Goodbye Vietnam, Hello Cambodia
Trip Start Mar 21, 2010
144Trip End Mar 16, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
We arrived at our bus depot and was waiting for our free pickup that our guesthouse arranged for us. No show, not happy waiting around in the scorching heat with our heavy backpacks it wasn't fun. We were hassled by tuk tuk drivers and were told that no-one will pick us up because they probably have gone home because as its Cambodia new year celebrations. Not believing them that they wouldn't turn up we waited around for a while
We walked around town, hardly any traffic was a relief and we had a late lunch/early dinner. We had delicious chicken spring rolls and pizza. The pizza was really nice, not like in Vietnam which made hard and crunchy ones, here in Phnom Penh they are actually very nice. We try to have traditional food as much as we can but sometimes its a nice change to have a little western food too.
We have already been pleasantly surprised with Cambodia. Firstly, all the locals that we have come across speak very good English and they seem more friendly here. The food we have had here so far has been fantastic just like in Hoi An. According to Lonely Planet Phnom Penh is supposed to be one of the top places for eating in Asia - we think its really good, so much better here than a lot of places we ate in Ho Chi Minh City and other parts of Vietnam
13 APRIL 2010 - We had breakfast in our guesthouse, a "Canadian Breaky" which had two eggs, buttered toast, fried potatoes, bacon and tea or OJ. It was so nice to have tea with normal milk (no condensed milk - woo hoo) and it went down well. Breaky was delicious and only US$4.50 each. After breaky we went for a walk to Wat Phnom, a temple which had beautiful surrounding gardens. Only tourists had to pay to get in, typical. We walked around the gardens and came across monkeys just roaming around and as soon as I went to take its photo, it looked at me and gave me a really funny look like to say "how dare you take a photo of me" seriously, I thought he was going to attack me so Mary does a quick detour, hate monkeys! There was a gorgeous elephant which you pay for elephant rides but he didn't mind having his photo taken, nice elephant. Ever since we have been here Mary has been getting a bit too much attention - we think its my camera, so we have been cautious. This guy was just standing in front of me and staring at me and my camera for sometime and I asked Troy to stare back at him, we were sitting next to a tourist policeman so we felt ok
Today has been the most hottest day ever, incredibly hot and we both have been feeling light headed so we made sure we drank heaps and stopped to have drinks at a cafe along the way to the Royal Palace. We got harrassed by tuk tuks a lot, one guy wouldn't give up on us, we told him plenty of times No Tuk tuk today. We should get t-shirts that say "No tuk tuk today".
We walked to the Royal Palace in the scorching heat only to be told its not open till the afternoon due to New Year celebrations. We walked to the National Museum where Mary felt very very hot and bothered and couldn't be bothered looking around. The heat was suffocating, at times it felt like Mary couldn't breathe properly, the heat was too much. After trying to cool down and drink water we walked around the museum. There was another lady in the foyer that was just lying on the seat, she was affected badly by the heat and they went back to their hotel. We spent several hours here because we didn't want to go back to our hotel and come back again. Mary takes a break and sits in the foyer waiting for Troy, thinks about Renee and tears start to roll, Its so hard, I miss her everyday, only Troy really understands.
At 2.30pm we walked to the Royal Palace. Its a big place. It had several gorgeous temples. Mary wasn't really up to seeing temples any more but now have changed my mind. They are just so different here. The Royal Palace was very ornate and Mary loved the gorgeous stupas (concrete statues that were very intricate). We went into the Silver Pagoda which was lovely, the floor was covered in silver tiles but most of it was covered to protect it
Troy was happy to get a photo with a monk and we probably paid too much for a tuk tuk home but we were exhausted, you got to bargain hard here. It was such a relief to be back at our guesthouse and had a cold shower and dinner in the guesthouse. Once again the food has been great. We had honey chicken wings, vegetable spring rolls which was delicious (so good to have really nice ones and once again they were different), Quesadilla and a chicken schnitzel sandwich. Most of it western food but tomorrow we will try some local cuisine. It is Cambodian New Year's Eve tonight but we are only interested in relaxing, its been an incredibly hot day for us
To be honest Mary too sure about visiting Cambodia, not a country I ever intended to visit but with Troy's influence on visiting Asia I am glad I came here. Mary had enough of temples in Vietnam and really wasn't interested in seeing any more. Once we arrived here and saw the gorgeous temples and pagodas I changed my mind. From what I have seen so far I have been rather impressed and hopefully we are in for more pleasant surprises here in Cambodia.
14 APRIL 2010 - "Happy New Year Cambodia". Today was hot but no way as bad as it was yesterday. After a delicious breakfast of banana pancakes at our guesthouse we booked our bus tickets to Siem Reap. We walked down the street and grabbed a tuk tuk (they really bump up there prices here a lot so you got to haggle these tuk tuk drivers). Mary purchased an expensive pair of fake Gucci sunnies for US$2 because I accidentally broke my good pair on the bus coming into Phnom Penh.
Unfortunately Cambodia has a dark side, its history. Our driver took us to Tuol Sleng Museum which originally was called Tuol Svay Prey High School. In 1975 Pol Pot's security forces turned the school into Security Prison 21 (S-21) the largest centre of detention and torture in the country. Almost everyone held here was later executed at the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. The rooms were covered with horrible photographs. This is where we each bought a traditional "krama" a versatile checked cotton scarf (like a huge tea towel really) which is worn by Cambodians on their heads, around their necks or around the midriffs, for blocking sun and dust. We paid 2 for US$5 (cheaper elsewhere but we couldn't be bothered getting it cheaper)
We tried to negotiate a price with a tuk tuk driver as they were overcharging us too much. So we kept walking and at one stage we had three tuk tuk drivers at once chasing us down the street wanting our business. Troy tried to set a price with one driver and I kept saying to Troy I don't think he has agreed on a price, sure enough he said yes and then said no so we left him. We still got chased and finally settled a better price with another driver. We told him to take us to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. As you walk in you see a blinding white stupa (religious momument) which is a memorial to the approximately 17,000 men, women and children who were executed here by the Khmer Rouge between mid 1975 and December 1978. Encased inside the stupa are almost 9,000 skulls which were found during the excavations here in 1980. It wasn't a pleasant sight to see so many skulls. We walked around the grounds and saw many mass burial sights, it was a peaceful place but it wasn't nice to see.
As we were getting driven home by our tuk tuk driver a group of young teenage kids were standing on the road and our driver had to slow down. They were yelling "Happy New Year" and were approaching us asking us for money. As we were holding on to our bag and camera tightly we hand signalled our driver to keep going, he listened to us and so we left
Tomorrow we take the bus to Siem Reap.