The bus to Phnom Phen took 6 hours and once we arrived it was 3pm, we were hot and very tired and so was not at all in the mood to be dealing with pushy tuktuk drivers. One driver had his eyes on us from the moment of pulling up, shouting in our face trying to get us to go with him, he followed us whilst getting our bags off and the whole time we kept saying no thankyou, but he wasn't having any of it, we were both getting really hacked off with him, if he didnt look as if he was high as a kite and looking for people to scam then we may have gone with him but there was no way he was taking us any where. We ended up walking to the main road where he tailed us the whole way continually trying to get us to go with him. when we eventually flagged down another driver and started telling him where we wanted to go and this other driver pulled up and got out, my teacher voice may have made another appearence at that point, when i kindly ever so politely told him to 'back the frig off and leave us alone'.
Phnom Phen is really expencive, the accommodation is way over our budget, even the food is almost double everywhere else. We ended up moving after one night to a better location, we got a really lovely place called Fancy Guesthouse and the owners were so friendly. As soon as we got there we sorted out our Visa for Vietnam, our guesthouse dealt with it all and it takes two days. If we wernt waiting for our visa we wouldnt have spent more than a day here. We realised quite early on in our trip that big cities were not really our thing and we are most definatly looking forward to heading south and being a beach bum for the next 18 days!
We visited the royal Palace, its very grand and it was nice to get inside the palace walls and out of the hustle and bustle of the city, with its smells and annoying tuktuk drivers constantly pestering you, either for a ride or to sell drugs, i think Damo must look like a junkie out here because they are always asking him if he wants stuff, they ask in a really hushed voice as you are walking past, its quite funny, you will just here them whisper 'smoke my friend, you want to get high'. We also went to the central market which was massive, indoor and out! we managed to hunt me down some shorts to run in, they are the sexiest pair of shorts you ever did see! the lady had two sizes, small and big, she kept saying 'big size for you ok' 'ok ok big size ok big big' i was like ok lady i get it im big! haha although to be fair to her in Aisa i am pretty much obese, rather giant like infact! So I now have my sexy pants and some snazzy addidas or should i say addidash trainers to get some exercise in, we lasted all of about 6 weeks but we needed to get and do something, the rice and beer bellies were starting to catch up with us!
The killing fields was a really difficult trip, we are both glad we went as we knew very little of what had happend here and now we understand the full story of the Khmer Rouge Regime and the terror that went on. I will explain briefly what happend for those that dont know, and also as a reminder for us when we think back. There was a man called Pol Pot who was the leader of the Khmer Rouge regime that went on from 1975 to 1979. He was a paranoid and deluded man who believed that Cambodia needed to be a pure and self sufficiant country, and anyone who was of intelect, wealth, or just purely lived in a city was a threat to his beliefs and what he wanted Cambodia to be. Anyone in a city was believed to be corrupt and influenced by other countries. His plans lead to the removal of every single city resident in the whole of Cambodia where they were forced to work the land under horrific conditions. Many of the people died from starvation or exhaustion. Anyone who already lived in the country working the land were safe from the regime because they were working class and werent influenced by the city and its corruption. During thier time working the land many of the people were forced to write false confessions of theft, this would lead to thier arrest and in time their execution. After the closure of all of the schools, hospitals, banks and other large public buildings they were turned into prisons where people would be held and tortured untill they eventually went to the killing fields, of which there were many around Cambodia. Prisoners were taken blindfolded to the killing fields. Unfortunalty bullets were too expencive and so they met their death in a far more horrific and brutal way, and all because of one mans twisted views and beliefs.
The fields today are a really quiet and peacful place to remember and show your respects to the 3 million people in total who lost thier lives during the regime. You are give an audio to listen to as you are guided through different points within the fields. They are not fields as we think of them, there are paths that wind inbetween big holes in the ground which are the empty burial sights. Listening to some of the testamonies from survivors and also ex khmer workers was very moving and very disturbing. I think we both spent the whole time with a lump in our throught as we were listening to understanding the horror that went on, its hard to understand and totally heartbreaking to learn about. Only the skulls and larger bones were excavated so even today there are still bones and even rags from clothes that are visible, you are warned to be mindlful of where you are standing, we saw a few bones we had to walk around. Every three months groundsmen remove any remains that have surfaced since the last time. Within the grounds is a tall stupa which now holds all the 9000 skulls that were excavated from the fields in Phnom Phen, it was really moving to go inside and see all the thousands of skulls with thier fractures and holes. It was dificult for me to look at all the skulls all looking the same but knowing that not that long ago they were individual people living life just like us. It has definatly given us both a far deeper understanding and respect for the people in this beatiful country.
After forking out for a vietnamese visas we decided to try out the food market for our dinner, save a few pennies. The market is mental, loads of stuff that you dont really know what it is, you ask and the answer is always chicken, what part of the chicken is anyones guess. We decided to go for a whole chicken, it was the smallest skinniest looking thing but we thought we would give i ago. We also went for a kind of curry with pork in it and then some green beans with sauce. We hadnt really thought things threw very well as everything here comes in a plastic bag and tied with an elastic band, so after getting a curry we then went on the hunt for some spoons to actually eat everything with. We finally made our way to the river side where we had wanted to eat, it was almost pitch black, so we couldnt see anything, which is a little un nurving when delving into a bag of stuff that certainly doesnt look or taste like pork! A dog appeared next to Damo which scared the poop out of both of us, we then attempted to eat some chicken, there wasnt even a mouthfull of meat on him, his head was bigger than the amount of meat we found. All in all it was a disaster and we ended up dumping the whole lot and going to a restaurant...nice idea but it didnt work and we ended up forking out even more money than we would have spent just going for dinner in the first place!
Heading to sihanoukVille next and we cant bloomin wait, i can almost hear the beach calling our names! beach bummin hear we come!! :)