After Leaving the hustle of Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon) it was off for a 6 hour bus ride to Cambodia leaving Vietnam behind for Phnom Penh. As I didn't have a VISA for cambodia, myself and a few of the other guys stood in the blinding heat for about 20 mins whilst waiting for the guards at the border to issue or Hand write a visa for the passports all in exchange for $20 U.S. After that it was through immigration to collect my next in the series of stamps in my passport and to to get ripped off by some fat official bloke who decided to charge us all $5 for a health medical card - a scrawney bit of paper which does b***** all apart from make this bloke slightly richer. This was just a money spinner for him and doesn't normally happen - apparently.
Upon arrival in Phnom penh, fist order of play was to grab some lunch after sitting onthe nice comfy public transport. For this we went to a local chinese noodle bar just a few minutes walk from the hotel. After that it was a quick trek round town to get our barings which on route we Passed the local wat - can't remember the name. where the local attraction was the monkeys that congregated on the trees outside. A women was selling some weird fruit which had nuts in it which you could feed to the monkeys. Thats when this huge fat hefer of a monkey appeared and would pretty much snatch anything you might have in your hand and scoff the lot. The monkeys were far more interesting then the wat which to be polite was boring as hell!
The second day in Phnom penh saw us going to the royal palace which was good to see and quite beutiful inside, however if you wanted to take any photos then you had to pay extra for the priviledge and weren't allowed to take pictures in a lot of the places. After that it was off to a former school which was used by the Khmer rouge as a prison and was a place of some drastic torture and executions during the 4 years of Pol Pots Khmer regime. The infamous place was known previously as Toul Slang and became known as S-21.
It was there that Residents of Phnom Penh who were considered to be a threat to the Khmer rouge were taken to be "Re-educated" which basicly meant tortured in many ways and then taken on walks late at night only to never return. It was here they were taken to 14Km to Choeung Ek or "The Killing Fields" as they are more commonly known and killed bya number of methods Such as Bamboo canes, beaten, knifed and women and young children were often thrown against a tree smashing there skulls and left to die. They were thrown into mass graves numbering sometimes in excess of 150 bodies in shallow graves and covered up.
Our guide through these places was Sam who experienced first hand the brutality of the Khmer Rouge and was a victim himself. Often he would be cagey about speaking about some of the attrocities in-case anyone over-heard. It is thought that the Khmer rouge Ended when Pol Pot died but as he explained it is thought that Pol Pot was not the only one and that some of the so called democratic government were actually involved - insinuating that it is dot quite a democracy in Cambodia as it is lead to beleive.
Choeung Ek Today has become a museum of rememberence to pay tribute to the people that died during the 4 years before the Vietnamese liberated them. It is here that there stands a tall building filled with some of the 8,000 skulls recovered from the mass graves. Small craters remain where bodies were found and beside them some of the clothing that was worn by the victims remain half unearthed in the soil.
The last night in Phnom Penh is somewhat of a blur no thanks to Krista, Who along with myself, Mike and dave went off to a club called "The heart of Darkness" - yup getting a picture of the place already to make sure that any remaining brain cells that weren't killed off at the bar earlier where well and trully destroyed. Only trouble with that is the next morning was a 6 o clock start for a 6 hour bus ride to Siem Reap :(