Phnom Penh is the metropolis of Cambodia
– Travelling from Siem reap to Phnom Penh we decided to take the cheap bus which was quoted at taking 5 – 6 hours. We arrived at the bus station at 12 and the bus did not leave for another hour and a half and then made various different stops before it finally got on its way.
It was the paramount service and had a toilet that was about 4’8 in height and consisted of two large buckets with a sign saying urinate only, The bus was caring lots of rice and supplies for the locals and also 4 scooters being transported on the lower decks.
The bus stopped in a service station for around half an hour but the food did not look to great here so we ha a drink and a smoke and a quick use of a non hobbit sized toilet. We finally arrived in Phnom Penh at around 9.00pm very tired from doing bugger all and very interested in finding out if our chosen hostel had any rooms.
The first place we tried was Top Banana which was all full then we tried blue dog which had a triple room. At this stage I was travelling with Californian couple Chad and Gabrielle so we decided it was no problem getting a triple room which was actually very cheap at 5 dollars each.
We stayed at the blue dog for one night and then headed to the Mad monkey which was just around the corner, Chad & Gabbi had booked this second night at the Mad monkey so they had a room but I had not done the same so had to go back to the blue dog and grab a double room with en suite which set me back 15 dollars per night for two nights.
The next day we went and had lunch in a nice restaurant by the river but this whole riverside area, although nice – was a little on the pricey side. It is really easy to notice than you can get a bargain in Cambodia but you can also pay through the nose so it is worth asking about for good recommendations on cheap food if you are on a budget.
After lunch we took a tuk tuk to the killing fields and proceeded to walk around and listen to the audio guide. I won’t go into the details of this too much because everyone has their own take on what happened and we all know it was an extremely tragic loss of life / mass extermination.
I think everyone who visits this place will shed at least one tear and the place where most people were crying was around the killing tree. After going inside the monument and seeing the thousands of skulls we took our taxi back to S21 which was in the city nearer our hostels. As soon as we arrived and got off the tuk tuk we were greeted by two disfigured beggars, both of which had extreme fascial burns.
We paid two dollars to get into the S-21 museum and we did not have a guie so were free to walk around the rooms to inspect the area where the most brutal killing and torture had taken place.
There were many images of the torture and violence on the walls and original beds and chains were left intact in the rooms as a reminder for all to see that this countries gruesome history was only a few years into the past.
The biggest shock came in the first block on the third floor where the very last room has nothing in it except a floor covered in bloodstains where you can make out body shapes and footprints still stained into the parquet flooring 25 years later.
The Khmer Rouge catalogued all of the prisoners who were sent here and over 22000 of them were killed and tortured in the most inhumane practice which hugely violated the Geneva convention and 2 other international laws.
The Khmer rouge were in power for just under 4 years and the international community shockingly continued to recognize them as the central power and appropriate representation for the of Cambodia through this time and also for a period afterward.
After a day spent seeing these crucial sites we went back to the backpacker district and went out for drinks and beers. This evening we also met a girl Vlada who was half French and half Russian and also three Australian chaps who we went out and partied with.
The next day we all had buses from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville to catch at various different times and all with hangovers in hand we all made our way to sihanoukville to take the party to the beaches of Cambodia.