Tag Archives: Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh to Kampot, Cambodia

5/30 – We are looking forward to getting out of the noisy bustle of Phnom Penh, and seeing the Cambodian countryside.  It seems that the more we travel, the less we like big cities.  Even 9000 miles from home, cities have a sameness in their traffic, squalor, shops, hawkers, taxi drivers and press of people.

Several travelers suggested that we head south to check out the adjoining towns of Kampot and Kep.  This is easily done by booking a $6.00 ticket on a bus heading south, and today is our travel day.  We were told the ride would take three hours, but it took five.  Nothing wrong; we have become accustomed to the exaggeration of ticket sellers who want you to think that their bus line can get you there faster than the line next door.  The bus curtains were closed against the heat of the day for most of the trip, so only a few pix of the countryside.  Lots of skinny white cows foraging at the roadside or grazing in the fields.imageimage image

The bus stopped first in Kep, and most of the young tourists got off there, right at the oceanfront.  We stayed on, as our lodging for the next three days is in Kampot.

The tuk-tuk brought us right to the door of the Kampot Manor, a beautiful French colonial on a quiet road outside of town.  image

Our host David was surprised to see us, and told us that perhaps an error was made at Booking.com, as he did not have our reservation.  No worries (he is Australian); he asked us to wait while a room was made up for us, and we were settled in no time.  Come to find out, we had mistakenly booked online for June 30 instead of May 30.  Darn these new-fangled computers! David got it all sorted out.

Our room was on the upper floor, with a wrap-around veranda.  We ordered supper (David is an excellent chef), and he delivered it up to the veranda so we could watch the sunset.  We were not disappointed – what a stunner!imageimage image

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Tomorrow, the town!

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

5/29 – We plan to stay in this busy city for only two days.  Here are the Royal Palace and the Independence Monument.image

 

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Every city seems to have  the same electrical wire challenge!image

We watched some monks standing outside shops waiting for their daily alms.image

Phnom Penh is, unfortunately, best known as the center of the Cambodian genocide of the Khmer Rouge in 1975-79(precipitated by the destabilization caused by the abrupt American withdrawal from Vietnam and Cambodia in 1973). We will honor this history by visiting the Genocide Museum at Tuol Sleng Prison, otherwise known as S-21.image

The prison is in the center of the city, five buildings that formerly comprised the high school.image

There were only 7 survivors from the prison, where over 14,000 were tortured  before being transported to the fields outside town (known as the Killing Fields) then bludgeoned to death. We watched a movie where three of the survivors; two prisoners and a guard, described their experiences with the Khmer Rouge.

We walked through the dark rooms of the school, where rows of photographs give faces to the victim numbers.  Whole families were imprisoned here, accused of being CIA or KGB by a neighbor, who was tortured to provide names.  By the time the genocide was over, 25% of the Cambodian population had been executed.

The Khmer Rouge, like the Nazis, kept meticulous records of each prisoner. I will spare you, dear reader, from the photos of torture, starvation, and ultimate death, but they are on display here.

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We we walked through the classrooms that were subdivided by rough brick and mortar into cells 18 inches wide where the prisoners were kept.  In lieu of restrooms, the cells were hosed down occasionally.

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In a room where the cell walls have been taken down, you can see how narrow they were by the cell numbers along the wall.  The floor tiles are six inches square.  Each cell was three tiles wide.image

Other rooms had torture apparatus on display, and descriptions of how the torture was carried out.  I’ll spare you those images too.  Rules of interrogation:image

There were cases full of skulls, all with a crack or a hole at the back as evidence of the final blow that sent them into the mass graves.image

Two of the prison survivors sit outside the displays, available to answer questions.  They do not want the genocide to ever be forgotten.

After touring the museum, many go out to view the Killing Fields, but I had had enough for one hot day.

Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, Cambodia

5/27 – We enjoyed our short stay in Siem Reap.  The heat of the day was broken by a short afternoon rain (we are in the beginning of monsoon or wet season) so we were able to walk around and see some of the city.  When we were in Thailand, there were three seasons; the hot, the wet and the dry.  Here in Cambodia there are only two seasons; the wet and the dry.  It is always HOT. There are lots of restaurants and bars on Pub Street.image

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It’s a wonder that the electricity works at all in Asia.  Every town has a similar challenge with wires.image

Although drugs are illegal here, marijuana is exempt because it is an herb used in cooking.  It is an ingredient in Happy Pizza and other Happy dishes. I wonder what they put in Ecstatic Pizza?

Isn’t this a good name for a laundry?  Someone has a sense of humor.image

Lots of markets.  Anyone need a crocodile?image image image image

5/28 – Today we hopped on the bus for the six hour ride to Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. This bus had a hostess with a microphone who announced our itinerary in both Khmer and English, and played an endless loop DVD of Cambodian crooners singing love songs to adoring girls in long dresses and beehive hairdos.image

About two hours into the trip, the paved road became a dirt road. We understand that as the wet season progresses, many roads become impassable.

We stopped for a break midway through, and Jim wanted a snack. The roadside snack shack specialized in fried bugs (grasshoppers?), so he bought a bagful.

For the record, he said they were crunchy and very tasty, sort of like Fritos. I will take his word on that!

The rest of the ride was uneventful, but the sky was awesome, so here are some cloud pix. As we neared the city, the road became paved once again.image

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And now we are in our cozy guesthouse with another awesome pool!image