Started off our Cambodian roller coaster at Phenom Penh. An awesome, up and coming beehive of a place that doesn't have time to sleep. We kicked of our first day doing breakfast with a good group of lads staying in our hostel! After a moch around town andseeing the royal palace from afar (unfortunately it was closed, but still looks incredible from outside) we headed to the cinema to watch the gut wrenching film 'killing fields'. Definitely understand a bit more about the atrocities that happened here and the context of the country we're now in. An utterly heart wrenching film.
This morning we all chipped into rent out a tuk tuk that would take us to the Choeung Ek genocidal centre. It's such a haunting place. Any form of description we attempt to put down here won't come close to touching the surface. This is the location the Khymer rouge would bring prisoners for execution in their attempt to build a communist eutopia. At one point they were bringing as many as 300 per day. As you walk around now there are still bones and teeth littered around the place. Really pulls at the heart strings being here. After finishing here we headed back into town to Tuol Sleng (S-21). This is an adapted school used as a prison where the victims of Choeung Ek lived their last few days. The sights here are grizzly and a really heavy atmosphere hangs over the entire place. A few thousand people passed through here but unfortunately only a handful actually managed to survive.
Today something a little less intense on the emotions and more heavy on the physical senses. We all jumped in a taxi and made our way across town to a barracks which included a fully kitted out shooting range - apparently top of the to-do list in phenom penh. After emptying a few pistol magazines, a colt m4, an m16 and Tom got to fire a 50cal we were free to pose with any weapons we so desired as the supervisors bogged off for lunch! Hahaha health and safety 10/10! That afternoon we jumped on a bus to sihanoukville to get a nasty end to an other fantastic day. Just ten mins outside of town our bus was hit by an enormous lorry. Fortunately nobody on the bus was injured, which is more than can be said for the lorry driver. We're luck to be slightly shaken and otherwise fine.
Last night's nerves gradually left us through the day today amd we calmed down by getting our hair trimmed. Not a bad job at all. Relaxed most of the day with Will and Liam who we have eventually caught up with!
Today we grabbed the ferry from sihanoukville over to koh rong. The boat over to KR gave us some awesome views of the other islands, literally postcard scenery everywhere. We pulled up to the jetty to be greated by the most beautiful white sands and picturesque views we have ever seen. There is a tiny little backpacker village with a few bars and restaurants and that is literally it apart from a few local inhabitations. After a few games of volley ball with other backpackers we headed out for dinner. Mixed grill BBQ: Barracuda, Shrimp and Squid $5.
Trekked across the island to Long Beach today, a completely deserted part of the island. After trekking through the jungle for 45 mins we stumbled down into paradise. We have no idea, but somehow this place keeps becoming more and more beautiful. Spent the day chilling here on the beach and had a fantastic khymer curry! The sunset was just incredible. Beer pong tonight - a valiant effort for two English guys (its like the Americans trying to play football), we won the first round but were annihilated shortly after. w***.
Beach day today just relaxing at the main village. It was chucking it down with rain all morning beacuse of the lightening storms that flicker across the sky all night, but it cleared up in no time. Jumped back on the boat that evening to sihanoukville to meet back up with Mark and ended up heading out with a few Canadians!
We paid a little more for a tour today ('once shame on you twice shame on me'...blah blah we know!) however we finally struck gold! We jumped on a really nice boat from the main land ams headed out to see another beautiful sister island of Koh Rong, Koh Rong Saloem! Somehow even more picturesque and beautiful! On the way we stopped off for snorkelling and the standard jump of the top of the three storey boat. An absolute mental hurdle for Tom. Upon arriving at the islands we had a quick trek through the jungle which was more of a wade through the river and the mangrooves. Kinda cool all the same! Back down the local bar tonight, excellent!
Unfortunately the end of our fling with paradise as we headed north back towards the capital to get cracking with Josh's aptitude tests for his scholarship.