The Second day of Exploring Phnom Penh

This one could be subtitled the day I cried in public. As I think I alluded to in my previous post on this trip, the tragic recent history of this country was in my head during my trip. I had read a history of Pol Pot and a first person account of the Khmer Rouge before traveling there. Obviously these things are there and to a certain extent they are avoidable if you want them to be. You are reminded of them if you use a Tuk Tuk however, as every driver says to you with a smile “You want to see Killing Fields?” They also show you a placard with pictures of smiling tourists shooting off pretty much every single kind of weapon you can think of. Yes, that includes the one you are thinking of now. And yes, it also includes rocket launchers. I did not partake in this particular form of escapism nor did I try to avoid the history of the country. I decided not to go to The Killing Fields however and kept my historical tragedy tourism to the confines of the Genocide Museum.

And that was by far, more than enough for me. The tour is fantastic. You are guided along by the words of survivors and the victims themselves. The museum does not try to sugarcoat it or temper the impact it can have on you. I cried a bit hearing the story of a woman who was arrested for writing love letters and become a curiosity within the prison. Her file was the longest by far, over 500 pages, and all she did was dare to love a cadre.

I did not take many photos. They are not allowed in most parts of the museum and did not seem appropriate in the ones where they were allowed. I did take a few though.

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It sits in a residential neighborhood. The invading Vietnamese were able to find it in part by the smell of the dead bodies
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It’s the S-21 prison, which was a former school converted into an absolute portal to hell

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After that I decided to do some shopping, which in hindsight feels kind of vulgar but there is no easy transition away from something so terrible and heart wrenching. I headed up to the Russian Market.

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And of course, this being Southeast Asia, I saw some fantastic and weird sights along the way.

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Before heading to dinner I decided to check out Wat Phnom. It is the temple from which the city gets it’s name and is built on literally the only hill in the entire city.

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The woman founder of the Wat a long long time ago

 

Next it was back to the riverside to wait for the night market to start so I could get some good food in me. One of the things I try to do when I travel is find “the shot”. I think every trip has at least one great image from it, one picture I take that I will gladly put on my wall for the rest of my life. I was convinced that the great shot in Phnom Penh would be of monks riding on bikes in traffic. So while I waited I took a lot of photos trying to capture monks riding on bikes in traffic.

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Then I just went full blown creeper mode and tried to take a stealth photo of a monk.

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I am 100% sure that he 1000% knew I took a photo of him. Turns out I was trying to hard. “The Shot” of this trip would come tomorrow and it would involve no monks.

Off to dinner! I bet you are wondering what I ate at the night market in Phnom Penh. Well, keep wondering! There will be helpful hints about how to lose weight in Malaysia when you are traveling to Phnom Penh in a future blog post of course.

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The communal dining area of the night market

The market itself was like most markets in SE Asia. Awesome and fairly predictable.

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That’s it for part two. Join me in part three when I take a long ride into the countryside that may or may not have been worth it.

Phnom Penh adalah cantik tapi kotor. Saya teruja pergi ke Siem Reap dalam beberapa minggu!

Jumpa lagi!

 

Kevin


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