Travel: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

This is the continuation story of our recent trip to Cambodia. I took a short hiatus from travel blogging since I’m VERY busy with work these past few days. As in yung level ng kabusy-han na CR na lang ang pahinga. Pero thanks Lord, ok na ito kesa wala. At least may pang pondo pa ng future lakwatsa. Hehe! 🙂

Speaking of Cambodia, I’ve already shared the first part which is the Siem Reap tour. After spending a day in Siem Reap, we took the midnight bus going back to Phnom Penh. It’s 6 hours of travel time so we’re just sleeping the entire time during the travel. Compared to the first bus (Phnom Penh to Siem Reap), the bus bound for Phnom Penh is better in a sense that there’s more leg room and the bus itself is more spacious. The ticket costs $USD9.

Boyfriend and I were both very tired and someone from the guesthouse was supposed to pick us up from the bus terminal. But then we couldn’t wait any longer so (we) settled for the ‘persistent/annoying’ tuktuk driver and told him to bring us to Me Mates Guesthouse. We’re lucky that the place is just a couple of blocks away from the bus terminal, less hassle.

After some power nap, we started the tour at around 10AM. We rented a tuktuk for a whole day and it cost $USD20. Ang sarap mag tuktuk, hindi masikip gaya ng tricycle sa amin sa Talipapa!!! 

First stop, Choeung Ek Killing Fields. As the name implies, the place is a big mass of land where people were killed and buried during the Khmer Rouge era. Tourists are not allowed to make noise to give respect to the millions of people killed in this place. I know it’s not kind of a good idea to spend a happy holiday in this kind of place because it’s a bit gloomy and depressing. But at least, there’s awareness and learning experience brought about by this trip. Field trip lang ang peg.

Choeung Ek Killing Fields

Mass Grave

Next stop, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. The place was an old school building and converted to become a prison and torture place for the Khmer Rouge victims. At the entrance, you’ll see the graves of the last 14 victims found at the site. There are 4 main buildings in which you will see the photo galleries of victims, prison cells, torture chambers and other memorabilia.

Supposed to be for exercise but later used for torturing victims

Tuol Sleng

It’s kind of depressing looking at the pictures of the victims. There’s a heavy feeling looking at them and you could just sense how scared they were by the way they look back at you. Some stared blankly at the camera, as if accepting their fate and giving their lives to the tormentors. As I was editing some of the pictures, the faces kind of stuck at my memory and I couldn’t sleep after.

Black and White Photographs

Fortunately, we met Mr Bou Meng, one of the remaining survivors in Tuol Sleng. He’s an artist and made use of his painting skills to survive. His wife and some relatives did not survive though. He sells his autobiography book and signs it for free. We bought a book each and had a picture with him. It’s kind of surreal, meeting a survivor in person.

 Me and Mr Bou Meng

We ended the lonely yet educational trip, and asked the tuktuk driver to bring us to Royal Palace for our last stop. It was similar almost to Bangkok’s Grand Palace. We’re supposed to be happy now…but no. Ang ineeeeeetttt!!! There are lots of different structures inside the compound. Nakakatamad lang gumala kung tirik ang araw.

Royal Palace

We actually prefer Siem Reap over Phnom Penh maybe because the places we visited in Phnom Penh aren’t really the happy kind of places, I mean for a weekend holiday. It’s just like the Philippines wherein provinces and outskirts are much better than the city itself. Plus, we both got sick (during/after) the trip so blah. Not so good memories after all.

If you’re interested to go to Cambodia, here are some friendly tips:

  • Use USD rather than Riel. Though riels can be use for smaller purchases, it’s handy bringing a USD anytime…anywhere.

  • Bring an umbrella, sunblock, pashmina or any sun protection you can think of. If you want to get a ‘tan’, go visit Angkor Wat and Royal Palace.

  • Don’t be fooled by some locals asking you to pray over some god or statue, only to end up being scammed and asked for donations. Just walk straight and join the other tourists!

  • Cambodians are generally nice people. You’ll always encounter persistent sellers, street kids, beggars and tuktuk drivers ANYWHERE you go. Be polite.

Note: I don’t have much pictures in Phnom Penh (you probably know why). But here’s a few of them.