Koh Pich isn’t new, but there are a bunch of places on the island that are. We checked them out.
Just a few drops in the ocean of shoes available on the man-made island.
Koh Pich is one of the rare things so cool that it has appeared multiple times in 5 cool things. If that isn’t enough of an indicator of its charm, you only have to spend a few hours taking in the spectacular scenery, natural beauty and fresh air from the surrounding river before you are also sold on the splendor of Phnom Penh’s most famous man-made island.
As if it weren’t already good enough, a shopping mall is quickly being constructed on Diamond Island and it seems like businesses are moving in as fast as the buildings are being constructed. Like the amusement park and lawn nearby, the Koh Pich night market is quickly becoming one of the most popular hang outs for teenagers and young adults looking for a hip evening hangout.
With nothing better to do on our day off for the King’s birthday, a few friends and I headed across the bridge to join the happy masses slowly making their way across the golden mythological bird bridge. We had all been to Koh Pich before, but never to the night market. We set out to get a sense of the place and figure out which new shops are worth a visit and which shops only warrant window shopping.
The expanding line of restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream parlors, clothing and footwear retailers, karaoke bars and entertainment clubs are like a siren song for a group of friends in the mood to consume. When we finally arrived at the market, everything looked absolutely awesome. As we parked our motor-bikes the fresh air along the river made us feel like the whole island was air conditioned.
Our first stop was a store selling a wide variety of shoes, and although it doesn’t yet have a name (unless you count to piece of paper taped to the wall with H-15 written on it), the selection was just as good as anything you will find at the city’s more well-established malls. “Every pair of shoes is so beautiful,” said one of my friends. The price was also quite reasonable, with a pair of kicks costing US$8 to $25. The sweet selection had us feeling downright giddy and another friend burst out saying, “I am floating on a boat of dilemma trying to decide which one to take. I like them all!” We agreed it was time to leave.
We thought it couldn’t get any better after the shoe store, but we only made it 50 metres before being sucked back in to shopping mode. “Wow, super cheap!” came the sales pitch from a clothing seller as we walked by. We couldn’t help but check out if she was telling the truth. It turns out she was. There was a pile of jeans for only $2 each. That’s two pairs of pants for less than one dish of frozen yogurt at Tutti Frutti! Alongside the jeans were piles of t-shirts, shorts and other clothes, all costing from $3 to $6. We were trying clothes on furiously until we once again realized we were verging on ridiculous and had to remove ourselves.
We were a bit tired of shopping and unsure about our self control, so we went on the hunt for a restaurant where we could fill our hungry stomachs and relax our weary legs. By tired of shopping, we did find some restaurant to feed up our stomach. We found a place called Pumpkin, and while we were waiting to be seated (not cool), we realized it was a rather upscale beer garden that clearly catered to people more mature than we were on this particular night. But they served fried rice, grilled beef and plenty of other suitable food for our appetite so we decided to stick it out. Poor decision it turns out because when a waitress finally came she told us they were full.
We regrouped and soon found ourselves sitting in surprisingly comfortable seats at a restaurant called Angkor Chum that specializes in Chinese noodles. As with the last joint, the restaurant was teeming with customers, but we soon found a spot to settle down. We shouted our order of two bowls of noodle soup and two plates of fried noodles to make sure our voices rose above the racquet around us.
We had worked up quite an appetite with all the excitement of the evening, and once our food came we stopped chatting and laughing for the first time in hours. With so many new things to check out, we agreed that the evening was a raging success. Fortunately for all of us, the Koh Pich night market is getting bigger by the day so there will be plenty more nights like it.