Today was another early start for us, but a bit later than yesterday as we didn’t have to get up till 6am, but seeing as we were in bed by 8.30pm the night before, this wasn’t an issue. We packed up and headed down to a local restaurant for lunch which Jay our tour guide had suggested, and it was decent enough. We then headed back to the hotel to catch our bus, as today we were heading to the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, which was a 4 hour bus ride away.
The bus was decent again, and the roads not as bad as yesterday, and only an hour into the trip we were already having our first toilet break. This pit stop was a bit nicer also than the one from yesterday, and most of us bought some local made chips, either banana, taro, or sweet potato. Before long though we were back on the road again with another 75kms to go until we hit the capital.
The outskirts of the city felt like every other town we had been in so far in Cambodia, but it wasn’t till we got to the city that we stared to see the real differences, from the flash cars to the few skyscrapers that decorated the landscape. The traffic was pretty busy, but still nothing like Bangkok, and when we go to our hotel we had our bags taken inside and we got out room keys. We were on the 6th floor of a 7 story building, and it didn’t have a lift, so we had bag carries take our bags to the top, but even taking our own day bags up was a bit of a mission
The room was nice, and had the usual things we have come to expect, from the shower being part of the bathroom, average air con, and the complimentary water we have come so used to getting. One thing we were worried about was the water coming over here, but bottled water is everywhere, so much so you even find yourself turning free ones down as you already have too much. So a word of advice, bring water cleaning tablets for your own drink bottles, but don’t worry about bottled water, as you can buy that from the flashiest of stores, to the cheapest of road markets.
Once we had checked in and relaxed for a bit, we all headed off for lunch at a nice restaurant, and even though they stuffed up a few drink orders, and one meal order, which was actually partly my fault, all up it was really good. We then went back to the hotel and got on our tour bus, as we were about to partake in one of the harder moments of the trip, and that was seeing and learning about the history of the Khmer Rouge.
We had a great local tour guide for this called Lucky, who himself had lost his grandparents to the death camps and three brothers to starvation and disease during those terrible years of 75 to 79, and he nearly had me in tears in just the bus ride to the Killing Fields. Once at the Killing Fields we were taken through an hour tour and he recounted many harrowing stories of what went on there as well as more of what happened on the lead up to it all, and though I’ve seen documentaries about it, seeing it and hearing it directly is another kettle of fish.
Once that part of the tour was over we headed back into town to see S21, which is the infamous death camp in the city centre, where 17,000 people were processed, with every single one, bar 7, killed there. Here we saw cells left exactly as they were from those times, so we could see exactly how these people were kept, and there were countless photos on the wall of all the people that were killed, as well as photos of the people who worked there, some of which were the killers and torturers.
As we were walking through we also saw and old man behind a desk filled with books, and we found out this was actually one of the seven people who survived this death camp and he was there signing and selling his book. He’s 84 and only one of the two living survivors of the seven, and it was very humbling seeing this man in the flesh and him showing us his deformed finger they broke and large toe nail they ripped out through torture. I bought his book, and another one about the Killing Fields, and myself and Mollidy got photos with him, and all up it was a very surreal moment that rounded off that day which was immersed in so much sadness about what the world and its people are capable of.
After that we headed back to the hotel and got there around 6pm and we had a free evening to ourselves, and as Mollidy and myself were pretty hungry by then, we headed right off to find somewhere to eat. We walked a few hundred meters down the road and found a nice little place, and we had a nice enough meal and relaxing evening to try and mentally recover from the days events.
During the meal though we had people come up and beg and try to sell us things, and we’ve both become very good at ignoring them or waving them away, but I had a monk come up to me and ask for money, and it threw me so much that I didn’t know what to do, so I gave him money. We had a bit of a laugh afterwards as Mollidy could see it threw me, and I knew he could easily not have been a monk and it was just his scam, but I still felt like I needed to do it, though I may not do it again.
We then headed back to the hotel to shower up and relax a bit more, and though we had a free morning the next day so no alarm needed, we found ourselves very tired, and by 9pm we were ready for sleep. Sadly the air con was a bit average, and there was a fan as well, so we had both cranked up, but it was still decently hot, which is where our bed sheets came in very handy. They are basically like sleeping bags but made of sheet material, and for the hot nights they work wonders, so this is a must buy for anyone looking to travel in hot countries, or where you don’t fully trust if the bed has bugs or not.
One thing I wanted to talk about in today’s post might be a bit odd. But it’s something you’ll notice a lot, and that’s all the dogs around and the constant sex you keep seeing them have. In fact you get so used to the behaviour that you can tell it’s about to all take place way before it actually does, and if you happen to leave your gaze on the for too long, you’ll more often than not have your suspicions confirmed with another dog mounting another. Honestly, it happens so often!