07/11/2013 - 10/11/2013
We arrived at an incredibly busy bus station / market and fought our way through all the offers of transportation in order to walk to our guesthouse.
Cambodia felt quite similar to Vietnam, just with slightly less bikes and slightly more cars. You still couldn't walk on the pavement, so in amongst the melee it was.
It was a decent walk to the guesthouse, though not too bad. We stayed at Velkommen Guesthouse, which I really liked. The staff were friendly and the rooms were nice and clean. When we were looking for somewhere to stay, we narrowed it down to Velkommen and one other place. Both sounded good but not outstanding. It ended up being the rave reviews of cleanliness at Velkommen that swung it for me. Especially as one of the reviews for the other place mentioned cockroaches, which are apparently common in Cambodia, but still. We happily didn't have any cockroaches at Velkommen. We did have a teeny tiny lizard at one point but he was a welcome guest.
On our first full day in Phnom Penh we paid for a tuk tuk driver for the day (which isn’t much), to take us to the Killing Fields and also the Genocide Museum (which is the old prison). For anyone who doesn’t know, a tuk tuk’s a cart thing that’s attached to a motorbike.
The journey was partly fun and partly scary. You’re in amongst the crazy traffic, plus the road’s really bumpy in places. I also realized why so many people on bikes will wear the dust guard things over their mouths, as you do get covered in a lot of dust and grit from the roads.
The Killing Fields were really interesting. You get an audio tour thing included in the ticket price. The fact that you can still see some teeth and other bits of remains under the ground in certain places is really eerie and gives you an idea of the extent of the genocide that took place there. It was pretty hard going though, as I’m sure you can imagine.
We went to the prison after that. That’s good to see, but it got a bit too much for me when we were there. To be walking around amongst so much evidence of death, so soon after my Dad’s passing, was just really upsetting. I’d been fine at The Killing Fields, as I could separate it in my head and just concentrate on the audio guide, but there was too much chance for thinking and reflection at the prison and I had to leave. We still saw a decent amount of it though and it was a good day, just not the easiest time to be doing it.
Our second day in Phnom Penh was more laid back. We just walked around and took in a few sights, then went to a sports bar in the evening to watch the rugby.
We left Phnom Penh for Siem Reap by bus. We travelled with Giant Ibis, who were decent. The roads are pretty bad quality though, so it was quite a bumpy journey and took about 2 hours longer than it was meant to. Plus the wi-fi on board only worked for a really brief period. They’d have been better off having a toilet on the bus instead. I had a pretty uncomfortable hour of waiting for the next toilet stop! Still, we got there safely.