18.12.2010 - 20.12.2010 31 °C
After traveling 3 hours by boat through the Mekong, crossing the border to Cambodia, then another 4.5 hours on boat and an hour and a half by bus, we finally arrived in Phnom Penh, the country’s capital city. We were pleasantly surprised when we got there; I guess not having any expectations helped. Phnom Penh was much more built up and modern than we thought it would be.
Our first day was fairly depressing as we learned all about Cambodia’s history. We hired a “tuk tuk” (a motorcycle pulling a little trolly that you sit in) for the day, who took us to all the attractions. It was very cheap and quite fun to ride in! Our first stop was the Killing Fields, where an estimated 20,000 Cambodians were massacred during their leader Pol Pot’s regime from 1975-1979. To summarize, Pol Pot lead the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian revolutionary movement, to transform Cambodia into a giant peasant dominated nation. This means that all professionals, intellectuals, foreigners, teachers, and their entire families were systematically wiped out. Even something as simple as having glasses was enough to get you killed. The goal was basically to create a slave labour society where people did not question leadership and merely did as they were told. It is thought that two million people (one fourth of the population) were killed. Needless to say, it was a horrible atrocity and very sad and infuriating to learn about.
the sign just before you enter the mausoleum monument which holds the remains of many of the deceased
to this day, clothing and more remains surface when it rains
As another part to the Killing Fields, we visited Tuol Sleng (S-21 Prison), a former elementary and high school that was converted into one of the prisons where people were detained and tortured before being murdered by the Khmer Rouge. Out of the thousands and thousands of people who were kept at the prison, only seven survived. They basically let you roam free everywhere we visit, so it was particularly haunting to go though the cells and imagine what these people went through.
After a very sombre afternoon, we also visited the Russian Market, a place where we got some very real knock-offs as well as actual real brand names for ridiculous prices. Unfortunately, these places are like furnaces, and we all know how well George does in heat. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “I’m so hot right now. I’m drenched. I can’t stop sweating. So much for my clean shirt.” You would think he’d be used to it by now??? We also headed down to the waterfront and went to the night market where we bought some food and ate with many locals sitting on the ground on mats. That moment was somewhat ruined by a huge bug that flew directly into my face. I eventually got over it though. The prices are so cheap that we try everything we can, like sugarcane juice (25 cents), although that one we didn’t really like.
our sweet ride
waterfront area (where George is a little cooler)
when in Rome...
So another city that absolutely surprised us. A lovely place that both of us really enjoyed. Next on the list – Siem Riep and Angkor Wat!