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Published: January 21st 2006
All this way for this...
What do you know...I come to Cambodia and find an exhibit about my home town?
NOTE:...I am publishing this post even though I have not posted the photos from my first day in Phnom Penh (as I am having trouble loading them).....
The boat ride up the Mekong Delta landed me in Phnom Penh where I headed down to the lakeside (Boeng Kak Lake) area where most of the backpaper guest houses are locate. I was joined by my South African friend who, unable to locate her friends in town, joined me for some dinner and a movie on the top of the guest house before we both called it a night.
The next day I walked through town taking advantage of the excellent weather. I made stops at the national museum, the Royal Palace and along the banks of water where the three rivers (the Mekong river, the Bassac river and the Tonle Sap ) converge. I headed back to the lakeside area for sunset which was outstanding.
The following day I rented a scooter driver and had him take me to a shooting range outside of town where I fired both an M16 machine gun and an anti-aircraft weapon. What a rush! Then I had the driver take me
Wat Phnom, or "Hill Temple," is built upon an artificial hill about 100' high. It is here that the city of Phnom Penh ("Penh's Hill") was founded in 1373. Shrines and other buildings have been put up and restored several times since then, the last major restoration taking place in 1926.
to the Killing Fields (yes, I see the irony and conflict of the two events I had planned) where I could see for myself what I have been reading about in the book Surviving The Killing Fields by Dr. S. Haing Ngor (who also happend to play Dith Pran in the 1984 movie The Killing Fields opposite Sam Waterston and John Malkovich). It was a moving experience to walk the fields even though there is not much left except grass-covered craters that were once mass graves. There is a stupa which houses many of the bones which were excavated and stands as a memorial to the events. I am glad I visited the site nonetheless. I then headed over to the S21 prison which was used by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge as a tortue camp. Very frightening and disturbing place. The equipment and photos of the events were extremely graphic.
Hoping for a more festive night following the events of the day, I met a guy from Alaska and he joined me for some drinking among the bars of Phnom Penh. Around 1am I notice he was interested in a local working girl at the bar Heart
All tied up
A pick-up truck delivers chickens to local eateries.
of Darkness so I bid him farewell and called it a night.
The following morning I caught the bus to Sihanoukville.
In all, Phnom Penh was one of my favorite cities of South East Asia. A very comfortable city with a great vibe. The lakeside area features many guesthouses with soothing balconies that overlook the lake while the city's many cultural sights and vast history make it a must-see when touring SE Asia.
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