Luckily we had no problems crossing over the border from Vietnam to Cambodia. Driving through Cambodia to the capital phnom Penh it is obvious that there is a lot more poverty here. The roads are rubble and dusty, there are a lot of shanty houses and not so many tourist hot spots. Arriving into PP a lot later than expected (again) we quickly checked into our hotel and went in search of food (Mexican!). Again we were only staying here 2 nights meaning the following day was our only full day so we were up early ready to explore. We hired a tuktuk for the day and the first stop was one of the many killing fields in Cambodia. There wasn’t overly much to see but the history behind the killing fields was amazing. Its now a very silent peaceful place but only 30/40 years ago this was the site that thousands of innocent Cambodian people were killed on, many for no reason except the communist president at the time (Pol Pot) felt threatened by them as some may have had a good education or job before his reign or just simply for the fact that he was paranoid that they were plotting against him. Whole families lost their lives here from the very young to the very old no one was safe. It was very sad hearing the story of what happened here but well worth the visit to understand Cambodia better. In some ways it’s still trying to pick itself up from the horror of what happened to them all.
After the killing fields the tuktuk driver took us to S21. S21 was a former secondary school but in the time of the communist period the president turned it into a torturous prison where again innocent Cambodians were kept and tortured until they agreed with whatever crimes were being accused against them… After they “confessed” they were sent to the killing fields. Such an unfair way to live. When it was found out what was happening in Cambodia the army came to help but it was too late for many only 7 people were rescued from S21.
It was quite a lot to take in and after our visit to the prison we called in quits and what for food and a lie down! In the evening we met a friend for tea and drinks.
Before catching our bus to Siem Reap we visited the huge local market. It was colourful, loud and very smelly with fish still flapping about half alive and meat being diced and left to dry in the sun. You need a strong stomach to take in the sights and smells of the local market!
As deprived as Cambodia looks the people seem happy, kids are out playing together, neighbours talk to each other, there is a sense of community. These people work long hard days to help develop their lives and country. It’s quite inspiring.