Last known location: London, England

Next Stop Phnom Penh

We reluctantly left Koh Rong on Wednesday 5th and headed back to Sihanoukville where we were hoping to catch an onward bus to Phonm Penh.  Luckily the journey was a lot smoother than the way there, and on a much larger boat, so we didn’t suffer from any seasickness!  However, we didn’t get back to Sihanoukville till gone 2 and the 2.30 bus was full so we ended up staying one more night there.  We just wandered around town for the afternoon and spent the evening watching The Killing Fields (a film about the Khmer Rouge takeover) in a local bar.

The next day we were up bright and early to get back to the capital.  We travelled on one of the nicer buses – a big double decker with sufficient leg room for Dan to keep his legs out of the aisle!  We arrived in Phnom Penh at 2ish and got one of the many tuk tuk’s to the Europe Guesthouse, a really lovely place just near the river but somewhat close to the red light district! There were some very suspicious bars just down the road from our hotel!

That afternoon was spent visiting Wat Phnom, the highest point in the city at a staggering 30 metres or so! The temple sits on top of a small hill and is stunning inside.  It’s quite a tranquil place in an otherwise very busy city!  There’s a friendly local elephant, Sambo, who gives tourists a ride around the gardens, and some not so friendly monkeys who have been known to bite!

After the temple Dan got some beef kebabs from a street stall, which went down quite well despite a warning from a local that it might upset his stomach!  I decided not to risk it!  We walked along the river and stopped for a couple of drinks before doing some engagement ring shopping.  I ended up getting a $1.50 buffalo horn ring, which is perfect for our current travelling situation!  I’ve been promised a bit of sparkle when we get home but I’ve already become rather attached to my current one!

The next day we were ready to get back into sightseeing mode.  We’d arranged to meet our tuk tuk driver from the previous day and the first stop of the morning was The Killing Fields at Choeung Ek.  This site is about 30 minutes out of town and is one of the places where the Khmer Rouge executed prisoners and buried them in mass graves during the 1970’s.  Around 17,000 people are thought to have been killed there – including the children and entire families of victims, to prevent them taking revenge in the future. Not very pleasant, and the stupa containing thousands of skulls and bones from the victims really bought the horror home.  It’s quite a tranquil area now, surrounded by trees and greenery, but they still discover new bits of bone and pieces of ragged clothing when it rains heavily.  Which demonstrates just how many people died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge – so recently, too.

We headed back to town, stopping off at the Russian Market for a quick wander.  Lots of interesting sights and smells but we didn’t buy anything so quickly moved on to the Genocide Museum, which used to be Tuol Seng prison – again used to imprison victims of the regime.  Again, rather a grim experience with lots of moving photos and the chance to see the shocking conditions innocents were kept in. Every inmate was photographed, and these photos are now displayed in room after room in the old prison buildings.

We said goodbye to our lovely tuk tuk driver when he dropped us at the National Museum in the centre of town.  There was loads of Khmer art from the early 9th to late 18th centuries, particularly sculptures and bronze artifacts.  The museum is a beautiful building with a lovely outside courtyard which you can sit in to rest your feet.

Our last stop of the day was the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda.  Again, the buildings and grounds were really impressive, and very grand!  It was a very hot day but I had to cover my shoulders with a sleeved top.  Anyone who might visit it should take note – they don’t accept shawls as a cover-up, it needs to be something with sleeves.  Quite a few women were turned away, although the shop at the entrance does sell suitable tops if you’re desperate and was doing a roaring trade!

We’d read and heard some bad reports about Phnom Penh, and our guide book wasn’t exactly gushing either, but we were pleasantly surprised.  There were loads of nice bars and restaurants and it’s great being so close to the river so PP gets the thumbs up from us!

  1. John 16 Jan, 2011

    Sounds lovely. I hope Dans stomach was up to the kebab. Was your tuk tuk for the half day expensive , I presume not. It’s mild, 10 degrees in the UK.

  2. Rose 16 Jan, 2011

    Mild but raining!! Cambodia sounds a lovely country! Looking forward to visiting it soon!!


    Mum x x x

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