Friday, December 9th, 2016

My Guesthouse Fell Into the Lake

16

Number Nine Guesthouse is not open right now.

I laugh.  “Yeah, right.”  After four months in Southeast Asia, I’ve heard that one a thousand times.  Tuk-tuk drivers will tell you anything to get you to a guesthouse where they can earn a commission.

No,” the driver tells me.  “Number Nine Guesthouse is gone now.”

No, it’s not,” I reply.  “I stayed there two months ago.”

It was torn down.”

You expect me to believe that?  Fellas, please,” I say, invoking a favorite expression of my dad’s: “I was born at night, but I wasn’t born last night.

I take my bag and walk around the corner to the guesthouse.

And…sh*t.  It really is gone. Where Number Nine Guesthouse once stood, there’s now an empty gap and a pile of rubble.

For once, they weren’t kidding.  The guesthouse really did fall into the lake.

When I stayed at Number Nine Guesthouse two months earlier, I paid $4 for a room with two twin beds. Splitting the cost with a Swedish girl the first night, it was the cheapest room I’ve had on the entire trip.

The Number Nine had a great deck overlooking the water, and a nice backpacker hangout area with comfy chairs and a TV.  In fact, that was where I got introduced to the hilarious British comedy Peep Show.

The only problem?  The guesthouse was precariously built on top of the lake.

I had nightmares every night that the guesthouse was crashing and sinking, murky water pouring around me.

And then it actually happened!!!  The f*ck?!?!

The Number Nine is Lonely Planet’s current top pick for guesthouses in the lakefront area. As you’d imagine, the street is now perpetually filled with bewildered backpackers, their battered yellow guidebooks open to the same spot.

Phnom Penh’s lakefront is one of the great backpacker neighborhoods of Southeast Asia. It’s cheap, it’s filled with cool restaurants, and it has a bit of a hippie vibe.

But it’s not going to be around for long. The Number Nine wasn’t the only place that had been torn down.  So had several restaurants, including my favorite, the aptly named Oh My Buddha.

Want to experience this neighborhood?  Don’t wait.  Go now.  It’s not going to be around for long.

Comments

16 Responses to “My Guesthouse Fell Into the Lake”
  1. Patricia GW says:

    That’s insane, I can’t believe your premonition came true! You weren’t in the guest house at the time it sunk, that’s something to be thankful for.

  2. Amanda says:

    Wow, how crazy! This is the exact sort of reason I give people to convince them to travel NOW. You never know when things you want to see are going to just collapse or disappear. Nothing lasts forever.

  3. Apparently they are going to fill the lake in to build on it. They’ve been saying it for years but looks like they’re now doing it. Shame though, it’s a great area to stay in 🙁

  4. Andrew - The Unframed World says:

    Wow creepy! I love the photo btw! Did you snag a shot of number 9 before it was torn down?

  5. Elise says:

    It is really sad that they are going to fill it in. When we were there we spoke to a lady from an NGO who was helping the people living around the lake. As apparently these forced evictions are carried out in the name of development and many people are left without homes, water and sanitation.

  6. Shame. Hopefully you found a suitable replacement!

  7. Mica says:

    Damn! Thank god you weren’t sleeping in it when it happened-although i bed that would make quite a story. Your blog always gives me itchy feet-I can’t get to Asia any faster! Damnit! Can everything just stay the same till August?

  8. Tom says:

    I fell into this trap your talking about in Bangkok and let a Tuk Tuk driver take me to a different restaurant. Well I didn’t really fall into it I knew what was going on I just didn’t have the energy to bother to argue I was tired, hot sweaty and very hungry

    To be fair I know he got his commission but it was actually one of the best meals I’ve ever had in Bangkok 🙂

    Crazy to think this hostel disappeared though, think Im going to have to make a trip here soon by the sounds of it!

  9. travelkate says:

    That’s insane! I guess this doesn’t do much for helping out some of what I used to consider irrational fears of buildings collapsing while I’m in them in lesser developed countries!

  10. ashley says:

    what?! i stayed there in november, and always felt like our room was swaying from left to right. my roommate said it was my imagination. before leaving, i had a feeling itll all go down, and it did! aww. thats too bad, it was a lovely place.

    thanks for sharing and yes i was randomly surfing the net and came across this. was in se asia for three months and loved it! <3

  11. megan says:

    yikes!
    the beginning of this post made me laugh – the same thing happened when I arrived in yangon. my friend and I refused to believe the taxi driver when he told us the hotel we wanted to go to was closed for renovations – ‘we have a booking’ we insisted. he was dubious, but we forced him to drive us there anyway…and yep, it was very, very closed. took us four guesthouses to find one that had space…oops. 😀

  12. Wayne says:

    Pretty cool…I’m jealous Kate! 😉

  13. Jeremy B says:

    Kate, first your guesthouse fall into the water and now you. What’s next? 🙂

  14. Amanda says:

    I was in PP for the first couple of day of August, and the lake is officially gone. I had been excited for it, but luckily I was staying with an old friend, so I didn’t miss out on the lodging opportunity.

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