Last stop Phnom Penh - seems a lifetime away

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March 9th 2024
Published: March 9th 2024
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Steph found an office for the bus company at the port and was able to secure a free transfer to the departure point. This worked well and we didn’t have long to wait for the bus to the capital Phnom Penh. It was a bit different from our recent forms of transport with reclining seats and a sandwich plus bottle of water for lunch. Another pleasant journey on decent roads through the Cambodian countryside spotting water buffalo and various types of birds.

We arrived in the city near the palace and Moly a friendly driver offered to match the price of a Grab so we jumped into his tuk tuk. Our hotel was within walking distance of most of the important places and ,although it was very near to Pub Street, our room was thankfully at the back of the building. We sorted ourselves out and ate at Khmer Women Food just 5 minutes away. It was set up by a very inspirational lady who is still very much present in the establishment and speaks good English. Her daughter now does the cooking and this is all in plain view of the customers.The food was delicious πŸ˜‹

We organised Moly to be our driver for the next day which would be the hardest one of our trip as we visited sites and learnt horrific information about the Khmer Rouge regime. They marched into Phnom Penh on April 17th 1975 and nearly 2 million people died, almost 25% of the population, during their occupation. Most were killed but many also died of starvation or illness due to lack of food and medicine. We began in the heart of the city at a high school which became a detention and interrogation centre , known as S-21, for the brutal regime. The audio guide was essential although the history of the place is horrific and the stories told by some of the survivors were harrowing. However, like Aushwitz in Poland, it is essential that these places are kept open as a reminder of terrible events in history. After spending a few hours here we then headed to the killing fields 17 kilometres outside the city called Choeung Ek. There are several sites cross the country but the one we visited was attached to S-21. It was a former orchard and had a sound system that played music to drown out any giveaway sounds of the horrors that took place. Babies were separated from their mothers before being thrown into pits and even members of the authorities were killed here as paranoia set in within the ruling party. People were blindfolded when transported here and guns were rarely used as ammunition was scarce and would make too much noise if used. There is a commerative stupa that contains bones of some of the victims although not all areas have been unearthed.

After such a thought provoking and disturbing day we had arranged to meet up with Maria and Teresa, who we met at Christmas at Rainbow Lodge, for dinner and much needed cocktails. Teresa had recommended a spring roll restaurant only 5 minutes from our hotel which was perfect. We sat outside in the garden, ordered both savoury and sweet rolls plus cocktails then put the world to rights.

A good nights sleep before our last day in Cambodia. We decided to do a walking tour of the city which started with a hearty breakfast. We visited the Central Market and Wat Phnom; walked past the train station and several French colonial buildings then finished at
Khmer Women Food restaurant Khmer Women Food restaurant Khmer Women Food restaurant

A real family affair
the Royal Palace. We walked 8 miles so decided to revisit the spring roll restaurant for dinner then visited a hotels sky bar for a farewell cocktail.

We checked out the following morning and had another delicious breakfast before heading to the airport on a tuk tuk to start our journey back to Heathrow via Bangkok and Abu Dhabi.

A brilliant trip to a wonderful country πŸ‡°πŸ‡­

Additional photos below
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One of the  buildings at the Genocide Museum One of the  buildings at the Genocide Museum
One of the buildings at the Genocide Museum

A horrific but must see place to visit to learn about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime
Meeting up with Maria and Teresa Meeting up with Maria and Teresa
Meeting up with Maria and Teresa

Teresa recommended this spring roll restaurant which was fabulous and we all had cocktails 🍹

10th March 2024

What a fabulous trip enjoyed the blog and photos.

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