US Navy in 1944 to assist in the Pacific war efforts. The boat was capable of transporting troops, tanks and gear directly to the shores of countries that were engaged in conflicts. The USS Lincoln County was given the hull number 898 and it’s first trips involved the invasion of imperial Japan at Okinawa. Later use as a capable transport vessel brought this boat to the Korean conflict, where it assisted in the famous Inchon invasion under General Douglas MacArthur and various other war theaters. The USS Lincoln County earned 7 battle stars (1 in Japan, 6 in Korea) during her service for the Navy. It was later used in the fading 1950’s to install elements of the DEW-Line in Alaska and Hawaii. She was decommissioned in March of 1961.

Like other military vessels, the LST-898 was then reused by allied forces, in this case the Royal Thai Navy. The boat was reassigned the hull number 2 (later changed to 712) and entered their service in August of 1962. For almost 50 years, the tank landing ship provided transport for troops and vehicles for the Navy. 712 HTMS Chang was moored near Bangkok in 2006 and partly gutted out. The Navy then decided to sink it as an artificial reef in the vicinity of Koh Chang island, a popular holiday destination. It’s journey to the Southeastern island (near the Cambodian border) was executed by two tugboats. It arrived on Koh Chang’s Navy pier in July 2012.

This is the Royal Thai Navy pier on the eastern shore of the island near the community of Dan Mai.

The provincial flag of Trat shows a white elephant on a red background. Elephant translates into “Chang” in Thai language

The residents, old and young, greeted the arrival of the big boat and a ceremony was to be held, so the HTMS Chang was really welcomed in style on the elephant island Koh Chang!

Officials and representatives of the local and provincial government met with Thai Navy officers to take possession of the vessel.

The huge boat (100 m long with a 15 m beam!) still shows all significant structures, but had been stripped of its armament.

Everybody loved the chance to inspect the vessel on dry foot, while it was berthed at the pier.

The organizing committee couldn’t have asked for a better weather. Scorching sun and blue skies – true Koh Chang style!

The deck was made accessible to the visiting public and islanders. And cameras were clicking wildly.

The public made itself familiar with the true dimensions of this vintage giant, that once served in wars only known in fading memories here.

The underwater exploration of such vessels became a big thing for Scuba divers worldwide with wreck diving being very popular amongst recreational divers.

The island’s team of volunteer road rescue personnel poses in front of the bridge on the upper deck.

Flower garlands were hung up in several prominent places and on masts to bless the occasion. This report will have a follow-up on the actual sinking date! Authorities are yet unsure about the specific date, but it can happen soon and will take place near the islet of Koh Rayang at Hin Luk Bat.


UPDATE: October 6th, 2012

Several projected sinking schedules in the past have lapsed without a single splash. The boat remains docked most days at the said Navy pier and can be viewed by the public. Rumors are now hardening for unspecified sinking days late in 2012, when seas are calm.

Nobody may say what will happen and when it will. We are just waiting it out.



UPDATE: November 22nd, 2012

The vessel was finally sunk at Hin Luk Bat, just outside Bang Bao village in approx. 18 m deep waters. Time of sinking was around 10:12 A.M., the final moments were documented by our crew, the corresponding videoclip will be shown here soon.


UPDATE:  Here is the SIAMPEDIA Video: