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running away Traveling south east asia, china, australia, new zealand and america. wherever the mood takes me!

phnom penh

CAMBODIA | Wednesday, 12 November 2008 | Views [565]

The bus ride to Phnom Penh was a little eventful, in that it broke down not far from siem reap. Some thing like the belt broke and we had to wait for a new one to be brought to us. So it was fun to wait around for an hour while the buss was getting fixed. I meet a couple on the bus she was from America and the guy was Irish. They were on their way to Australia where they were going to work for awhile. When we arrived into Phnom Penh we decided to share a tuk tuk to the guest house I was going to stay in as they weren't sure where they wanted to go. When we first got off the bus I asked a tuk tuk driver how much to the guest house, he said 6 dollars, very far. I laughed and said too much. As we were walking away, he said to me 3 dollars instead. 3 dollars I could do. I went to ask the couple what they thought and they said fine. I went ahead and said OK, 3dollars. So we got in the tuk tuk and he brought us to the guesthouse. When we got out, we gave him the 3 dollars and he started to get angry at us, saying 6 dollars too far. I said to him that he said 3 dollars and went to walk away and he goes no 6 dollars very far. And pushes me back saying we go to police. I was getting so angry. I said don't push me. He said 6 dollars, too far, not 3. I said well you shouldn't say 3 dollars then. I wanted to get away from him so I went to give him one more dollar and the couple decided to give one too. So that was 5 dollars. I said no more, you said 3 dollars and then I walked away. I couldn't believe it, what a welcome to Phnom Penh Too finish it off there was only a single room left so the couple had to leave and go somewhere else. What could I do?

I had to wait for the room though, as it wasn't ready even though it was like 7 at night. So I sat down and ordered some food. The place was quite busy so I sat down in an empty chair close to a group that were speaking French. After I ordered another guy to join the group so he ended up sitting opposite me. He was quite cute. We ended up talking and I found out they just arrived from saigon. They were all on tour together and that's how he met the rest of the group. he was a nice guy he was from Belgium. Travelling on his own. Just after travelling in Vietnam for a couple weeks, has a few days in Cambodia before heading back home. After I ate I went to check in, saying see you later to the Belgium. guy. I got my room and took a shower to freshen up. I went down to go on the internet, and when I got back downstairs, Belgium. guy was sitting on his own, so I went over and said they leave you by yourself? We got talking again he was a really nice guy, haven't met many belguimsbefore. We ended up guessing each others age. We both got it right. And then he tried to tell me that I was taller than him. I didn't think so I thought we were atleast the same height or he was taller. So he wanted us to guess. He stood up first and then I had to stand up. And then we guessed each others height. Although he ended up doing some calculation because I only know my height in feet and he knew his in metres. After some maths we figured out he was taller by about 4 inches. Ha ha. Anyway he said he was thinking of walking around the city if I fancied joining him. But he needed to take a shower first and call his sister. I said no problem I want to go on the internet so he could find me there when he was ready.

I finished what I wanted to do on the internet but also got fed up as the internet so quite slow and bad, and there was still no sign of Belgium. guy. So I watched TV, down in the common room for awhile, but still no sign. I was getting quite tired at this stage so I decided to go to bed thinking he changed his mind or had left already.

Next morning I went down for breakfast, and while I was waiting for my order, Belgium. guy came down. He apologized for last night saying he was on the phone longer than he expected and I was gone when he came down. It was no problem. He then said he was off to see the tuol sleng museum and the killing fields, and offered for me to go with him as it would be cheaper to share a tuk tuk. That was great so I had to finish my breakfast fast, as he wanted to get to the tuol sleng museum before 10 as there was a video shown every morning at that time. So we jumped into the tuk tuk and made our way there. We arrived alittle late but we snuck in quietly. The video lasted an hour, but I don't think it was very good. It could have shown a lot more I think and as some times it was hard to hear it. It also didn't help that the fans weren't working for most of the film so we were sitting in the stuffy heat. The video went through what it was like for people during the Khmer rouge period, that they were split up from families and friends. And people were afraid to talk to each other incase they were seen as revolutionaries. The also talked about how the tuol sleug museum used to be a high school but the Khmer rouge turned it into a prison called S21, the largest centre for detention and torture in the country. Where almost everyone who was held there was killed later at the killing fields. After the film we walked around the museum, it was heart breaking to read accounts of peoples lives that were written on the walls and the rooms were they were kept. Also to see the rooms were people were tortured. They had some paintings up on the walls depicting different types of torture used. It just showed how cruel the human race really could be. I also think it was most frighten cause it seemed to be the most recent genocide and I think most brutal in how they were all killed. There was no bullets, no gas, it was all done by hand.

I was glad to have someone to walk around with. As the museum was a heart wretching place and it was nice to share it with someone and talk about it. There was too much emotion experienced, that it had to expressed someway.

After that we went to the killing fields. The most striking thing is the big memorial, I guess you could call it, where they have taken every skull that they have found from the mass graves and put behind glass panels and shelved all the way up this tall building. Its very potent. Other than that you can wander around these dips in the ground where the graves used to be. Its not something I would visit everyday and if I knew exactly what was there I don't think I would have gone.

On the way to the killing fields I finally found out my Belgium. guys name. I know I'm so bad. I'm always doing that, hanging out with someone for ages before finding out what their name is. Anyway he's name was remko, he said it was like rambo. And I laughed saying he wished. Atleast we were able to make the situation alittle bit more light. As the whole experience was abit too heavy. Remko is a forester at home so he was telling a few things about different plants I didn't know around the graves and he ended up chasing around after butterflies to try and get a picture.

After that we heading back into town to see the Russian market. It looked like any other market really, not to sure why it was called the Russian market. We were wandering around and came across some shoes and runners. Remko was thinking of buying some, he was originally going to do it in Bangkok but he didn't think he was going to have enough time. But he had to find an ATM first. So wee left the market again and looked for one. We found one easy enough and remko decided he wanted to try a fresh coconut. So he bought me one as well. I told him I didn't like coconut but he said he didn't either. Ha ha.

I have to say it was really nice. Kinda like water really. I so glad he bought one for me as I don't think I would have bought one for myself to try first. So now I know I like fresh coconut.

We went back in to have a look around. I didn't buy anything, just had fun watching remko haggling with all the stall girls. He bought magnets and kept saying 2 for 1. and the girl said no 4 for 3. and he kept looking at them and said 2 for 1 again and she said no 4 for 3 . he finally got her down to 3 for 2 but it took awhile. But he ended up buying four anyway. Ha ha.

After that we were wandering around and he wanted to go back to the shoe stall he saw on the way in. now if you have been in a Asian market you know what I mean when after alittle while you lose all sense of direction. You actually have to leave the market to figure out where you are. Remko wanted to go in a totally different direction than I thought the shoe stall was. When I said it was the other direction, he said are you sure. I was pretty sure so he said we would try it and find out but he had never known a girl who had a good direction sense before. Ha ha. So we wandered along, remko was following behind me and was saying I don't think this is the right way, when we turned the corner and there we were, right in front of it. So I just raised my eyebrows at him and shrugged and he just shrugged back. Ha ha. I didn't have to say anything and it felt good. Ha ha

so I got to watch him haggle again. It was really funny, we were there for nearly hour before he finally wore her down and he got the price he wanted. It wasn't actually the price it was the fun he was having haggling with her. He even has haggling with the girl in the stall beside the shoe stall so she could get her shoe back. Ha ha what happen was he was talking with the girls in the other stall too and they took his sandal when he was looking. They had great fun over that, hiding it from him, but he got it back. But he took one of the girls shoes when she wasn't looking and he was saying he didn't take it but he had one similar to it for 10 dollars. Ha ha. It was good fun.

We got our tuk tuk back to the guesthouse, it was still early so remko said did I fancy walking with him to go see the lake. On the map it looked far enough but remko said that on the maps they look further than they really are.

Well we found out that it was far and that Phnom Penh was a city. Ha ha

we decided to walk along the river which turned our great cause the water festival was starting in the next couple of days. So there was loads of people hanging around watching the boats on the river as they were training for the boat races. There were loads of different country flags flying all the way down the river. Remko found the Belgium. one but I never did find an Irish. one. So I had to make do with the American one. We finally got to the area where the lake was suppose to be but we never actually got to see the lake in the end. Ha ha. We were so hungry when we got there we just ate our dinner and got a tuk tuk back to the guesthouse. Ha ha

when we arrived back I told remko I was going for a shower and I would see him later. After I had freshened up I went back down stairs and I was thinking that we never arranged for us to meet back up again. So instead of waiting around just incase he didn't come down again I headed out to see if there was anything happening near by. I could hear music not to far away so I headed towards it and I found a water fountain that was all lit up with crowds of people hanging around it. So I headed over to see what was happening. The lights were changing from white to green to blue to red and loads of other colours too but what really had people there watching was when the music started, the water fountain would be choreographed to the music. And it was really funny cause the music that was playing was dance music and I don't think you can choreograph dance music to a water fountain very well.

It wasn't bad though and I got a giggle out of it, so I stayed and watched a few different displays. After awhile I decided to head back to the guesthouse to see if remko was around. I got back there and he was sitting down with a beer asking me were I disappeared to. I said I told him I went for a shower but he said he didn't hear me. He then said he fancied heading out for drinks that night did I fancy joining him. It was his last night in Cambodia and he wanted to have fun. Well if you know me I never say no to a night out, so we head out walking along the river to see what we could find.

