The markets of Phnom Penh are fascinating. There are jewelry markets where tourists can get "fanstastic" "deals" on rubies and clothes, but there are also still lots of large markets catering to locals where things remain a little grittier.
For instance, here's the live poultry area at Orussey Market (please don't show this photo to Customs when we get back to the States; I'd rather not get tested for bird flu.)
After you make your selection, you can get your chicken or duck killed and plucked right around the corner.
The bustle and flow of Orussey is neverending. Don't dawdle or you might get run over by a bushel of durian.
Seafood's on offer, too, including many varieties we'd never seen before.
Smoked fish are extremely popular.
Anywhere a booth or a table or a blanket can be wedged in to claim a little floor space, there's selling going on.
And outside, an excuse for a massive party!
The market must have been surrounded by hundreds of whole roasted pigs. Quite amazing.
You can also grab threaded jasmine flowers, either for offerings at temples or for good luck while driving - just hang the wreath from your rearview mirror.
Central Market, on the other hand, is a much more approachable place for tourists. It's recently been redone, so the full glory of the Art Deco building shines anew.
The domed area of the market appears to be almost entirely taken up by jewelers - beware the deals to be had here. Some people are selling glitter and paste and are up front about it; others are selling "gemstones" of which I'd be very suspicious.
The spokes that radiate out from the central hall are full of clothing shops selling inexpensive Chinese goods or secondhand items; not a bad deal, but nothing fancy. The food and eating areas are contained along the back.
The Cambodians have a deep and abiding love of water plants, like lotus; we saw lots of greenery and cockles.
Red ants and ant eggs, with galangal!
And oh, the fruit; you guys, the fruit. The bananas here are out of this world delicious. What am I going to do when I get home and am reduced to eating the mealy, made to travel Cavendish? (Now there is a first world problem if I've ever heard one.)
You can get very fresh scallops at the Central Market, if you don't mind that this is how they're usually cleaned.
And there's a lot of premade food around this part of the market as well. Easiest would be to walk up to one of the grills and point at something that looks good (the squid seemed particularly promising), and then get some sticky rice as a side; if you're feeling a bit more adventerous there are booths selling noodle soups and make your own spring rolls and glutinous, soupy desserts.
Phnom Penh's other famed market is the Russian Market; it's supposed to be a great place for clothes and, again, jewelry. We skipped it, having enjoyed our time at Orussey and Central Market. I still maintain that visiting a market is one of the best ways to get a window into a culture, so thanks again folks of PP for reinforcing that for us!