Photo: Wat Lanka, Phnom Penh.

Orussey Market

Our rating:

A big and busy local market, Orussey offers a broader slice of “Cambodiana” than you’ll find in Russian or Central Markets; and who knows what you might pick up in the huge, two-storey hall that’s packed with everything from plastic pigs to dried fish and padding to make your bum look bigger.

No matter which country you’re in, its markets are always an interesting expression of the culture. From the sly argy-bargy of a British stall-holder flogging flaky jeans, to the almost oppressive insistence of an Indian fabric seller or the soft-spoken confidence with which French market vendors offer up the most perfectly imperfect foods, there are always hints to be gleaned of the national character. In Cambodia’s markets you’ll find crush, a little ordered chaos, a peculiarly coy approach to selling, and all-too-frequent clashes with the whiff of prahok.

Orussey Market from above.

Orussey Market from above.

Not far from the more serene environs of Central Market, Orussey Market is very much more local, which makes it much more fun in our view. Outside is chaos as delivery vans vie for space in which to offload in among the locals zipping up on motor scooters to pick up dinner, a television, flowers, clothes, or just a plastic pig. However, even with all the people that you’ll cross paths with here, the aisles are wide enough to keep the inside a reasonably comfortable, mannered experience. Until you get upstairs.

You need these. You just might not know it yet.

You need these. You really do. You just might not know it yet.

One of the great draws of Orussey Market is the huge clothing and fabrics space on the first floor, and it is choked. On the clothing front, it should be noted that, unlike Russian Market, anyone over a UK size 10 is likely to come away disappointed (and hot and sweaty and flustered). The primary market is local, and that means small. On the other hand, there is a row of tailors and reams and reams of fabric on one side — we got a little disoriented it has to be said, but they’re easy to find. If you want things made, this is a fun stop off.

Get a Khmer outfit made. It’ll look great on you. Honest.

Get a Khmer outfit made. It’ll look great on you. Honest.

Downstairs, you’ll find everything from dried fish to dishwashers, fake flowers to flaky pastry desserts — try them, they’re delicious. It’s all run with good humour, gentle banter and that peculiar one-step forward, two-step back smiling, pushful reticence with which Cambodians seem to bargain.

Mmmmmm, dried fish.

Mmmmmm, shrivelled fish.

By .

Orussey Market
Street 182, Phnom Penh
Admission: Free

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