Hotel Cambodia

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot to be confused with the Hotel Cambodiana, one of the city’s leading five-star hotels, (the Hotel Cambodia lacks a swimming pool or restaurant, though it has a breakfast room), the Hotel Cambodia is situated a few blocks back from the Riverside, the strip of tourist cafes and boutique hotels along the Tonle Sap river. This photo was taken from inside the tuk-tuk of Mr Sna. The hotel is just behind us. Nearby are Central Market, Old Market, and the Soriya Mall shopping centre. Somewhat further away, and straight ahead in the direction Sna’s tuk-tuk is pointing, are Wat Phnom (the little pagoda-crowned hill from which the city originated), the old Colonial buildings around the Post Office, and, in the opposite direction, the bars on street 136 and street 51.

The streets in this part of town are lined with Chinese shop-houses – a shop at street level and three floors of apartments above – crowded with traffic and people by day, almost deserted after midnight.

The hotel is just one shop-house wide. It has a lobby at ground floor level and a small breakfast room at the back of the second floor. There are five rooms on each floor, a single front room with balconies and views over the street , the back rooms with views over the rooftops – the mid-rooms have no windows. The head clerk is Keo Rithy (the order of Cambodian names is reversed, so his family name is Keo and his own name is Rithy), and we hope he gets out of jail soon.

“Tales of the Hotel Cambodia” is an ongoing series of short stories following the adventures of foreign visitors who stay in the hotel. Some of the visitors can be glimpsed from story to story, morphing from central character in one story to a walk-on part in another. Others are constant – Rithy the receptionist, the tuk-tuk drivers who wait outside the doors, and of course the two policemen, Major Ly and Major Heng.

The next story in the series will be “The Reluctant Virgin”: it will tell how not to pursue love in a massage parlour.

Warning: the Hotel Cambodia series is “Southeast Asian Noir“; for something lighter, try the Burl Ives series.

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