We have spent the last two days in the Cambodian capital Phom Penh. When we arrived we got a tuk tuk to one of the cities lakes, where apparently there were a congregation of cheap guesthouses. We pulled up in a dingy alleyway with everyother building deserted and crumbling. We were informed the city is undergoing major redevelopment and many of the old wooden guesthouses had been knocked down for more modern buildings. Luckily there was life in one of the few remaining guesthouses so we plumped for that one.
The city is rather sprwaling and the only effective way to get around is by tuk tuk so we hired a driver for the day and went sightseeing. We started with the killing fields, a harrowing site where tens of thousands of Cambodians were sent to be executed then thrown in mass graves, during the Khmer Rouge rule of the late 1970's. There is a memorial stupa to honour the dead which is filled with exhumed remains including skulls, jaws, collar bones etc. The most horrendous part however is walking through the fields of the graves. Where rains have washed through top soil bones and clothing have surfaced from unexcavated graves. You could actually see human teeth lying on the ground!
We followed the fields with a visit to the Tuol Sleng Museum, a former school closed by the Khmer Rouge and turned into the most brutal prison in the country. The classrooms were turned into cells and torture rooms and the buildings were wrapped with barbed wire, which added to the sobering atmosphere.
To cheer ourselves up we finished the day with a visit to the royal palace and silver pagoda. The place had a striking similarity to the palace in Bangkok, however the Cambodians trumped their neighbours by lining the floor of the pagoda with 5000 silver tiles (hence its name). The pagoda also contains a life size solid gold buddha weighing 90kg and adorned with 2086 diamonds!!!!
We leave tomorrow for Siem Reap to see the magnificent Angkor Wats (world wonder number three on our travels)
Love Liz and dale xxx