Finally some sun!

Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Fancy Guest House Phnom Penh
Read my review - 4/5 stars
What I did
See the beauty and the sad past of Cambodia

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The bus to Phnom Penh wasn't the most comfortable but 5 hour later we arrived and luckily the guesthouse was just a 50meter walk. The lovely Mr Phannak was waiting for us at the bus stop and took us to his guesthouse and checked us in.

Thursday morning we got up and surprise surprise the sun was out! We walked to the Royal Palace which is beautiful. It wasn't to busy so got to walk around, took some pictures and enjoyed the sun. The flag was out so the King was home!

On the grounds of the Royal Palace you can also visit the Silver Pagoda. The floor of this is silver but all is covered by carpet to protect the floor only about 3x3 meter is uncovered for show.

When we left we took a tuktuk to the The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This is a former high school which was used as the notorious Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the Khmer Rouge communist regime from its rise to power in 1975 to its fall in 1979. The Khmer Rouge tortured and murder over 20,000 people and you can still see the blood on the floor. They have pictures everywhere of people that were killed and of the Khmer prison staff. In one of the last rooms they even have skulls and bones displayed.. Reading this back it sounds so gruesome but surprisingly the place it self was very calm. When the Khmer Rouge regime fell there were only 7 people still alive of the prisoners and 1 of them was there to sign the book he had written so we bought the book and got him to sign it and took some photo's with him.

Friday started with good weather again and this morning we got picked up at 7.15 to go quad biking in the Cambodian Countryside, along a river and through some of the smaller villages to see how the county folk live and to go and see the Killing fields - This was very sad.

We started the tour with being shown how to ride a quad, accelerator, break and steering very easy. We went off with a guide and a mechanic and went through all sorts of villages, with all the local children running out of their houses shouting "Hello Hello" and wanting high fives (which Stu loved) - it was a lovely sunny day and got to see some of Cambodia we would not other wise of seen close up, lots of women working in the paddy fields, kids playing in the rivers and stray dogs!!!

About 3/4 of the way around one of the other ladies bikes broke down (the brakes failed!!) we had to stop, the mechanic was excellent and they just lifted the bike up and fixed it there and then.

We got back to the base to get cleaned up before we headed back out to the killing fields. Even though it was not that "extreme" and the path was actually quite dry, Stu still managed to find every muddy patch, puddle and dirty bit he could and (not) surprisingly got covered in mud!!

They took us in a tuktuk to the Killing Fields even though it was only about 200 meters down the street and we could of walked it. One of the group (a nurse) decided she didn't want to go to the killing fields as it was going to be to upsetting to see.

We got to the Killing Fields and were very lucky as they were trialing out a new audio narrative device for the day which was free and probably the most beneficial we could of had as it told us all about the fields and what went on.

The Killing Fields was a surreal place, very sad, this is were the prisoner from the S-21 prison we had visited the previous day were taken, killed and the buried in mass graves. All of this was done in secret, the villages surrounding the Killing Fields were told it was a private base which held meetings of some sort, in the night they played music loudly to drown out the cries of those being tortured and killed, they also did not use weapons, they didn't shoot people as the bullets were expensive, they had no actual weapons on the base either, instead they used farm tools such as spades, pitch forks and even the jagged edge of a palm leaf to cut peoples throats hmmmmm nice people the Khmer Rouge!!!

The most interesting and actually what makes this all real is that when it rains, bone fragments, teeth and clothes come to the surface of people that were killed and buried (see pictures), the staff go around pick them up and store them away.

The most sickening part of it all is that there was a tree called the killing tree. This is where they would grab the babies and small children by the leg and hit their head against the tree until the died, and would then just discard them in to the mass graves with their mothers watching, then kill the mothers!!!

This is a very important trip to make in Cambodia, all the Cambodian people want you to go and see this as it makes you realise what they went through and that it was not actually that long ago.

That evening we went to "Master Suki Soup" for dinner and then the Cinema - have to go to one in every country. Master Suki Soup was an experience! Basically you order your ingredients and then put it in a stock pot and make your own Soup (Jamima without the chefs basically). As we didn't really knew what to order we just randomly picked a few bits. When 2 ladies on the table next to us arrived and ordered their food we realised we had ordered a lot less than they had but even so it was pretty tasty!

We watched Johnny English - was not that good in all honesty but the 5 Cambodians really LOVED , I can't explain how much they loved it, but I'm sure the kid was going to explode!!!!!
The aircon was on full blast but rather than turning it down a bit they provide everyone with a blanket.

The next day we went to the Russian market, I don't know why they call it this as there were no Russians, prostitutes, vodka or fur coats on site, but we thought it was good any way. Turns out Stu is not that good at bartering and Cynth is very good (Stu: I think its because she is bossy ;-*) we bought a couple of things t-shirts etc nothing to exciting, then headed back in our tuktuk to the river front - oh no we bough a few amazing paintings that we will put up some where.

We had a lovely stroll on the river front with lots of locals doing there evening exercise and people actually cleaning themselves in the river, I think they made themselves dirtier as the river is not the cleanest!!! We found this shop where you could get massaged by a blind person, it was a little more expensive than normal but hey, how often do you get the chance to get massaged by someone who is blind, it was actually very good, relaxing and there no wondering hands :-)

After this we called it a night as we were up early the next day to head on to Koh Kong.

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