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Al's epic odyssey "A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." - Lao Tzu

Phnom Penh - passing through again

CAMBODIA | Tuesday, 29 September 2009 | Views [509]

It seems that everything passes through Phnom Penh, so I was back in the city for a few days before heading further north.

The drive up from Sihinoukville was interesting. I was on a much cheaper bus than the one I went down on and as I expected it was pretty crowded with locals, which generally means far more unscheduled stops along the route. I had a front row seat which I thought would be good as I’d be able to see what was happening on the road ahead. In hindsight it’s probably best not to know. The hooter is generally used instead of the breaks. Double white centre lines seem to mean ‘hoot while overtaking’ to warn others around the blind corner to expect a bus on their side of the road. On occasions I could make out the whites of the eyes of the oncoming driver. I think on the next trip I’m going to sit as far back as possible, away from the hooter and the karaoke machine blaring out Cambodian love songs.

Back in Phnom Penh I decided to stay nearer the river this time and I found a tiny little room, but perfectly adequate and within budget. The internet was free but incredibly slow. May of the cheaper rooms have no window, or a window onto an internal corridor. This one had a window, but no view so I may just get a windowless room in the future.

I visited the Genocide Museum. It was a school that was converted into a prison and a place of torture and killing by the Khmer Rouge between 1976 and 1979. Over 70000 people spent time there and only a few survived. All ages, men and women, boys and girls, many children. It was a truly horrific place. It has been preserved much as it was found and is an awful reminder of mans’ inhumanity to man. What makes this different for me is that I was a teenager at the time and I remember reading about Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, but it was in a remote part of the world. I now have a better understanding of the events of the time, it must have been truly awful. It’s possible that up to two million people may have been killed. Every person in Cambodia over the age of 30 must have been traumatized or affected in some way or another. Many of those responsible have simply re-integrated back into society. The trials of some of the remaining leaders are only taking place now.

The French left Cambodia a long time ago, but the French culture is still quite noticeable. The major roads are large French style boulevards and baguettes get served with everything. I even saw a group of locals playing boule.

After a weekend in Phnom Penh, it’s time to move on and up to Siem Reap – stepping off point for the Angkor Wat Temples.

Facebook photos at: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=327886&id=744675149&l=23ae4d478d

Tags: phnom penh, touls slang genocide museum

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