We arrived in phnom penh just after 6 pm and shortly after made it to our guest house – Me Mates Place. From the short tuk tuk ride from the bus station to our guest house we quickly realized this city was far more expensive than our beloved siem reap – and locals were not afraid to rip us off. We were warned that phnom penh was pricier so we sucked up the expensive guesthouse and settled down for dinner. It was upon meeting the outgoing bar and wait staff – Tony Montana – who was sporting a hat similar to my own that I realized in my eager attempt to get off the bus to rescue my bag I saw being carried away from the bus by a stranger that I had left my hat and my new paintings on the bus!!!! Quickly upon realization we hopped into a tuk tuk, overcharged again, and headed back to the bus station. After a few phone calls I was told that the bus was across the river at the depot. Relieved, we hopped in another tuk tuk and drove to the depot and picked up my belongings! It was this tuk tuk driver that we deemed a lifesaver and decided to hire him for our time in the city.
Our two nights in the city consisted of hanging out in the restaraunt of our guest house – too afraid to venture out after dark as we heard stories of travellers being mugged – so we hung out with the staff and other guests playing games.
During the day we visited the genocide museum – S 21 – which was a high school coverted into a torture prison during the civil war in 1975. It was really heartbreaking as it really makes everything seem so real. We were however lucky enough to meet one of the 7 survivors of the S21 prison and upon meeting him I was somewhat star struck in the sense that I was at a loss for words. As I tried to wrap my head around all that he went through and experienced in his life it really made me feel almost selfish for the life I’ve had and the luxuries within it to see a man stand before me in the prison, freed of his shakles but not of the vivid memories and pain that went with them. It was a truly remarkable experience and one I will not soon forget.
After S21 we went to the killing fields which again was a mind numbing experience. Walking around the killing fields you could actually see reminents of clothing and bones of the victims protruding through the ground. And in the monument in which they constructed housed the hundreds of skulls of the women, men and children that they discovered in the pits of the killing fields. It certainly made it seem real to me and again it left me with an uneasy feeling of confusion as to how my life and the lives of those who endured this montrosity could be so different. It was an unsettling experience but definitely one that put things in perspective for me.
During our stay in Phnom Penh it was the Khmer new year which meant a lot of businesses were closed which left us with little to do (which is probably a good thing considering the higher costs of things. )
This morning we packed up, said farewell to our friends at Me Mates Place and headed for the airport. We are now into the second and final lag of our flight to Bali!!!!!