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October 10th 2009
Published: October 20th 2009
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We were really sad to leave the Happy Guest House. Since wed been there for so long it had become like a second home! The bus to Phnom Penh was really posh, and we were both pleasantly surprised that we were the only Westerners on it. The scenery that we passed on the roadside was pretty crazy. All of the landscape was really flat and water logged, which is quite possibly why it is called the wet season! At some points on the journey, there was water on both sides of the road, as if the road was going right through a river. It was really beautiful.

On arrival in the city, we were made aware of just how hectic it was, and how much traffic and people there were everywhere! This was a stark contrast to Siem Reap. We were also amazed by the cyclos that we hadn seen anywhere else and looked really quirky.

During our first day in the city, we decided to go to the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (S21), as well as the Choeung Ek (The Killing Fields). We were aware that this would be quite a full on day, but really wanted to get them done together and see them while we had the chance. While wed been in Siem Reap a few locals who wed met had mentioned that members of their family had suffered there. A few people had told us what to expect at S21, and I felt really relieved that I had been warned before as it was a really horrific and quite difficult place to be. Seeing pictures of how bodies were found in the rooms, with beds still there and bloodstains on the floor, walls and ceiling, as well as the torture instruments left there was still really shocking, both Robbie and I were completely unable to get our heads around how it could have been allowed to happen. The second block was less gruesome but more upsetting, as it had mug shots of all the victims there, as records were kept of them all. There were rooms and rooms of men, women and children. There were also women holding babies in pictures. It felt for me as though I wanted to go but get through it as quickly as possible, and yet out of respect I wanted to look at all of their faces. Some people looked angry, some defiant, and some scared and lost. Another block housed cells made out of bricks. Some of these had torture instruments in as well. Rob stood in one and he could hardly fit. By the time we got to the area with the torture instruments in and pictures of bodies whod been mutilated, we were both feeling a bit sick.

The journey to the Killing Fields was 15 kilometres out of the city, along a hot and dusty road. Our tuck tuck driver also kept breaking down, which made us chuckle and helped to break the strange mood that S21 had put us into. There was a museum there and then you walk around the mass graves. There was a tree that said “Killing Tree” next to it, that went on to explain how children were beat to death against it, and another tree called the “Magic Tree” that had speakers hanging from it so that the executioners couldn hear the moans of the people. I personally found these more upsetting than the tower that has been built to house the bones, as the tower has been build with a lot of respect. We didn take any pictures at all of the two sites out of respect.

The waterside in the evening was full of Cambodian families, and it felt really nice to mingle with them all. The Palace was also very beautiful.

After being shocked by Mondays traffic, we applied for our visa for Vietnam, and went to some markets, which was a really good time to get some bartering on and some bargains. There were also a few bars in the city that were quite cool. We found one called Zeppelin Bar, that only played rock records and looked like it had been transported from Berlin! Well definitely be a little sad to leave the Kingdom of Cambodia as we have had an amazing time here.

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