As we were walking along we got stopped by some tuk tuk drivers asking us did we want a tuk tuk. And as always the automatic response is no thank you with a smile. But remko stopped and asked them was there somewhere to go out. The tuk tuk driver then told us about this place called the heart of darkness, he said it was the place to go and a lot of foreigners would end up there. So remko said that it sounded go and got the tuk tuk driver to bring us. On the way we were talking to the driver and he asked our names and remko said that his name was like rambo and the driver goes that his name was actually rambo. I burst out laughing and remko says no, really rambo, I don't believe you. He goes yes really I will show you. So when we arrive to the place, the driver went to pull some id from his wallet. But there was nothing there, he said it was at home and didn't have it with him. Remko looks at me and says I don't believe it. But the driver wanted to know how long we would be cause he would wait for us to bring us back to our guesthouse. But remko was saying it could be an hour, it could be all night, we didn't know. So he invited the driver in for a drink and he said we will check it out. So the driver came in with us. We got searched on our way into the place, first time that has ever happened to me. I got my bag searched before but not a body search.

We got inside and it was still quite quiet. It wasn't suppose to get busy till after 12. but it was OK. I think there was a lot of working girls there, and remko got a lot of propositions. He didn't know what to do. It was quite funny really. I wasn't safe either. I had a couple of Khmer guys come after me too and a morocco man. Who was really full on. I wonder if that normally works for him.

In all it was a good night and an experience. I wouldn't have wanted to have been there on my own. The driver also ended up spending the night out with us, he only had one drink and was on the water after that, very responsible. And he gave us our lift back to our guesthouse like he promised us.

Next day was pretty quiet, I was suppose to be couch surfing in Phnom Penh as well but my host never got back to me. Which was fine but I thought abit rude, if he couldn't host he should've just say so. I got up late and just hung around the guesthouse. I found out there was alittle cs (couchsurfing) get together up in the town so I was going to go to that later. Remko got up late too and he had to leave that day and get to the airport. He had to leave extra early as the water festival was on still and he had to get through traffic and there was also roads closed for it. So I had to say good bye, to my Belgium. friend. I was actually a nice couple of days. I found him awful funny. I'm glad I met him.

That evening I left early for the cs gathering and I decided to check out what was happening by the river. As I got there the last of the boat races were finishing but the Khmer people were stilling hanging around. So I hung around with them not sure what to expect. I had a feeling they were going to float these water floats I saw them getting ready during the day. And it would be nice to see them float by while they were all lit up. But they also had a fireworks show. It was nice nothing spectacular so they seem to make the fireworks last forever, over an hour. So there was any finale or anything from what I could see. But it was nice to hear the Khmer crowd go ohhh and ahhh over the fireworks and the loud bangs they made.

From there I went to the gathering. It was a quiet affair. Just a couple of us got together to have a few drinks and a chat. It was really nice just to hang out like that and chill for the evening as I wasn't looking for a repeat performance of last night.

I had decided to extend my trip in Cambodia I didn't want to just have seen the two biggest cities and said I was in Cambodia So I decided to head north and try and see the irrawaddy dolphins up in kratie. So I booked my bus for there and I was to leave the next day. So it was my last night in Phnom Penh I had been emailing the monk sareth back and forth over the last couple of days so I was going to try and meet him today. He said he had to go out and leach some meditation in some ones else house but he said he should be back after 4 so I could come around then. So before then I decided to see if I could go visit the palace there and I would go and have a look around his temple so that when I came back later I would know where to go to find sareth.

I went towards the palace only to find out that it was closed for the water festival. I guessed I had to wait till I came back from the north to go see it. So I left there and went walking around. I came across the natural museum. Where there were a lot of artifacts from Khmer history, stone sculpture and ancient artifacts. It was quite interesting.

From there I went to find the Uonalum temple were sareth was based. He said he was the manager of house number 11. I found what I thought was the temple, it was in this big compound with loads of different buildings in it and some of them had numbers on it. So I went in search of number 11. I didn't see any number 11 as not all houses had numbers on it but I decided I would ask around when I came back later to meet him.

I left there and went towards the river again, where all the crowds of people were. I stood by the river with all the Khmer people. It was fun to people watch and absorb the atmosphere. I think they were a little surprised to see me stand among them as there was an international stand for foreigners only furthered own the river. But I didn't want to experience the water festival with other foreigners.

Later that day when I went back to find sareth, it wasn't that difficult to find house number 11. but unfortunately he was there yet. The other monks there said he would be back soon, so I went off again saying I would be back later and I headed off for dinner. I arrived back about an hour and a half later but there was still no sign of him. He had written that he should be back by 4 but now it was about half 5, so I decided something must have happen and I would e-mail him later to find out. So I headed back to the guesthouse for an early night as I had to be up early to get my bus to kratie.

Tags: killing fields, phnom penh, s21, water festival


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