After our 5 hour journey on the Cambodian karaoke bus we pulled into Phnom Penh, the capital. We felt as if we were famous when we got off the coach, loads of tuk tuk drivers trying to get the westerners to go with them, we managed to get on for 4 people for $1! We headed to the lake area and No Problem, guesthouse which was recommended by Dags and Jonno. We had a nice room for $6. We went downstairs and their was free pool and a DVD playing or you could just sit and look out over the lake. We sat and had a few drinks and had a Amok curry it was not that nice. There was a big crowd at the guesthouse which made a nice atmosphere and the staff were extremely friendly.
The next day the tuk tuk driver that had brought us from the bus was waiting outside to take us out for the day, although we made sure we had breakfast first. Our first stop was S21, the former school used by pol pot to imprison, torture and kill. It was all very eerie and not a nice place, quite disturbing. The torture rooms have been left as they were found with a bed frame in them, the cells were made of wood and were so small, the most harrowing was the mug shots of the prisoners, men, women and children nearly all were killed, only 7 survived. Our next stop was the killing fields about 5km out of the city, this was just as harrowing. At the entrance is a monument with skulls in, there was also a brief explanation of the horrors that occurred there. The site itself is quite barren, but you 10 minutes was enough for us as it was a pretty horrific place, even though nothing remains. Our next stop was the National Museum which was not the best but had some good relics from the Angkor Temples. Our final stop was the Silver Pagoda and the Royal Palace, we make a mistake as soon as we got there and ended up walking the wrong was around and ended up having to explain to the ticket officers who luckily enough let us back in. The Palace was quite disappointing nothing like the one in Bangkok. The exterior was very grand, but we were only allowed in 2 of the buildings, which housed a few Cambodian Royal relics. The Silver Pagoda was better it houses a Buddha statue and had silver tiles over the floor it is all very grand. After this hectic day we were worn out so we got back to the guesthouse for some lunch. In the evening we went along by the lake for some food and I ended up having a Roast Beef sandwich, Wayne had a Roast Lamb dinner we then had a few Angkor beers and watched the Sunday afternoon premiership football!
Phnom Penh is totally different to Siem Reap and it really has highlighted how poor the country is. There are lots of people that have been affected by landmines, just begging on the street and also children. We were in a bar and one little girl came in trying to sell some postcards, she had great English and was talking to us for ages, she was fascinated by my nails, the sad thing was that her Dad was sat outside on a tuk tuk waiting for her, he only had one leg, her mother then came back she had also been down the road trying to sell her wares. The other scary thing is that the suffering of the Cambodian people under Pol Pots regime is still so recent, this was also brought home at the S21 as there were photos of the guards and what they are doing now, like working in the countryside they are only middle aged!