A three-level building with western-style decor houses Playroom Cambodia, a newly established ultimate indoor entertainment centre in Toul Kork district featuring axe throwing and archery for those seeking a unique sporting experience.
Each of the three double axe-throwing lanes has two sharpened axes biting into a log in front of it and standing ready to be tossed by axe-throwers at a wooden target board with markings indicating points scored similar to a dart board.
Playroom Cambodia patron Ah Phea almost lost interest after her first few attempts when she missed the target and her axe just landed on the ground, but once she got an understanding of the rules and the proper throwing technique she started doing better.
“It’s hard when you don’t know the technique. But when you know how to throw the axe properly that makes it fun,” says Phea, 24.
She was trying out axe-throwing after spending some time at the archery lanes located on the ground floor.
“With archery, it’s interesting, but I kept making mistakes that hurt my arm when I didn’t hold the bow right way,” she says.
Both the archery and the axe-throwing require that players attend an instruction session for a few minutes first and receive a briefing about the safety rules before they’re allowed to proceed.
Listening carefully to the briefing session conducted by a Playroom staff instructor, Ou Seng Hour says he felt nervous and was hesitant to lift the bow up from its stand given that it can potentially be a dangerous weapon.
“This is my first time attempting archery. I feel a bit scared because I am afraid that if it slips out of my hand or something I could hurt myself or somebody else,” says Hour, a student who was there looking for some fun with friends after work.
“Once I shot a few arrows I started enjoying it though and now we’re going to start another game,” Hour tells The Post.
Playroom Cambodia’s sporting fun isn’t cheap. Axe-throwing costs $15 per hour and each set of 25 arrows for archery is $5 – and most people can manage to fire off 25 shots quicker than you might think.
The archery hall is located at the back of the ground floor and those who pay attention to their surroundings on the way back there may notice a few impressive things along the way.
Hanging on the walls are more axes and Thor’s hammer of thunder Mjölnir as well as swords and shields galore – all of them just waiting to be used as props for those who love taking eclectic and odd selfies.
There are also numerous board games displayed on the Playroom’s shelves waiting for patrons to pick up and go head to head playing against friends in order to conquer any possible remaining hints of boredom as they sip their drinks there.
“We want to create a place that feels like home. A place where our clients can come and relax, have fun, laugh and spend time experiencing new things and being more active at the same time,” says Michael Chhang, owner of Playroom Cambodia.
Chhang was born in France and studied and worked in Australia for ten years before coming back to the homeland his parents had fled from due to the civil war.
“My family fled from the Khmer Rouge to France as refugees. My grandparents and family used to live and trade near Phsar Thmei but they went to France to start a new life there.
“However, my father came back to our home country many years ago. That is also the reason why I decided to come here and see what I could bring to Cambodia from my previous experiences,” says Chhang.
Chhang points out the various activities available at the centre such as the afforementioned archery, board games and axe-throwing – but there is also a mix of football and pool called foot-pool as well as traditional pool tables and the college frat-party favourite beer pong.
He said that customers can also just relax and enjoy Playroom Cambodia’s great food and drinks from the combo cafe, restaurant and bar on each floor.
At a soft opening earlier this month, Chhang noticed that there were groups of friends, families and even couples in attendance. A lot of them wanted to try everything, but archery got the most interest, he says.
“People used to do archery in Siem Reap at this indoor archery range in the city centre where it was really convenient and now we have something like that again here in the capital. We have eight lanes for eight people to shoot at once. For $5 people receive a set of 25 arrows and they get a safety briefing and instructions on how to shoot from a staff member who also can suggest games to play,” says Chhang’s wife, Cheeny.
Dressed in a black t-shirt and dark red shorts with long socks, Menea – an instructor at the archery court – explains safety procedures and helps people into their safety equipment before introducing them to the weapons.
Menea – who is also a university student – tells patrons that when she blows her whistle once the amateur archers can release their strings but if she blows her whistle three times everyone must stop shooting due to a safety infraction.
Chhang says that the safety of the guests is his number one priority and he’s made all of the activities as safe as possible by implementing international standards wherever they apply.
“We’ve even invested money into extra safety features that many other places overseas do not have and because we also sell alcohol we have a strict policy of ‘play first, drink later’.”
At the Playroom the bows are modern and of the same standard used at the Olympic Games. There are three different sizes of bows to accommodate children, women and men.
“We don’t want our customers to have a bad experience because it’s supposed to be fun. We’ve just been open for only one week and there are some people who are coming every day. They shoot 300 arrows and stay two or three hours.
“Maybe they’re training for the Olympics? Who knows! But it’s a good start. A lot of families come on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I think they want to have time to hang out and eat and have fun with their kids as well,” he says.
With an experienced kitchen team and a head chef who has worked at five star hotels in the past the Playroom menu has international dishes as well as excellent local Khmer dishes.
“Try his skewers, they are great! We also have affordable lunch sets for busy office workers,” he says.
Phen Lyna is a Playroom patron who spends her free time after work enjoying some exercise and physical activity and she says she likes “foot-pool” because it combines the skills used to play football like kicking the ball accurately with the rules and strategy of pool.
“It makes it fun since I can be on the pitch and kick the ball like I’m playing football,” she says, “most importantly, I get a lot of likes on Facebook and people ask me where I am.”
Chhang says that foot-pool is played in Europe, Taiwan, China, the US and the UK. The Playroom price is $12.00 per hour.
“Foot-pool is safe for people to play and enjoy drinks at the same time so it’s proving to be quite popular,” he says.
The Playroom Cambodia is located at #9 St 287 in Khan Tuol Kork in Phnom Penh – roughly 500m from the Tuol Kork antenna. It is open daily from 11:00am to midnight.
For more details call 070 30 25 25 or visit their Facebook page: @theplayroomkh