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Celebrating the Arrival of our Cambodian Visas

We had been told that our visas were due to arrive on Friday, but with so much having gone wrong in our efforts to move to Cambodia, we weren't holding our breath. We had been out for most of the morning, working in a nearby cafe. I'd had Khmer Crepes for breakfast, egg pancakes with prawn and mince meat. Highly recommended, tho it didn't go with my coffee quite as well as a croissant might have.

Our laptop batteries were running low so we packed up and headed back to our hotel. We had made it all the way through the reception area when we heard a shout. "Mr Lee. Your visas are ready!"

We went up to the counter and flipped through the pages of our passports. And there it was. The most beautiful document I've ever laid eyes on. A multiple entry Cambodian Visa valid till October 2017. Sweeeet!

A celebration was in order. We had already planned a fancy dinner as we'd delayed our wedding anniversary celebrations when it landed right in the middle of the mess that was our leaving Australia. Now we had two reasons to celebrate. We'd enjoyed another happy year as husband and wife, and were now legally allowed to remain in the Kingdom of Cambodia for an entire twelve months. It was official!

Mel did some research and turned up a few options. The problem is that our experience of Cambodian food so far has been exceptionally good. Most of the tourist oriented restaurants along Riverside have been delicious and reasonably priced. The street food has been even better, and many times cheaper. For a restaurant to beat a $1.50 bowl of Kuy Teav from the vendor down the street they're going to have to be offering something spectacular.

We decided against a few options that just didn't seem worth it, but one kept on coming up as serious competition, Elephant Bar at Raffles Hotel. If we were going to splurge, we might as well do it properly!

We decided to brave the rain and walk. Not the smartest decision we've ever made. We're not afraid of getting wet, but rocking up to an establishment where everyone else is wearing suit and tie when we're in soaking wet tees and cargo pants doesn't make for a good first impression. Nevertheless, we made it to our destination, smarted ourselves up as best we could, and made our way inside.

We were shown to our seats and ordered their cocktail special, a gin and tonic with cinnamon and orange peel. Delicious! To follow we ordered a couple of dirty Tanqueray martinis, and tho they were a little too dirty for my liking, they sat well with Mel. I switched my order to a dry martini the next round.

Two dirty martinis. Not bad! Photo © Lee Nutter.

For dinner, on top of the nuts, banana chips, and wasabi peas that were served with every drink, we had a mezza plate and some smoked salmon with bread. A light meal was all that was needed after a big breakfast enjoyed at lunch, but when crème brûlée is on the menu it's difficult to say no, so for desert we had another martini and a pistachio crème brûlée.

It's not often we go upmarket, it's just not our scene, but when we do we like to do it properly and feel like it was worth the money. Our dinner at Raffles Phnom Penh satisfied in every possible way, and ended up costing us less than a few drinks with friends would cost us at a shitty pub in Sydney.

We intend to live here in Phnom Penh long term, indefinitely in fact, and job prospects at this stage are somewhat uncertain, so we won't become Raffles regulars, but next time we feel the need to celebrate extravagantly we will definitely be back.


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The "Real" Cambodia

Our Foray into Street Food


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