Phnom Penh Pub Page – July 2014

I think the evil Publisher has learned his lesson – no early cash for this writer this month. In return for his lack of good faith and growing wisdom, I have procrastinated to the greatest degree possible and refused to go out researching. Not sure how that relates but it seemed like a good excuse to be a lazy git.

Biggest bar news of the month, the Hunchback has learned from his Thai brethren and exercised an almost completely bloodless coup. Taking his example from the previous coup, he waited patiently until the popular ruling despot of this well-known bar on Sisowath had gone on a diplomatic mission to the U.S. Almost as soon as the despot’s plane was in the air, the Hunchback made his move and now seems firmly ensconced in his new home and was last seen blaming someone else for having some Aussie sport on the TV. Hopefully the original Jim will have more success taking back his realm than Thaksin did. But other bar owners be warned, the Hunchback may be looking your way next.

Really was not sure what to write about this month. I hit a lot of bars, but things did not seem as interesting this month. A lot of the bars seemed pretty slow and enthusiasm seemed down. I even ran into a slew of staff from different bars hanging out in Sorya Mall or Pontoon despite their bars being open as they were too bored to stay at work. Let alone the girls from Tpub2 who seem desperate to make me climb 50 flights of stairs to play a game of pool – maybe they were not bored but just thought I needed the exercise.

Despite the relative lack of customers – or maybe because of it – I found service levels worse than usual at a lot of the hostess bars I hit in the last week or so. A few days ago, I hit a few bars on 136 st, I walked in, sat at a table and waited and waited and waited until one of the many staff who were otherwise busily engaged in doing absolutely bloody nothing at all – decided to walk my way.

At 3 of the bars, the lead off was the usual – Hi – where are you from (which is far better than the “are you Thai?” I got last month) but when I was not sufficiently enthused, the staff walked away without taking my drink order. Guess unless they thought there was a drink for them, it was not worth selling one to a customer.

At one of the other bars, I got a walk by with a poke (sounds much dirtier than it was – think Facebook Poke) and nothing else – no greeting and no request for my drink order – was I supposed to reach out and grab her about the neck to get her to do her job? Perhaps the deepest sigh goes to the bar where the staff member waited until I had gotten up and moved my chair out of the way and started to walk out before asking if I wanted a drink.

The bars I got service in were fine but really nothing noteworthy – I had not been in Pussycat bar in quite a long time – really no change at all – except that it seemed far more mellow and thus much more enjoyable from my perspective. Staff was friendly, music was reasonable, no undue pressure to either buy drinks or play pool – glad I stopped in. Also went to Lemon for the first time in a while – still a fun place to drop by – good prices on the drinks and a friendly staff – but again – nothing really new. Also a good time at 69 bar and Best 136. But could someone please open another street of hostess bars for me to slither through???

I did hit a few bars near 178 st this month. I was surprised to realize that the Mansion was open on a daily basis. This is the run down Colonial house facing the Museum on Sotheros. It has a big for sale sign and I learned while I was there that the building is about 100 years old and is currently owned by the FCC. I had seen it open for parties before but had not known it was a regular thing. It is open from 5 pm and has a happy hour from 5-7 with buy one get one free special on cocktails, draft beer and wine. It is pretty sparse and is not the place to go if it is raining as it seems to mainly exist in the courtyard. It looked like one room in the entrance way (which looks pretty faded) is open for seating. There might be more but walking in I was reminded of the time I hung out at Tacheles in East Berlin. It was in a bombed out city block and I ended up doing some renovation work to pay for my meal. I decided I would rather just pay cash and sat outside in the courtyard. Not a cheap place for a drink but an interesting atmosphere with a few backpackers and some local versions of hipsters hanging out when I was there (and one very loud Canadian guy).

Hit Touk and River Crown – seemed the thing to do since one bar is on top of the other – they are respectively the 1st and 2nd floor above Grand River on the corner of 178 st and Sisowath. They both have good views (although River Crown is a bit better – the extra height allows you to see far over the horizon). Oddly they both have the same happy hour 4:30-7:30 with 50% off cocktails and Angkor draft. Actually either option is a pretty sweet way to kill some time watching the world go by while staying off street level and avoiding the annoying traffic. I did not have the energy to walk all the way up to the top so am leaving that for another day.

That is about it – sorry but I think I need to hit more new bars for next month.