Hot and hectic

Phnom Penh Travel Blog

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Took the bus to Phnom Penh, the hectic Cambodian capital, and went to the OK Guesthouse. Funny set-up here - the rooms are good, big, hot water, aircon etc etc but the staff are just weird. I think they are all working on commission as as soon as you walk down the stairs and have to walk through the hostel's restaurant, they jump on you from all angles, asking if you want food or drink, asking what you are doing today, do you want a tour, do you want a tuktuk, where are you going tomorrow etc etc. When you manage to get outside you get sprung on by a dozen tuktuk drivers. This is Cambodia though, and we have found that we can't walk more than 3 metres without someone trying to sell us something or offering us tuktuks.

After a heck of a trek to the Vietnamese embassy, we got in just in time for the lunch break (they close from 1130am-230pm), filled in the forms, handed over $35 each and one passport photo and hey presto! We got our Vietnam visa in 5 minutes!! Next, we had to find the Burmese embassy and luckily they didn't close at 1130am.

tuk-tuking it
We filled in 3 forms, handed over 3 passport pics each and paid $20 each and then left our passports there as it would take 3 days to process.

We also visited the Tuol Sleng museum, the former high school that was used by the Khmer Rouge to hold its prisoners back in the late 1970's. The museum is also known as S-21, the name used for it by the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot.  We all know that the Khmer Rouge were a brutal bunch and that they were responsible for a huge number of deaths but I had no idea as to the sheer number of those murdered or the atrocities that went on here. S-21 was used to 'house' the prisoners, and here they were kept in appalling conditions and tortured in the most disturbing ways to 'get information' from them.

Photos of many of the 17,000 people who went through this place are displayed here - men, women, children and infants. The pictures of the terrified children are so haunting. If a man was determined to be a threat to Pol Pot (i.e someone who had been educated) then he and his entire family were brought here. Most of the 17,000 that were kept at S-21 were sent to the notorious Killing Fields, 14km south of the city, to be executed. We gave the Killing Fields a miss as S-21 was enough for us. It is a very disturbing place, but it is worth the visit to learn about what happened here.


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tuk-tuking it
tuk-tuking it
Phnom Penh
photo by: terminalfunk