In Phnom Penh still
Phnom Penh Travel Blog› entry 24 of 26 › view all entries
My first day in Phnom Penh i attempted to walk to the tourist sites on my own...think more effort than not though as asked constantly all the way to the centre whether i would like a ride etc......And the heat is definitely way to intense here for walking but i persevered, making my way to see the Wat Phnom...lots of people staring at me as usual...lots of beggars here too though, with limbs missing. I then made it to the riverside and made it down to the National Museum....housed in such a lovely building, red terracota colour. Lots of buddha statues etc. I then tried to get into see the Royal Palace but not allowed in cause I was showing my arms (shawl round them no good) so went back over to the river to try and catch a bit of a breeze and then sat in the Frog and Lettuce bar for a happy hour bit of the Anchor Beer they serve here. Then decided i couldn't face the walk back to got a moto for $1. Met up with a Cambodian driver from 'Same Same Guest house' called Mr Bea who offered to take me to a 'local' Camboidan restaurant with his friends and then on to a nightclub with lots of prostitutes and white guys there :-(/. The next day I relaxed on one of the stilt bars overlooking the lake, but so hot I made my way to the swimming pool to cool down (not quite as dirty or dangerous as the Vietnamese one). After that I arranged with Mr B to be my driver, taking me to the sites of the Khmer Rouge legacy or 'Death Tour' as an Australian guy i met called it. First to the Tuol Sleng Museum - this used to be a school but in 1975 Pol Pot's security forced turned it into Security Prison - the largest centre of detention and torture - whilst from the outside it still looks like a school, inside there are a series of rooms with a steel bed in and a foot clamp, nothing else other thatn a huge photo on the wall showing a terrible scene of someone who had obviously been tortured/starving to death on the bed. You then move round to other buildings full of photos of the people brought to the prison and killed (over 100 a day to begin with) and the chair where the people were photographed when first arriving. Upstairs were little cells made out of bricks on the first level with each classroom a whole knocked through as a door to the next and then the floor above were wooden cells. So badly made and looked like they'd been made so quickly. And then on to the final building where there were paintings by one of the seven only people to have survived being in the prison - of scenes of how they tortured people, sculls in glass cabinets showing bullet wounds or where they'd been blugened to death. There were then a series of photos of Khmer Rouge soldiers/workers who had survived. We then went on to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek - a bit outside the centre of Phnom Penh....first confronted by a huge stupa that serves as a memorial to the 17 000 people killed. The stupa has shelves full of sculls of the people killed, grouped together by age, and then at the very bottom a pile of clothes from the people who had been killed. I walked round the site, looking at the many holes in the ground - quite suprised how small they were - may have filled with mud over the years. Saw a tree that was used to beat children to death and then another where they used to hang large speakers playing revolutionary songs to drown out the sound of screams etc....there were also still clothes poking out the ground in the field...still there after over 20 years. We then went to a little shack nearby, which sold dog to eat - chunks cooked in a huge pot this time with large ants as well (not sure if they were supposed to be there or not?) -Mr b bought some to take back for his customers....we then went back to town and to a buffet restuarant, frequented by local Cambodians. To eat we had to get a plate of sea food and veg and then another plate with raw meat...we then went back to the table, where the waitresses had placed a gas cooker for us to cook some green veg and the meat (they constantly came round with the broth/soup stuff to cook more of the mushrooms and veg). Quite a tasty meal, but little did I know that I had got food poisoning and have a awful night being severely ill..urgh, the whole next day was a right off as well. When finally recovered on the Saturday Mr b offered to taking me to his family's house in the province next to the boarder with Vietnam...thought it would be an experience so we went and got a taxi from the centre of Phnom Penh by the market...negotiating in cambodian for a taxi. We got in one with 5 other passengers plus the driver - so 8 people in the car! Couldn't believe it - the driver shared his seat with one of the passengers!!!!! Went in the direction 2 hours back along the road i'd come from Vietnam, on the ferry again and then dropped at the side of the road where we walked a little way to a wooden house on stilts. All of Mr B's relatives were already there when we arrived at 2pm (uncles/cousins/brothers/sister/sister inlaw'/mum/dad) with the men mostly already drunk on Rice wine. Mr b is the richest in the family and the 2nd oldest brother - as a result, his youngest sister and brother did everything he told them to (take our bags, go to the market, get us food, bring him Rice wine) - was unbelievable. The mum brought out food, rice and barbequed pork and grilled fish...she seemed to be constantly bringing out/clearing away food and plates. The dad who had been hit by a landmine was mostly lying around. The youngest sistere who was 16 took me to the local market on the back of her bike, she didn't have very good English but was very sweet...we met one of her friends there and then went on to the local school where I met the English teacher and was brought to sit down - 30 children surrounded me, with 2 confident students with very good English asking me lots of questions. They then asked if they could come and visit me at the house later to talk more, which they did. By 8pm all the men were drunk or had gone...so we went upstairs to big room where everyone was sleeping together...wooden (maybe bamboo) floor...they don't sleep on matresses but had bought one over from the uncles house for me to sleep on, which I was very grateful for. I didn't have a mosquito net though unfortunately so got bitten on my feet quite badly...keeping the fan on at night seemed to keep them away. Not a brilliant nights sleep either because of the dogs barking and then the family getting up at around 5am but did seem to sleep until 9am after that. We then sat around on the wooden rafters for awhile, I watched the family wash there clothes (they got water froma pump in the ground) and they took showers there with clothes wrapped round them. Mr b and I went down to a local restaurant and had an ice coffess with lots of condensed milk as always, and then collected our stuff and waited by the side of the road for a taxi to pass by. Back to Phnom Penh where we again relaxed at the lakeside 'Same Same'GH'. On Monday, my final day in Phnom Penh I went down to the tourist market and bought lots more scarfs and then went to the Royal Palace with the proper clothes to be able to get in - absolutely massive complex with lots of different buildings, with elaborate interiors - very strict on not taking photos and taking your shoes off. Tried to find the Silver Pagoda only to realise i'd been to it - not the outside that was silver, but the tiled floors!!