Phnom Penh its hot....!!

Trip Start Feb 28, 2012
Trip End Nov 22, 2012

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 2 in the big brother SE Asia house…

Its midday, I am sat in my guesthouse reception porch which is like a café front, having a coffee and trying unsuccessfully to connect to the internet. The coffee here is great, so strong and the cream is like a slightly translucent thick syrup so when you mix it in the coffee it turns it sweet and milky but stays really dark… whatever it is, it's a good way to start the day and today that day started at 11:44am! I cant believe I slept until then with all the noise you hear from the street in a morning but last night myself and Steve went to a few bars and probably drank about 9 or 10 pints! I keep saying I aren’t gonna drink but in this heat the beers go down so well at night time and plus they are 75 cents each which is less than 50p! I am staying here one more day and then heading north to the north east corner of Cambodia to Ratakaniri where you can swim in a volcanic crater lake! I was going to go today but the bus went at 7:15am and there is only one bus – should have checked that yesterday!

Phnom Penh is a great place though and the guesthouse I am at is good too, the room is basic and the fan doesn’t do much and I am wondering whether I will need air con rooms in Cambodia because its just so hot, I had only been sat here about half an hour and I can feel me sweating already just doing nothing. A little friend has just scuttled by and reminded me that you see a lot of my little friend in the streets here…. Rats!!  Its not that unclean a place but the pavements are mainly unwalkable because everyones property fills them, plus there are loads of cooking stands there and all their rubbish too so its probably a rats heaven there but occasionally can be sat having a coffee or a beer and out of the corner of your eye you see a flash and sometimes see them stop and they are big, one yesterday was as big as a cat!

So yesterday I speak to steve and we both want to go see the Killing Fields and the War Museum too so we speak to Lee who works at the guesthouse (I do like that guys name) and he says he will take us to the post office, where I need to go, then the chemist for Steve, a Canadia bank which is the only one which doesn’t charge for withdrawels here, then about 20km to the Killing Fields and wait around an hour or 2 and then take us to the war museum back nearer to home about 6km away; all this for $16 but because I went with Steve we split it so $8 dollars each, about 5 quid…

The Killing Fields and Museum were amazing but also upsetting too, I have never seen anything like it before, it was quite disturbing, I took a pic when I arrived but after that it just didn’t seem right – I had only seen the Killing Fields film to know the bits I knew about what happened but now I know more and what I saw of what happened is terrible, witnessing first hand the aftermath of the genocide that happened here is hard to explain but I actually felt pretty sick by the end which surprised me really but then again didn’t after seeing the main monument which hold loads of human skulls and a pile of clothing from the victims, then the huge human graves which aren’t even all excavated, the tree’s used for torturing and throwing babies in to!, gallows and huge ceramic buckets used for hanging and water dunking/torturing prisoners in, the museum which shows the blunt hoe’s, axes, ropes and other tools used to beat, torture and kill prisoners but almost worst of all was the museum after which was infact an old school which the khmer Rouge, who were created and run by Pol Pot who I am sure you have heard of, had converted to a torture prison where people were tortured for information and either killed or then sent to the Killing Fields…. This museum showed all the methods of torture but the worst part was you could go in to every room which were torture cells and all there was in there was a rusted metal frame bed and on the wall a photo of the victim found on the bed when the Vietnamese liberated Cambodia and outed the Khmer Rouge and these victims were killed and left chained to the bed…. The images were horrific and these images were only matched by the hundreds of photos of not only loads of Cambodian prisoners who had been killed there, these were categorised 'mug shots’ on their arrival, but also photos of many people either tortured and still alive of dead in hallways, on floors, in beds…. Like I say I have never seen anything like it or anything to upset me so much…. I am not sure of the final figures killed in the camps and torture centres, I saw a figure of 10,000 but I think it was probably much more as it was over a 2-3 year period. So needless to say it was a hard experience but I am glad I saw and know about it now but at the same  time glad to get it out of the way too. There are lots of Cambodians here with no legs, arms or both and a lot disfigured of burned all from undiscovered land mines from the war here left by the Khymer Rouge and scarily they still exist in places too. So try walk around Phnom Penh, supping a coke, maybe camera in hand and a guy in a wheel chair with legs that only come to above his knees and he is trying to sell books for maybe 3 or 5 dollars and so no….. There’s also kids begging and some very poor people around; its hard to say no.

So I wanted to go this morning but missed the bus so tomorrow I get the bus at 7:15am to Ratakaniri in the north east corner and I think Steve is gonna get the same bus but go a slightly different route. I have enjoyed time with him here and we are gonna meet up periodically as we are roughly doing the same route. My lovely sis Del commented on my site that I might bike up Vietnam with him which he did talk about maybe doing but I want to do that trip myself, I like some company but I like to do my own thing too and will enjoy that trip and meeting new people too. We'll see. Oh and Del, you also asked what a phalang was, well, in Thailand its not what you thought! but infact yes, a westerner, or white guy and i think its a general term but maybe slightly derogotary (is that how you spell that?!) term too.... i am going to find out from Lee, our host, tonight what the cambodian equivalent is as its handy when locals speak about you and you here that word, you can look at them as though you understand them and i love to see the look on their faces like they have been caught out!

So tonight we are both gonna go to The Russian Market, nicknamed that as the Russian’s had some influence here back in the 50’s and 60’s I think over the area and maybe built the market. I need a new knife for cutting my fruit and Steve needs a hat so we’ll eat there and have a look round and then go for a few beers. We had a few last night and I have a pic of Steve so will upload it.

By the way it is still hot, hot, hot here…. Almost 40 degrees today but you just cant move in this heat but strangely I like it, its right up my street… I am still pretty white really as the sun cream I brought is factor 30 and lower factors are more expensive here, almost 10 quid a small bottle but in this heat I think its wise to stay as I am and tan at a rate of 0.01% per month…..

I hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine back home and you are all well too… Love to all – Lee…xx
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carrie on

Ooooooooooooo, the Killing Fields sounds soooooooooooo sad, wonder you have been able to sleep nights afterwards. Remembering your old student digs though, i shouldn't think the rat brigade are too unfamiliar haha. You new bruiser bud sounds an interesting guy, will be good for you to meet up with him later and compare adventures ....... certainly sounds like you're having plenty! Love n hugs xxxxxx

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