Dirty and depressing but that's me???

Trip Start Sep 19, 2012
Trip End Jul 22, 2014

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Sunday, November 3, 2013

3 November 2013

It's a long bumpy ride in a cramped mini van to Phnom Penh and it is dark by the time we arrive. I am not impressed with the first impressions as we drive into the city. It reminds me of some of the poor areas in India. The are small dark shops lining the road. Huge piles of rubbish everywhere and it just doesn't seem welcoming. It is a huge sprawling city clogged with people and traffic. After negotiating this area we come to the main centre which consists of three main boulevards that run parallel to the river. These are brightly lit with neon and there are plenty of bars, restaurants and hotels. There are masses of people and the roads are clogged with motorbikes, cars and people. It is total chaos. The guy in the mini van has given me a few tips on getting around. Intersecting the 3 main roads are hundreds of small roads and lanes that are all numbered. So he tells me it is quite easy to walk around. What he doesn't tell me that not all streets are consecutively numbered and some change number halfway along. Anyway I have an interesting walk to find my hotel and eventually after walking in a huge circle I find the place. The room stinks, the staff are unhelpful and so my first instincts are that I do not like Phnom Penh. Especially after walking around trying to find some dinner and realising that I am miles from anywhere.

The next morning I check out and find a much nicer place closer to the centre. The two main things that I would like to see here are the Killing Fields and S21 which was the infamous prison used by the Khmer Rouge. I spend the day walking around the city and am even more convinced that I do not like it. Maybe it is just me and I have been in Asia too long. As the saying goes here "same same but different". Maybe it's too much, rice, noodles and temples? But this city is filthy and I feel a bit depressed. As there is not much that I did here I will give you a quick history lesson are this troubled city that was made famous due to the atrocities associated with the Killing Fields.

In 1975 after years of civil war and with the help of the USA secretly bombing Cambodia the Khmer Rouge invade and capture Phnom Penh. Within 3 days they evacuated the city and all residents are forced into the country side to try and create an agricultural based communist society. Any educated people including teachers, doctors, religious leaders and ethnic minorities are tortured and killed. Money becomes worthless and the leaders ban family relationships. The Khmer rouge then start brain washing programs for the kids to follow the state and inform and spy on their parents. If parents try and pretend that they are uneducated parents their children are encouraged to turn them in.

After a few months a school is converted into the notorious S21 prison.This is an interrogation centre run by a man called Duch ( who is currently being tried in court) and between 1975 and 79 about 17000 people passed through this prison and were tortured to give "confessions" and then taken to the Killing Fields to be executed.

The Khmer Rouge seize all private property and force the people to work 12 hour days, mostly growing rice, but in terrible conditions. Hundreds or thousand starve and die due to the harsh conditions. In all an estimated 1.7 million people die or are killed due to Pol Pots' policies. They even attacked Vietnam where 30 000 citizens were killed. Finally in 1979 the war came to an end when Vietnam forces defeated the KR.

A tragic and brutal history that most of us can remember. I thought it would be interesting and poignant to visit these places but after a few depressing days in this dirty city I think I am not in the right frame of mind to be further depressed than I am. So I have decided to leave and head of to Vietnam. But even this doesn't happen as the bus fails to pick me up and I am forced to spend another day in this shithole.

Sorry that there are not many photos but I honestly didn't find anything of interest.
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simon storey on

Hey guss,

so glad to hear you are aive & kicking.

keep up the comms boet.

same old here in RSA. locals still restless.
time getting closer for me to go "walk about"
gona do Ireland again.

keep in contact ok boet.

safe travells.

keep well.

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