After a smooth landing on the airport of Phnom Penh we were guided to the small area for visa application. We filled in some more forms, next to the ones we had already filled in in the airplane and brought it with our passports and a photo to the desk. We walked to another desk, payed and got our passports back after which we walked through the immigration. Some more stamps and we were in Cambodia!
Immediately we were overwhelmed by the amount of people on the other side of the gate, were you officially walk out of the arrival hall. Were Singapore was so peaceful and no one would bother you was Phnom Penh the city of “TUKTUK?!?!” combined with people who touch you to get attention. We decided to walk out of the parking area to get a cheaper tuktuk, on the terrain of the airport the tuktuk drivers where all asking for $5-7 for a 1,5 km ride. When we walked out plenty of tuktuk drivers were waiting for us and happy to bring us for $2.
The hostel we booked was nice clean and had a sort of kitchen which you could use for free. Since it was already quite late and the hotel was located far from the centre we decided to have some bread in the kitchen and go to sleep.
The next morning I didn’t feel so well, an allergic reaction on the bed sheets gave me a super runny nose. After a bit of relaxing we went to the city centre with the local bus around noon. We got some lunch and walked to the Royal Palace of Phnom Penh, nice and interesting to see but incomparable to the royal palace of Bangkok we had already seen in the beginning of our trip. At night we had again some bread at the hostel and went to bed early because the next day it was time to go to the Killingfields and the Tuol Sleng prison, two of the sad highlights of Cambodia.
The next day we stepped out of the hostel at 9, wondering to see if the tuktuk driver with whom we made an appointment the day before was actually showing up. I knew already that he wasn’t coming but Michael had still his doubts, indeed he wasn’t there but luckily there were enough tuktuk drivers around so we could make a day deal with one of them. He would drive us to the Killing Fields, the prison and back to the hostel for $15 and wait for us in between. The Killing Fields are quite far out of town and so it was quite a ride, it took us over an hour to get there and unfortunate we didn’t brought any face masks because the pollution and sand in the air were almost unbearable.
When we arrived at the Killing Fields we bought our tickets for $6 each, including audio tour in Dutch! An explanation of what the Khmer Rouge did to the Cambodian people guided us through the area which is called the Killing Fields. Slowly we headed to areas at which gruel things happened. At the point where the audiotour guide described how babies were killed against the tree we were looking at, I had to fight against the tears. What Pol Pot did to his own people is crazy and also very recent, which makes it a very sensitive subject among Cambodians.
After we finished the audio guide we headed to a small museum to see some pictures and stories about the live after the khmer rouge.
When we drove back in the direction of the prison in the city centre we had some lunch at a nice vegetarian restaurant. Which was a good escape for our minds.
Our next stop was the Tuol Sleng prison, or also called S21. This was the place where they imprisoned the “wrong” Cambodians (meaning Cambodians whom were highly educated, with glasses or from the city) before they were sent to one of the killing fields to be slaughtered. They had to have a “legit” reason for killing people so they were tortured until they wrote their own confession of all the wrong things they had done. Usually these confessions were all made up just to stop the torture. When the confession was “good enough” they were sent to the killing fields. In the prison we had an audio tour as well which made the walk through the old cages and torture rooms very alive.
We were finished around 16.00 but totally broken and wanted some rest. We headed back to the hotel to eat some instant noodles on Sinterklaas evening and drink some wine. It was a very impressive day.
The next day it was time to move to Sihanoukville to “receive” my gift from UNGA. Sihanoukville is the port to Koh Rong Samloem the island on which lazy beach is located. After a 6 hour trip we had to stay one night in Sihanoukville to go with the boat of 12 o’clock the next day.
Sihanoukville is nice but very touristy, we had a nice cheap dinner though and we decided to buy new swimming suits for our 3 night stay at Lazy beach.