From the beach we headed to Cambodia’s hectic capital – Phnom Penh. We caught a bus from Thailand to Cambodia, and had an interesting time at the border. As we entered Cambodia, an official pointed a laser light at us for a “health check,” and asked for roughly $1. We then had the option of paying an additional amount for their express visa service, and once across were told we could wait around for 5 hours for our pre-booked bus, or pay an additional $10 for a bus that was about to leave. All these fees seemed rather fishy to me! But if you don’t pay, you’re stuck at a little border crossing in the middle of nowhere. As long as the facilitation payments are less than $20, I’ll tolerate it.
Anyways… we were finally on our way to the capital. To be honest, I had mixed feelings about Phnom Penh. We met many very welcoming and nice people, but the city has quite a rough feel to it. Albeit understandably, as there is quite a lot of poverty in the area. The palace and temples in the city are very nice, and showcase the rich culture and history of Cambodia.
There are also two very dark, but worthwhile sites to visit while in Phnom Penh. First is the Killing Fields, a location where over one million people were murdered in the 1970s. This took place when the Khmer Rouge (a country inspired Communist revolution) held power in the country. The Killing Fields is now a memorial for the victims, and outlines the history in quite a respectful manner. The second site is the S21 Prison, where the Khmer Rouge held, tortured, and killed many people. Again, this is quite dark, but it’s important to remember the past so that we don’t repeat it. We don’t have photos of these two sites, as we thought it would be somewhat inappropriate.
Enough with the heavy stuff. While in Phnom Penh we took a day to check out some of the local markets and restaurants. The central market is packed, and has all kinds of stuff! The mango smoothies are to die for on a hot day, and cost less than $1! Later we stopped for dinner at a restaurant, and noticed a tank full of tarantula! If you’re adventurous, you can choose your preferred spider and have it cooked up in a variety of ways.
From the capital, we head northwest to Battambang!
Photos by Jon Lang
Asia trip – 2015