On our first full day we wanted to fit in as many activities as possible. We had many lazy days in Thailand and didn’t do a great deal in Siem Reap, so felt like we needed to make up for it. The first thing we wanted to do was arrange our visa for Vietnam. So we headed to an agency who can arrange it for you, for a $2 fee. We ended up paying $42 in total, but heard from other people we met along the way they had paid between $50-$80! When applying for your visa, you had to tell them the date you want to enter. We picked a date towards the end of the month, so we didn’t have to rush and could spend lots of time in each place. After dropping our passports off at the Visa place we headed out for the day. We went to the National museum of Cambodia. As we didn’t pay for the audio tour we had no clue at what we were looking at. I’ll be honest it wasn’t the best museum I’ve been to. However they had a beautiful courtyard in the middle. While we were sat out in it, enjoying the sun a bird released its bowls on Sam. So we now remember it as the museum that Sam got shit on by a bird.
After the bird poo museum we went to check out the central market. It’s massive, hundreds of stalls. It was very similar to the markets in Bangkok. It’s not that fun when you’re not going with the intention of buying something. After the market we went to Wat Phnom, which is a small park with a temple in the middle. We had a little wonder around the park and went to see the temple. Afterwards we headed to towards the river side. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but the river in Phnom Penh was pretty grim. I had visions of it being like taking a romantic stroll down the Seine in Paris. It was more like seeing a trolley float by in the Irwell.
We thought the river was a bit too vile for our liking, so decided to cut back to our guesthouse. We made a huge mistake deciding to cut though a local market. The stench was so over powering. It was a mix of the bucket of skinned dead frogs, the still live fish, which were flapping about, mixed with animal heads and other body parts that were on display. One fish flapped so vigorously, it threw itself of the tray it was being displayed on and ended on the floor. The woman selling it just picked it back up and popped it back on the tray. I think that flapping fish and the stench of the pig head/chickens feet will repeat on me for a while.
The main reason people come to visit Phnom Penh, is to visit The Killing Fields and S21. They are extremely somber places to visit, but an absolute must. We were incredibly touched and shocked about what we learnt there. Our Tuk Tuk driver for the day had the kindest face. One of the only smiles we had seen since we arrived to Phnom Phen. Everyone else here seemed very moody compared to Siem Reap.
The dive over to the killing fields is quite long, and really makes you reflect on it on the drive back. Driving though the small villages to get there, we felt we were a long way from the busy city we had just left. The trip was very informative and really helped you grasp what had happened and the full brutality the country had gone though. It was extremely tough to hear some of the personal accounts on the audio guide. We really had no idea before coming to Cambodia the extent in which the Khmer Rouge took over and destroyed so many lives. It’s so hard to even comprehend how it even happened. The experience was very somber but I’m really glad we got a chance to visit. The people of Cambodia seem so positive now and it makes you realise what an incredible Country it is. After the killing fields we went to the Genocide museum, which originally was a school, but was turned in to a prison and place of torture by the Khmer Rouge. We had another audio guide which was very informative. So many people were brought here and tortured for no reason. It’s pretty hard to explain in a blog about what we learnt about as it was so brutal. It was a very tough day, but it really was an experience we won’t forget.