Phnom Penh Day 1 (23.06.2012): Today we got picked up from Viva Hotel, Siem Reap at 07:30 by a mini van which took us to the bus station to catch the 08:30 Mekong Express Bus to Phnom Penh (we had hoped to get a boat but unfortunately the river is too low at the moment and the boat wasn't running). The bus was fine apart from we got kicked out 2 hours into the journey for a 30 minute stop where we were not allowed to stay on the bus. The stop was in the middle of nowhere and we were surrounded by children begging for food which wasn't nice to see. They are all so thin and you realise they have to beg - it is how they eat. Their eyes lit up when anyone gave them anything.
We really have encountered a different way of life on our travels. I was so shocked by all the prostitution in Thailand - mainly old western men surrounded by groups of young Thai girls - you could tell exactly what was going on. When we passed the bars the girls tried to get Adam and Mike in. Here though it is really difficult to see all the children. There are three to four year olds with new born babies strapped to them begging. It's advised not to give them money but rather to buy them food. I want to open a free food stand for them all!
It is getting difficult with all the hassle though. Although I will miss the culture I am kind of looking forward to Australia where we won't need to worry so much about being scammed and put up with constant hounding with every footstep. They shout at you for miles and you just can't enjoy anything properly or stand to look at anything for long. We are constantly approached to buy drugs among other things.
The moment we stepped off the bus at Phnom Penn after a 6 hour journey we were hounded by tuk tuk drivers in a much more aggressive manner than I have encountered so far. They don't give you time to collect your belongings, find your feet and work out where you want to go. It is really bewildering. I wanted to scream "I do not want a TUK TUK" and did get quite angry with them not that it puts them off.
We are staying at Vellkommen Backpackers. It's pretty budget class but we have our own room - no aircon but it'll do. Phnom Penh is hectic. There seems to be less travellers here which is a bit daunting as it means we get hounded more and stared at lots. The city doesn't quite have the atmosphere of Siem Reap. We have had a mini explore: Walked to the Royal Palace and around the riverfront. We have also checked out a local market. I was nearly sick at the animal bit - they don't keep them nice.
Tomorrow we will head first of all the Genocide Museum. I have been reading a book in the hostel on the S-21 prison and I am shocked to hear what happened only 10 years before I was born. Apparently 1 in 5 Cambodians were killed during the Khmer Rouge - an estimated 1 to 3 million (vague I know). We are also heading to the Killing Fields - a memorial for those who died under the regime. I am sure it will be a difficult and haunting morning.