Phnom Penh has a huge amount of markets that cater to tourists, locals and expats alike. Mick and I are lucky enough to live directly across from a small local market so we have easy access to fresh fruit and veg, meats, plastic containers, makeup, socks, soup and coffee. But if we are in need of more things, more selection of things such as fabrics, fans, brooms, electrical items, machetes, bulk seafood or clothes, then we have to head further afield. Orussey Market (P’saa Orúsee) is a huge market located about a 5 min tuk tuk ride away from ours and offers everything and then some all in a convenient multi-story building that is surrounded by food vendors and tuk tuks.
Mick was the first of us to venture there on a boys day with a couple of other volunteers. He sent me an excited text saying that I would love it there and it reminded him of a ginormous G’kad Luang (Chinese Markets) in Chiang Mai. That got me very interested as I loved wandering around the markets in Chiang Mai amongst it all, finding “treasures” and “snackz” and everything else.
As we had just moved into our new home, it was time to go get things for the house like kitchen things, bedroom things and anything else we thought looked cool. On arriving it was apparent that this place was massive. For someone who has never done Asian-style markets, this place would probably be pretty overwhelming. There’s the “wet market” section which is a polite euphemism for the butchery-blood-guts area that has everything from pigs heads to bags of congealed blood to live chickens on the ground. But these markets are also the freshest place to buy your meat from so don’t shun them for a piece of perfectly formed, plastic wrapped, unknown meat from a supermarket. The meat in Asian markets are generally from animals slaughtered that day and are offered for sale without any preservatives so if you do get meat here, it has to be cooked the same day.
The wet market also will have seafood and the selection in Orussey was impressive. Mud crabs, prawns, squids of all shapes and sizes, gorgeous looking fresh fish and perhaps some kind of mini shark, mussels, clams and things that just looked yummy. Prices were very reasonable and all the produce I saw was super fresh – unfortunately we didn’t get any this day but I will definitely go back to get some for a bbq or perhaps a tom yum soup.
Orussey also offered up a very large section of dried food products, in particular the very pungent offerings of dried fish and prawns. A lot of westerners find these items revolting and gag-inducing but they are all part of the charm in my opinion. I probably wouldn’t go and shove a fly-covered semi-dried mackerel into my gob, but I have probably eaten things that have the meat in it!
The mezzanine and top floor of the market offers all things clothing and fabric related. Glitzy dresses for weddings, tailor-made shirts, cheap t-shirts, kids clothing, undies, reams of fabric of every kind, beads and buttons galore, handbags, shoes and phone cases. Imagine an item of clothing and it will be there, find any kind of thong or plastic shoe and iphone cases are in abundance, especially those featuring cute cartoons or sequins.
Its definitely a market that I think we will spend more time getting acquainted with and I can see many items purchased here. Its worth a look if you are in town but be warned, its not very tourist-friendly so unless you know the Khmer numbering system you may struggle. If all else fails, take a calculator (or buy one there!) and a finger ready to point!
Orussey Market – Street 182 and Street 141