With Vietnam at an end it was yet another border crossing bus journey this time into Cambodia with the only hi-light (for Rhiannon at least) being the border control bloke who said I looked like Mr Bean, in fact after I had passed through border control he actually held up the next people to come through, which included Rhiannon, just to make that comment to them all. Git.
Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia which is as you probably know a fairly poor country and one which has had it's fair share of troubles. Not least the Khmer Rouge and a certain guy by the name of Pol Pot. There isn't a lot to see in the capital but quite a few of the things that are there relate to his legacy. The most famous is the Killing Fields which is a grim old place which was quite literally a Killing Field as it's here that the Khmer Rouge brought anyone they wanted to kill off and shot/buried/tortured them and dumped the bodies in mass graves. No there are just fields with big holes denoting the mass graves; a large struture in the centre has shelves upon shelves of skulls just to remind you what happened there.
In just two years the Khmer Rouge managed to kill off a percentage of his own population greater than that of Hitler or Stalin, which is no mean feat. He cut off the country from the rest of the world, forced everyone from the cities into the fields to work on collective farms and did his level best to put Cambodia back into the stone age. Fortunately for the country the Vietnamese came in a kicked him out although the organisation and Pol lived on and terrorised the nation until about 1998.
You can learn all about this at the Tuel Seleng Museum (or S-21 prison) which is where prisoners were held and brutally tortured before being sent to the Killing Fields to die. Tens of thousands went into the prison and only 7 were left when the Vietnamese turned up. The museum at the site (which was also once a school), pulls absolutely no punches when it comes to telling of the horrors that went on there and in Cambodian life. It's a pretty depressing place to visit, but it's important to know what went on only 30 years ago.
We didn't do a lot more really, visited some temples and the grand palace, which isn't as good as the one in Bangkok in case you ever have the choice to visit one or the other! Our hotel wasn't the best here, but it did mean that we got to meet a contender for 'biggest wierdo we met on tour'. Nearly 60 years old and with a shock of dyed blond hair, styled carefully in to a mullet, he looked like Pat Sharpe's dad. Like all oddballs we've met so far he was of course English and he plonked himself down on our table and began complaining that he'd just given $20 to a local girl and she'd disappeared with it.
Turns out she was moving in with him although he didn't sleep with her anymore which was pretty improbable as the guy has "sex tourist" stamped right through him. He'd lived in Cambodia for years and used to own a bar before the government said he needed a visa. He breezily announced then, as we tried to ignore him, that rather than get a visa he'd spent a year in jail for his refusal! "But I never got the visa" he said proudly. "Yep, nice one mate, you really got one over on them there didn't you, you big freak", we could have answered, but decided not to and soon he shook back his hair and left us to pester a guy at the next table.
So that's it for Phnom Penh, not as nice as I remember it from 8 years ago, it seems to have gotten more money grabbing and less friendly over the years, but we were only there two nights and we saw some interesting things before heading north to Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor.