Tag Archives: Asia

Yeti Shops: Central Market, Phnom Penh

I’ve never met a market I didn’t like. Even when there’s absolutely nothing I’m remotely interested in buying (which is quite often the case), markets are an amazing window into how shit gets done in a particular city; in Jodhpur, men are the principle salespeople, advertising their spices, tea, and in rhythmic, unceasingly calls. In Mandalay, locals – ignoring foreigners, for the most part – cluster on plastic stools around plastic covered tables, waiting for bowls of steaming noodles and plates of fresh, spicy tomato salad. Mmmm, tomato salad…

What was I saying? Oh yeah: markets.  Like I said, they’re all good, but Phnom Penh’s Central Market wins the (highly coveted, you understand) award for Rachel’s Favorite Market in Asia (caps and underlining to indicate extreme importance).

Central Market has the perfect mix of strictly-for-tourists stuff (like elephant purses, bamboo balls, and silk everything) and mostly-for-locals stuff (produce, still-wriggling fish, and elaborate flower arrangements). The crowd, too, is mixed; fanny-pack sporting, wide-eyed tourists mingle with bustling, haggling locals.

The market is an easy 20 minute walk from the river and backpackers’ district, which centers around 172nd street. It’s covered – especially important during the frequent deluges of monsoon season – and houses enough food, clothes, souvenirs, and flowers to keep most people (well, me) happy for a couple of hours.

Clothes, bags, and a lovely monsoon-proof roof

Clothes, bags, and a lovely monsoon-proof roof

Directions: Head away from the river on Street 172. Turn right onto Preah Norodom Avenue, then take the third left onto Street 136. Hopefully, you’ll see a rather odd yellow dome looming in front of you — tada! Central Market!

Central Market

Central Market

Produce galore!

Produce galore!

Nap time!

Nap time!

Yeti Sleeps: Somjith Guest House

Choosing a guest house in Luang Prabang is (much like the city in general) pretty stinkin’ great. Just wander down one of the cobblestone side streets on either side of the night market, and you’ll be surrounded by gorgeous two story buildings with dark wood balconies.

Prices on the street seem to vary only slightly, with doubles from 60,000K – 100,000K ($8 – 12). Most have wifi in rooms, and provide free tea, coffee, cold drinking water, and bananas (one day I ate 10 of those suckas. Banana buffet for the win!)

Free tea, coffee, and bananas!

Free tea, coffee, and bananas!

We chose Somjith Guesthouse, on a wee alley way off an apparently nameless side street just south west of the night market. Somjith won us over with its light-filled rooms and balconies (with one perfect little table and chair set up per room).

Our balcony, complete with drawing/gaming/breakfasting table

Our balcony, complete with drawing/gaming/breakfasting table

Ahi chillin' with his laptop on the bed, as he is wont to do.

Ahimsa chillin’ with his laptop on the bed, as he is wont to do.

The Good: Fantastic location, rad balcony, free bananas!

The Bad: The wifi wasn’t perfect, particularly on the first floor. That said, having to spend an afternoon with a brownie and a giant mug of coffee at Joma Café isn’t the worst thing ever…

The Price: Our double room set us back 90,000K ($11) per night — a little more than we paid in other parts of Laos, but certainly nothing bank-breaking.

Getting there: From the bus station or airport, ask your tuk-tuk/taxi driver to drop you at Joma Café, near the night market. Take the side street right next to Joma. About half way down, you’ll spot a ‘Somjith Guesthouse’ sign on your left. Follow the signs!