Trip Start Sep 19, 2010
54Trip End Sep 19, 2011
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Pnom Penh ( pronounced NOM PEN ) is the Capital of Cambodia, and Cambodia is one of the three countries that made up French Indochina. The other two being Vietnam and Laos. Like most other countries in Asia, Cambodia seems to be on the way up. There is no shortage of Lexus 4x4s out there. It seems to me that Europe and the States have had their good times, but are now bogged down with greed and debt. On the other hand Asia is getting stronger and stronger and I believe that within my lifetime we will be the underdogs of all these hard working nations
After the order and good driving practices of Malaysia, Pnom Penh ( PP ) is the complete opposite. There really are no "rules of the road" here. You just do what you want. Like drive on the wrong side of the road into on coming traffic. The strange thing is know-one cares less!! Add to this that most of the traffic are motorbikes and you have anarchy, you get the picture.
We arrived late in the afternoon so after checking into the hotel we ate and had an early night. The weather here I am relieved to say is cooler and less humid than Malaysia. The majority of the people in Cambodia are Khmer. More Oriental than Malays.
The next morning we jumped in a Tuk Tuk and headed to the killing Fields 15 Km outside PP. I feel i should give you a little background info so you can understand what the Killing Fields are. On the 17Th of April 1975 PP fell to the Khmer Rouge after a 5 year war against the Cambodian Government. The Khmer Rouge ( KR ) were a Communist party of the most extreme kind. Within hours of taking the city they started to evacuate all the civilians to the countryside. In three days the Capital was deserted, all three million of them. The banks were emptied and all the money thrown into the streets. In this new Communist Utopia money had no meaning and the people were to work the land and have no material belongings and live happily ever after
So they took these undesirables and tortured them until they gave up names of other undesirables. Then they were carted off to the Killing fields to be beaten, hacked or stabbed to death and thrown into mass graves. Bullets were to precious to waste!! After 4 years of this routine, over three million Cambodians were murdered. The West turned a blind eye. It was only stopped when Vietnam invaded in order to stop the horror.
The first thing you see on entering the place is a tall monument, as you get closer you start to see that within the glass front of the monument is tear after tear of skulls and bones Thousands of them!! We then walked around the Pock marked fields. There was so many pits, these were the mass graves that had been exhumed. They have not dug up all the mass graves and here you can see bones and scraps of clothing sticking out of the soil. Dotted around the site were signs telling you what had happened in certain places, like a tree they used to kill babies and small children on by swinging them by their feet and smashing their heads on the tree. All for the Communist ideal. Tell someone in the UK your a fascist and they will spit in your face. Tell them your a Communist and they wouldn't blink an eye. Strange but the Commies must have killed a hundred million more than all the fascists put together. You'll have to excuse my Political rants. All in all a nasty place but most interesting and humbling.
The next day was Cathy's Birthday so I took her to see S21. S21 was the KR main jail in PP. Jail is probably not the right word, torture centre is more fitting
That night I took Cathy out for Dinner, she chose a Chinese place. We went in and sat down and ordered a drink. It was then that we studied the Menu !! Well it wasn't the same as you would expect to see on a Chinese menu in Ripon. The one that stuck in my head and made us both laugh out load was : FRIED SWAMP CABBAGE AND CHICKEN ENTRAILS............mmmmm tasty!! Cathy and I could find nothing on the whole Menu that we could eat.!! I had the horrible job of telling the waitress that we didn't want to eat there. We found a great place down the road and I had Fish and chips and Cathy had a Thai green curry. In the absence of mushy peas I asked if they did SWAMP CABBAGE but they did not I'm afraid.
Over the next couple of days we have wandered around the city. Taking it easy as usual. Oh and we had our first glimpse of the Mighty Mekong river. We are going to see a lot more of this river over the next month travelling up through Cambodia and Laos. We are going to Siem Reap in the morning and from there I will add the pictures for this blog as its getting late and the Internet connection here is real bad.