Phnom Penn

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December 10th 2016
Published: December 10th 2016
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Firstly crossing the border from Vietnam to Cambodia really couldn't have been easier...maybe a little quicker, but this is Asia. I paid 200,000 Dong (£7) for the bus ticket from HCM to Phnom Penn. When we boarded the bus the conductor took all of our passports and the $35US for the visa, when we got to the border he got off and sorted everything, we just needed to walk through. The worrying thing is that all the big bags were left on the bus, so if you did want to traffic drugs, or worse, then it wouldn't be a problem!.

Arriving in Phnom Penn I was kinda expecting another HCM. I've been told by friends who've visited before that it's the dodgiest city in the whole of SE Asia. So I was pleasantly surprised to find a rather calm and clean city, where I felt 100% safe at all times.

When we got off the bus a few other people were heading to the same hostel, so a party of 7 all headed to “19 Happy Hostel” for around $1 each. The hostel itself was pretty good, clean and a variety of rooms to choose from. I took the 14 bed dorm for $2.87 per night! The downstairs bar area was really good, with a pool table and aux cable for the speakers. Beer is $1 a can!

Like I mentioned at the end of my previous blog, the main “attractions” in PP are the killing fields and the S-21 prison museums. Fully prepared for another day of gruesome information we set off around 10.30AM, with 8 of us paying $5 per tuk-tuk for the whole day.

First stop was the killing fields, with a quick detour via the shooting range. I didn't want to shoot a gun, I had zero regrets after leaving Cu Chi, but my friend did and the driver told us it's better to go before the museums because “you won't really have the feeling to shoot after the killing fields”.

To empty a “full” clip of 30 rounds from an AK-47 was $55...alternatively for as little as $300 you can take a “taxi” into the mountains and fire a rocket launcher at a cow.

Quite what the legality of the firing range was I'm not sure, because it was down a dirt path behind a big corrugated iron sheet door, with no signs and a strict no picture policy.

I have to admit I knew very little about the mass genocide that took place here in the 70s. I'd just about heard of Pol Pot and can remember seeing the trial on TV a few years ago.

The Khmer rouge party of Pol Pot took over in 1975 to “liberate” the Cambodian people of US imperialism, and proceeded over the following three years to kill 3 million Cambodians. Just think about this...1/4 people of the people in your country murdered in three years.

The killing fields was literally hat is says on the tin. You get entry and an audio guide for $6, you walk around the complex and it tells you what each area was used for, where mass graves were found, and stories from survivors or people who worked there.

The most sobering moment, probably of my life, was learning about the “killing tree”. Next to a mass grave and found with bits of human brain, hair and flesh. The tree was used for the murder of babies. The soldiers would hold their legs and swing them into the tree before throwing them into the grave.

The next stop was the S-21 prison. Used to detain and torture false confessions out of people. The beds used to chain the victims were still in the rooms and it made for some pretty chilling viewing.

I'm not going to give a history lesson, if you want to know more look into yourself. It's making me sad again just writing this. Again it was $6 for entry and the audio guide.

On a more positive note I had incredible food all day, a Cambodian take on Thai red curry and a Khmer curry in the evening which might have been one of the best things I've ever eaten.

Overall PP has been a very interesting stop, with amazing food!

Unsure where to head next I'm going with some friends to Koh Rong, an island in the south. Apparently I don't do enough sitting around on the beach in Australia...


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