Travel Tales: Indochina, Phnom Penh leg

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Phnom Penh selfie. Look at my oily face, lol!

Brace yourself, this is another long post, lol. After Bangkok and Siem Reap, our next stop is Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. We booked a tourist bus that will leave Siem Reap at 6PM, and estimated arrival in Phnom Penh will be around 12 midnight. So after the Ton Le Sap Lake tour, we went back to our hotel, packed our bags and waited for the van to pick us up. There were two things that happened to us in Siem Reap. First, 1/3 of the squad (squad talaga) had to go back home. Our friend Jowa decided to go home, because a week before our trip, his fever was on and off, and he was dehydrated. The doctor told him that it could be dengue, but, of course he still joined. Except that when we were in Siem Reap, he decided he really wanted to go home because he was not really feeling okay – turns out, he has typhoid fever. Kaloka. So, it was just going to be Liezl and me from Phnom Penh onwards. The second thing that happened was, the bus that was supposed to take us to Phnom Penh at 6PM left without us!!! It’s a good thing our hotel front desk was really nice, because they were the ones who called the agency where we booked the ticket and helped us get confirmed on an 8PM departure time instead. So, we went back to Pub Street, had dinner, wasted time wandering around (we left our bags at the agency office), had a foot massage, wala lang, until it was time to leave. From Pub Street, a tuktuk drove us to a bus terminal, where we waited for about 20 more minutes.

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What to bring for overnight bus trips

I only remembered there was one stop, but I think, there was 2 or 3? I slept thru the whole trip so I don’t really know. The bus that we took only stops at Phnom Penh, because its final destination is in Sihanoukville – which is I think 6-7 more hours from the city. We arrived Phnom Penh at around 230AM, and due to grogginess, we were halfway thru our hotel when I realized I forgot my GoPro inside the bus!!!!! Worst feeling ever!!! The tuktuk driver drove us back to the bus stop, and I was really thankful to the Heavens because the bus had a stop-over, and my camera was still where I left it. It’s an “I can’t even” kind of feeling that deserves a meme, haha.

We booked our Phnom Penh tour directly at the hotel, because: we didn’t really want to make any more effort to go to different agencies and ask. We got ours for $20 for the entire day trip, which according to a friend of mine who had the same tour – is almost the standard rate. Our call time was 8 in the morning, and the first stop was The Killing Fields. We realized that we were so not ready for the tour – because it was so heart-breaking and depressing! I read a little bit on Cambodia’s history regarding their civil war, but I didn’t expect for it to be so brutal. But of course learning about a country’s history is always part of why I love to travel.

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At The Killing Fields
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The Dead on display

At the Killing Fields, you are given your own audio player and you are free to do the tour at your own pace. So, you choose a number on the player, listen to it and go to the designated spot. The photos above are samples of spots for you to check while listening. They also offer guided tours in case you prefer that. But I guess listening and doing it on your own has a certain solemnity and eeriness to it that makes it more appealing I guess?

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I’m not really sure what the bracelets are for but I guess it’s more of a memento for the lives lost because of the Khmer Rouge.

According to the tour, the leader of the Khmer Rouge killed children to make sure that they won’t grow up to get revenge on them. So, the story was they will hold the baby at their feet, and smash the heads at the tree. Seriously. It was heartbreaking!!! Grabe diba!

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After the Killing Fields, we went to the Genocide Museum. This used to be a school before the civil war started and the Khmer Rouge took over and made it into a prison.

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School hallway
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I guess this was how they marked the cells

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They built tiny prison cells in most classrooms

The classrooms were made into cells, and even up to now, you can see blood in some of the walls.

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But first, coffee!

We also dropped by one of their famous markets, the Toul Tom Poung Market, just to check what the fuss is about.

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They say that the market is famous for bargain clothes, but I would have to say Ho Chi Minh still offers the cheapest clothes out of the 3 countries we visited.

After the market, we went to Wat Phnom.

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Something to take note of: be ready to climb the stairs for this place. It’s not really high, but it was hooooooot.

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This monk had someone taking his photos and vidoes, hehe.
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Selfie time!

Liezl took a look only for a bit and she already headed back to look for a place to eat – we remembered we haven’t had any decent meal the entire day. I guess the most challenging part of the trip itself is the weather. I’m pretty sure I have repeated this over and over already, haha. I just can’t believe August will be a very humid month for Cambodia.

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Our next stop was the National Museum of Cambodia, which is already very near the Royal Palace.

We had to fight a bit with the tuktuk driver because he wanted to leave after the museum and just wanted for us to walk to the Royal Palace. If it was a different month, I would probably be okay. Except that it was SOOOOOO hot. So we reminded him of our conversation that morning and that he should bring us to our final destination. Just because we are tourists does not mean we are supposed to be okay with everything diba.

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Anyway, the Royal Palace has a strict dress code. No shorts, bare shoulders for women. They sell t-shirts at the entrance in case you don’t know, but it would still be better to be ready beforehand.

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And that is why we were fully clothed in the middle of a blazing hot Cambodian afternoon. After the tour, we went back to our hotel to rest and freshen up a bit before going to Sisowath Quay, to look for a place to have dinner.

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My overpriced dinner. Oh well. At least the placed where we had dinner had a view for people-watching. 🙂

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