Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh Travel Blog

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Cambodia - Phnom Penh
Thursday, May 29, 2008

We paid for a 1st class bus (US$12) each to Phnom Penn - some how we ended up on a old bus with small seats, no leg room and full of Cambodians for our 5 hour bus ride. It was stinking hot and to make things worse we kept on seeing the 1st class bus on the road in front of us - it looked very comfortable.  About 3 hours into the ride I saw a truck loaded with Coconuts swerve on the road - (I think to miss a kid as the road was straight) - lose control, rolled, hit a truck that we were following 100 meters behind and watch four banged up Cambodians climb out of the batted truck passengers window.  The bus driver slowed down and then we just kept on going.

Once in Phnom Penn we exited the bus to be mobbed by 30 tuk tuk drivers trying to get our business, one tried to pick pocket me - told him to F off !!!.  Because we were on the wrong bus the person who we had arrange to pick us up at the bus stop wasnt there so we got a tuk tuk driver (Piere) to take us to a guest house (US$20) 'Sokha Heng Guest house'. The Guest house is great, its the cleanest one we have stayed in - but no pool - bugger !!.

We arranged for Piere to take us in his Tuk Tuk to the Killing Fields and the S21 prision camp the following day.


 Tower full of skulls and clothes from the pits that the bodies were thrown into.

The Killing fields were where approx. 17,000 Cambodians were killed. They were taken from S21 by the truckload - in it's peak, up to 300 per day were murdered here.  You can walk around and the pits where they murded (most were hit on the head and then had their thorats cut) and the bodies dumped in mass graves. There is still a huge area which hasn't even been excavated yet, and in the rainy season various bones, clothing and teeth etc begin to emerge from the ground.  There are pieces of clothing poking out of the ground everywhere - very creepy.  They played loud music on a speaker so the other prisoners wouldnt hear the screams of other prisoners as they were being excuted. 

S21 - was originally a school that was turned into a prison where they would torture, hang and execute people who they thought were the enemy (an enemy was basically government officials - or educated persons!) - If they thought you were an enemy the rest of your family would be arrested with you! This included your mother, father, brothers, aunts and uncles, sisters and children - everyone.  The Kymer Rouge would rather kill ten innocent people than let one guilty one free... sick people huh?  The prison guards were mostly children too... very sad.  The prison had 20 'interrogation rooms' which had metal framed beds which the prisoners were shackled to and tortured until they 'confessed' to their ridiculour crimes or died.  On the day the prison was invaded, 14 corpes were found in the interrogation rooms - the rooms now contain the beds and shackles etc, and a huge blown up photo on the wall of the person found in the room - they are now buried on the museum grounds.










Later in the day we went to the War Museum.  This was a field full with old rusted tanks, Artilary weapons, land mines and rifies used in the 1970's and more recently in the late 1990's !








The next night we went ot Piere's home to meet his wife and 3 children to have a Cambodian meal.  The house was a old wooden home with a kitchen, living area and not much else - the dinning table was a mat on the wooden floor which was also the bedroom at night. It was very intersting to see how they lived. 

His kids were very cute - we brought them some Coke (cola...), Smarties and ice cream. It was nice to see the kids so happy, it was like Christmas for them - the neighbours kids came over also, and they all crowded around the container stuffing themselves with ice-cream.  Got them good and hyper!

To be good guests we took a dozen beers. Drinking beer here is a bit strange as the weather is so hot, they put ice in your beer to keep it cold - its not that nice, but if you drink it fast its ok.  His wife cooked fish which you wrap in an lettuce leaf with a lime leaf and sprouts and dip into a garlic-lemon saurce. It was very suprisingly good - the food around here in the food stalls does not look or smell at all appealing, so dinner was a nice suprise.

Later in the evening the power cut off so we sat on the floor with candles drinking and chatting - 4 of Pieres tuk tuk friends turned up as they heard there was party on so we had more beer and a few laughs.  One of his friends got stuck into the beers, sang us a song and played 'leg guitar'!! hillarious.

We then got a lift back to town on the back of Piere's motor bike as he said there are too many drunks out and its safer to be on the back of a motor bike - Ive never been so scared in my life - with Erin, me and Piere on the back of a bike - at night - with hundreds of cars, tuk tuks, bicycles etc coming at us at all directions.  People here don't really stick to their side of the road - and we ended up seeing 4 accidents in one evening... madness. But we survied and the beer tasted that much better.  We ended up going to a couple of bars and got home around 3am.

Drunk Tuk tuk driver - have a look at him playing the leg guitar in the other photos.

We head off to Vietnam on Monday 1st June.  Yet another long bus ride...yaay  

amabala says:
Hi - just read your article on phnom penn, sorry don't know your name and not sure if you will get this message. Can you tell me if there's any way to contact piere as we would like to book him for the day to take us around and how much would it cost. Thanks for any help you can give. Your 'generous' comments are well appreciated. Cheers Hugh Smith
Posted on: Jul 22, 2009
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Phnom Penh
photo by: terminalfunk