Best bus journey yet, and it just happened to be the one leaving Vietnam, go figure! In reclined aircon luxury we tootled across the border pretty much hassle free, which I believe had something to do with the wads of cash the driver slipped into the hands of the immigration officials. We stopped for lunch amid the plush casinos just past the border into Cambodia and I ended up sat down with a guy on his way to Vietnam who I'd met in Vang Vieng. We reminisced.
Once in Phnom Penh I took tight grip of my handbag and found somewhere nice to stay. I was leaving the next afternoon so got out and about straight away. It's difficult being in a city like Phnom Penh knowing how much its people are scarred by it's recent history. Those who know the history surrounding Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge will be aware that between 1975 and 1978 the regime massacred a third of the country's population. One of its main interrogation prisons, S-21, was in the capital; a transformed school. It was really emotive visiting there, especially as it was pretty much identical to my Thai school, and looking at the photos and hearing the stories of those imprisoned and tortured there is beyond description to be honest.
I felt emotionally drained that evening, and so after trying some local curries and Angkor beer I turned in for an early night. The next morning we visited the Killing Fields, the mass graves where an inestimable number of innocent Khmer people were slaughtered under Pol Pot's regime. As soon as you walk in there's a glass tower pagoda containing over 8000 recovered skulls, surrounded by uncovered mass graves, it is truly harrowing. Visiting S-21 and the Killing Fields was such an emotional experience, but I think people who visit Cambodia and shield themselves from its horrific past remain in ignorance and lack understanding of what the country and its people have been through.
I had a few hours once I returned before my bus to Siem Reap, in which time I went to the small National Museum, which contained ancient relics from across the country. Remembering to pick up my passport just in the nick of time my ride to the bus station arrived, this being a teeny motorbike just big enough for one person (my backpack itself is the equivalent of one person!) So I spent 10mins winding through sideroads with half of me and my backpack hanging off my back and my thighs clenching onto the bike for dear life: pain!