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Not losing yourself in Phnom Penh

By: Expat Advisory Posted: July-23-2008 in
Expat Advisory

For those who have known Phnom Penh for any true length of time will know it can become tiresome and overwhelming. It is notorious for helping people lose themselves. So if you wake up one work-free day, you have explored the city, you are bored with your friends and you feel like trying something fresh then here are a few propositions.

A good way to start any day is a round of golf. Phnom Penh's only two full-scale 18-hole golf courses lie on the western outskirts of the city. The Royal Cambodia Golf Club, situated 10km west of the capital, opened in 1996 and was responsible for bringing golf back to Cambodia as its predecessor reverted to land grazing during decades of war. While the course is considered a bit flat, it is lined with paddy fields and coconut palms, which make for an attractive game. The other Phnom Penh golfing alternative is the Cambodia Golf & Country Club located 35km west of the city. Opened in 1996, this course is relatively challenging with plenty of bunkers to keep you on your toes. Dwarfed by superior courses in Siem Reap, these two golf clubs offer a pleasant escape from the bustling city.

Whilst you're in the area and fancy something "slightly" different then why not sample Cambodia's only professional go-kart track? At Kambol F1 you can challenge your friends on a 900-metre long track driving recently updated 200cc carts up to speeds of 60kph. The speedy karts will zoom you around the eleven bends, a small hill and a 150m straight way up to 8 times before you cross the finishing line. Once the results are in the first, second and third place winners can jump on the podium for a prize-winning photograph before heading to the bar for a much needed beverage to cool the adrenaline rush.

Once you have proven yourself on the track, you have the opportunity to show off your sharp shooting skills. Retreating back down the same dirt track toward Highway 4, you'll come across an army camp on your right. However, this is no ordinary training camp. The soldiers, although intimidating, are as amiable as you could ask military men to be and the selection of weapons is diverse. Take to the range and, if you treasure your ability to hear, don some ear defenders. You can fire anything from the notorious Russian AK47 to the American M16 to smaller weapons such as the trusty Colt .45. If you so desire, you can even shoot a chicken or throw a grenade into a pond, which worryingly is a mere twenty meters from the racetrack. Aim low.

Granted that firing weapons designed to inflict horrific and destructive damage to the human body isn't for everyone, there are always the more soothing activities to engage in. The Cambodian Equestrian Center is an international standard riding school that offers riding lessons for adults and children, pony lead rides and jumping shows.

If your definition of exercise involves copious amounts of beer, then why not meet up with the Hash House Harriers? The group is an enthused assembly of walkers/runners/drinkers who meet every Sunday at the Train Station, 2:45PM opposite the pharmacy. Following trails that will lead them to beer, these outdoor enthusiasts run through parts of the city and countryside little explored by the average foreigner. Everyone is welcome.

While Cambodia is still expanding in terms of outdoor, adrenaline-infused activities, there are still a few other options. Betelnut Jeeps organize preset or on demand trips to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue center where you'll find an assortment of rescued animals ranging from the normal to the very unique and obscure. They are located at the Lazy Gecko in Phnom Penh's lakeside backpackers' district. In the same vein is The Harley Tours leaving from Talkin' to a stranger on Street 294.

For a calmer end to the day, transport yourself south to Wat Phnom for a ride on Sambo, the resident elephant, who'll take you around the striking monument or down by the river for a mere ten dollars. Or simply go to riverside mingle with the locals, sample Cambodian local cuisine and take a long tail boat to visit a part of city seldom viewed by tourists.

In Phnom Penh it is easy to find a new level of escape in a city renowned for it. Just don't lose yourself in it.

Cambodia Golf & Country Club 023 218 123
Royal Cambodia Phnom Penh Golf Club 023 366 689
Kambol Kart Raceway 012 232 332
Hash House Harriers 012 832 509
Betelnut Jeep Tours 012 619 924
Harley Tours 012 948 529

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