Phnom Penh – the capital of Cambodia

After a detour and several stops to load and unload all kinds of goods we finally arrived at the bus station in Phnom Penh shortly before 3 pm. I shared a tuktuk with a Canadian couple from the bus. They stayed somewhere else but my place was on the way. I checked into the Lovely Jubbly Villa, had a look at their menu and decided that it is too expensive. So I walked down the street and ate at a local place.

IMAG3834 (FILEminimizer)
typical cable chaos in Phnom Penh

Already the Canadians had warned me, I have been reading that the crime rate in Phnom Penh is quite high and also in the hostels there were signs everywhere, that you should only take what you really really need, don´t use your phone in a tuktuk since they would snatch it out of your hands while driving by, people would grab and run with your handbag or even more common do that on motorbike. They won´t mind to hurt you, so better don´t carry anything around the neck blabla. Was not the very best first impression of a place and it led to me not feeling safe at all. The rest of the day I spent in the hostel, chilling on an in the pool and looking for people to share a ride to the killing fields the next day. Later I went out with a few people from the hostel. We were five people, safety in numbers, so we also dared to walk around.

We went for a few drinks in some bars close to the river and also tried a club, but the entry fee was too much. So we had a few more drinks in the Black Cat Café and went back to the hostel around 1:30. My first impression of Phnom Penh: a very smelly, dirty city with a sex tourism problem and lots of crime. I didn´t like it at all! Got up at 8 and ordered some breakfast at the hostel. Breakfast is not included here and rather expensive. I shared a tuktuk with Elise (UK) and a German guy to the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center which is about 17 km away from the city. It is the best known of the killing fields in Cambodia where the Khmer Rouge executed over one million people between 1975 and 1979. We took an audio guide and walked through the memorial site. It is just sad and unbelievable what happened here! Seeing it with your own eyes and hearing the stories was really hard to take. There are still rags and bones coming out of the earth after rain and when you keep your eyes open you just see them everywhere. People were partly killed for just wearing glasses or speaking a foreign language. They killed babies in front of the mother´s eyes by crashing them head first into a tree and sick shit like that.

From the killing field we drove back into town to the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, also called the S21. This is one of the about 200 prisons where people were tortured and forced to work until they confessed (although most of them had nothing to confess) and then brought to the killing fields for execution. In the S21 where 12000-20000 people imprisoned and only 12 survived. Who didn´t die from forced labor, malnutrition, illness or torture was killed on the killing fields. In total about 3 of the 8 Million Cambodians were killed under Pol Pot. The prison was even harder to take than the killing fields with a lot of photographs and all that. You could partly still see the blood stains on the floor. I was several times very close to tears.

We took about 2 hours each for the killing field and the prison. It is hard to take, but I think very important that people learn about it in order to prevent anything like that happening again. These two things should be on your to do list when you get to Phnom Penh and were my main reason to go there. We walked back to the hostel from the prison. We had agreed with the driver on that and got a good price ($9 for all 3 of us). That was a lot cheaper than any of the tours you can book in the hostel or on the street. We had some cheap and good lunch on the street. I chilled a bit at the pool. Later I went out for dinner with the German guy and got some stuff done before going to bed.

Since I didn´t like Phnom Penh and had seen what I wanted to see I booked a bus for the next morning. I got picked up at 8 am and was out of there.

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