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Published: August 4th 2019
Buildings inside the Royal Palace.
We had our do-it-yourself tour of Phnom Penh yesterday, but today is the official, organised tour. We had expected it to be a group of us, however, again, it was just the two of us, along with the guide and driver who took us to Oudong yesterday.
First stop was the Royal Palace. After another security barrier that bleeped for everyone and was ignored, we were shown around the main areas. It was stunning and very similar to the temple at Oudong that we visited yesterday, just a lot, lot busier. Unlike other palaces, it’s not a single building, but a site consisting of several, some of which we could go into, some of which we could not. The king lives in a completely separate building, which tourists obviously go no where near. The king was at home apparently, as the royal flag was flying.
Outside there is a tree that is bowing to the king.
The two main buildings are the Throne Room and the Silver Pagoda, both of which we needed to remove our shoes before entering and no photographs are allowed. Both contained a lot of the country’s ornate national treasures, including an emerald Buddha
A tiny part of the murals in the Royal Palace.
and a huge gold Buddha. The Silver Pagoda was named that was as the floor is made of sliver. Whilst the treasures are magnificent, our guide told us how much of the country’s riches were plundered and sold by the Khmer Rouge.
Outside there was a long mural depicting scenes from “the Reamker”, which is a poem about good and evil apparently. Sadly, a lot of it has been damaged by the weather when that part of the palace was used as a barracks.
Next stop was the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek, which is one of the 388 killing fields around Cambodia. There were 129 mass graves here, where an estimated 20,000 people were killed and buried by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. There is a huge memorial in the middle of the site, which brings alive the horrors. There are 17 ‘levels’ within the memorial, representing 17 April 1975, which was the date on which the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh. The bottom ‘level’ has the remains of the clothes from the bodies that have been exhumed from some of the mass graves, the next few the skulls and the remaining the limbs and other
Well the adults have crash-helmets on!
The skulls each have a little coloured sticker either indicating the gender or how they were suspected to have been killed. There were some plants around the area with a jagged, razor-sharp edge, which was one such method.
We bought a flower each to leave as a tribute.
There was a little museum with a video and an exhibition about this site and the atrocities. We had wondered why Pol Pot was never bought to justice, however it seemed that war crimes trials had started and it was just a matter of time when he died of natural causes whilst under house arrest.
Our tour had included the “S21” Tuol Sleng torture prison, which is now the Genocide Museum, but my wife was crying as we left Choeung Ek so we decided that that was as much as we could take.
We spent an hour in a Brown Coffee Shop (the Cambodian equivalent of Costa or Starbucks) and then walked to the nearby Russian Market. It’s called the Russian Market, as it was originally founded by Russians, rather than selling Russian goods.
We had a little laugh when we saw the Cambodian International
Siem Reap Airport
The temple like Siem Reap terminal building.
American (CIA) School. I’ll have a fair bet on some of the subjects being taught there.
There had been two fruits that we had been wanting to try, Durians and Mangosteens, but for different reasons are quite hard to get hold of and are certainly not available in the hotels (in fact they are banned from the hotels). We stopped off at a stall by the side of the road on the way to the airport. Mangosteens‘ juice apparently turns to glue and is extremely hard to get rid of. Durians give off a foul, pungent smell, although the one that my wife tried didn’t really smell at all. The driver still refused to have it in the car.
Our kids will be relieved that they’re not with us, as they would have been force fed Durians and Mangosteens as part of their ‘five a day’.
Our flight to Siem Reap was on a small propeller-driven plane and only took 50 minutes. Siem Reap is a lovely little airport, in the style of many of the temples.
Siem Reap was a bit of a shock, particularly Pub Street, and it is more like an 18 to
Party central, Siem Reap.
30 Thai party resort than the site to access a UNESCO world heritage site. It was lively to say the least. We went to another night market and got some things that we had promised the kids. My daughter had very specific requirements, but I’ll give it to the guy, he stuck with it and didn’t loose the will to live like I would have done. He got his sale. I was very tempted by a t-shirt with the words “I DON”T want a tuk tuk” printed on it!
I’m also sad to say it, but having just got over being ill, we really felt like to ‘western stodge’ so we had a burger and chips to eat (but definitely not from a street vendor).
There were some more mangosteen stalls by the side of the road and suddenly we could tell why there’s such an issue with the smell.
Back in our hotel room, my wife screamed when she saw something walking across the floor, but calmed down when she realised it was one of those tiny “chit chat” lizards. It was nothing like as freaky as the deep-fried spiders and scorpions we saw being sold
These ones are like glue, but tasted sweet enough.
by a street vendor.
There were three power cuts over night.
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