The Russian Market is known as the best place in Phnom Penh for souvenirs and clothes shopping. I’m not much of a shopper but wanted to visit for the experience and perhaps find a few small gifts. The market is popular among tourists, expatriates, and local Cambodians. It was named after its popularity among Russian expatriates during the 1980s. The Russian Market carries items such as drinks, snacks and cooked food, traditional carvings and handicraft, gems, hand-woven Chinese and Cambodian silk, antique furniture, music, DVDs and CDs, silverware, books and maps, backpacks, handbags, shoes, and clothing.
For avid art collectors, the market is a source of ‘objects d’art’. Interesting items for sale include wooden and stone carvings, silverware, and old Indochinese notes and coins. Gold and silversmiths inside the market make custom jewelry while shoppers watch and local artisans showcase their work at the market to attract tourists. Displays include newly made traditional handicrafts as well as older genuine antique carvings.
Russian Market architecture is of far less interest than the Central Market but it has a larger and more varied choice of souvenirs, curios, and silks. Like the Central Market, there are several jewelers and gold-sellers, but it also has a n huge choice of curios, silks, and carvings and is one of the best markets in town to buy fabric. The Russian Market is busy and full of life and it’s a marvelous experience just looking around.
Just outside of the Russian Market towards the back is a clump of shops and a café called Yej Cafe. This café serves some of the best food in Phnom Penh. The staff wear yellow and the inside is purple and yellow. The bathroom is brilliantly painted too. The girls working in the café have been through different programs, including destiny rescue and sunshine house. They have been through rape, abuse, and other issues and this café recruits them and gives them an income. So by eating here you are not only being treated to brilliant food but also helping worthy causes.
I decided to have lunch at a restaurant near the market called Jars of Clay. It specializes in teas and coffee, iced drinks, pastries, and sandwiches. Eight young Cambodian women run the restaurant and 10% of the profits pay school fees for children as well as help widows and sick people in the community.
Early tomorrow morning I take a boat to Siem Reap. The trip along the Mekong River is about 6 hours and I’m really looking forward to the experience!