If you’re in Cambodia, you simply have to visit its capital Phnom Penh, which is an incredible city, and a fascinating mix of old and new. Here, tangled electricity cables hang over the streets like cobwebs; a multitude of cluttered shops sell a motley collection of things, a large variety of food stalls intoxicate your senses with their lovely smells and all you see are mopeds, mopeds and mopeds. But at the same time, Phnom Penh is re-inventing itself as a hip ‘food capital’ where restaurants transform traditional dishes into modern creations and where trendy coffee bars not only serve wonderful coffee but also aim to give street youth the chance of a better life (for instance Feel Good Coffee). When it comes to sightseeing, the Royal Palace is an absolute must-see, as is the National Museum. What impressed me the most was Tuol Sleng Museum and the Killing Fields, Choeung Ek, where I would advise you to take an audio tour. Here, you will be confronted with Cambodia’s dark side: the horrible genocide that took place here during the Pol Pot regime in the seventies. To my mind, there’s no avoiding this, for it has been (and still is) so very determining for this country. Also, it will make you respect the immense flexibility and zest for life of the Cambodian people even more.
In the middle of this busy city I found a lovely haven: The Kabiki. Situated in a quiet place with a beautiful and lush green garden and many of the city’s highlights within walking distance; the best of both worlds! The hotel only has 18 rooms, a small restaurant/bar and a lovely swimming pool for a cooling dip after a day of wandering around the city. The Kabiki is very well suited for families travelling with children, as many of the rooms come with extra beds or even bunk beds. I’m extended a very warm welcome and refreshing drinks and fresh fruit are waiting for me in my room. And speaking of the rooms, these cater to your every need: mosquito nets, coffee and tea-making facilities, complimentary bottles of water, minibar etc. The bathroom is somewhat small, compared to my spacious room, but that’s only a minor detail, for the shower is very comfortable.
Again, it’s the friendly and attentive staff that make the difference here. For instance, on my first night, they arrange for us to have dinner at Maliz, a lovely restaurant only five minutes by tuk-tuk away. And breakfast is a treat as well, not only because it is served in the Kabiki’s gorgeous tropical garden, but also because it includes freshly baked bread from the famous ‘boulanger’ Eric Keyser.
In short, The Kabiki is the perfect base from which to discover the wonderful city. The French colonial atmosphere and the large garden with its lush vegetation are a lovely oasis after a day of sightseeing. It is the perfect place to recharge your battery to hit the city again… and again!