Travel Story «Phnom Penh - Royal Visit»
27 March 2006
Last Update 12 April 2006
In the searing mid-day heat we all said our good byes to Siem Riep and headed off on the ickiest bus to the capital Phnom Penh - sweating all the way - with the now obligatory stops at the drivers first cousins/in-laws restaurants along the way. We arrived that evening to the absolute mentalness of about 30/40 tuk-tuk drivers vying for our attention!! We eventually picked one - or more like he picked us by grabbing Emilys bag and off we went to our lodgings - Lakeside Guesthouse - @ $2 a night bargain!!
An early start the next morning to go visit the Killing Fields just outside the city:
In Cambodia, nine miles (14.5 kilometers) from Phnom Penh, the "killing fields" of Choeung Ek have become a tourist attraction, horrifying and fascinating. Choeung Ek is one of thousands of other such sites around the country where the Khmer Rouge practiced genocide during the late 1970s.
The killing fields document death. From 1975 to 1979, Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge soldiers killed 1.7 million Cambodians, or 21 percent of the population.
A soccer-field-sized area surrounded by farmland, the killing fields contain mass graves, slightly sunken, for perhaps 20,000 Cambodians, many of whom were tortured before being killed. The bordering trees held nooses for hangings.
Hundreds of Cambodians now make a living by guiding visitors through the killing fields and other genocide-related sites. Many guides tell harrowing personal stories of how they survived the Khmer Rouge, often by becoming refugees in Thailand.
Guides explain that bullets were too precious to use for executions. Axes, knives and bamboo sticks were far more common. As for children, their murderers simply battered them against trees.
As you can imagine - this was unbelievably sad. We didn't take any photos or talk much while we were there.
We then headed back to town on our tuk tuks which took quite a while due to the muck (it had been raining earlier) but we passed the time by perfecting our waves to the Cambodian people who are just facinated with us and are really friendly waving all the time - especially the (absolutely adorable) children!!
That evening (after bumping into an work colleague on street - such a small world!!!) we visited Teul Slong museum or S-21. This used to be a school but during Pol Pots rule it was used as a prison. Here we got a tour of different rooms - many used for torture during questioning and mass detainment. Looking at hundreds of different mugshots of prisoners of all ages and of Khmer Rouge soldiers (many killed also) we all found it hard to understand how such an atrocity could have occured so recently.
Afterwards, we headed back to our guesthouse on Cambodias version of Khao San road and chillaxed for the night.
On our second day in Phnom Penh we decided to give the man himself a visit - King Norodom Sihanouk - in his royal palace. And maybe check out his film-making skills for ourselves. But alas we were refused entry due to unsuitable attire! Emily has become very fond of her micro-mini skirts and low cut tops this side of the world. She says it's the heat - I'm not so sure!! Anyhow we visited the national museum instead and had a very lovely guide show us around. Unfortunately she was really difficult to understand so "Grainne the Interpretor" was mobilised yet again!
That evening we split up - gra and em went for swim in nearby hotels pool. I busied myself getting albums uploaded to MP3 (only 75c each - another bargain!!) and Lorna went on internet and relaxed (poor girl not feeling the best!). Early night as another 5am start (cannot believe how used to these I have become!!). Then we headed to Vietnam in pure luxury as Emily has already described .....
31 March 2006
Last Update 03 December 2010
24 March 2006
Last Update 24 March 2006