Our trip into Cambodia was certainly a grueling and sometimes excruciating experience. Although looking back you have to laugh I guess. We’d been picked up shortly after 6.30am from our Chou Doc hotel and arrived at our accommodation in Phnom Penh around 5.30pm. In between this, we’d spent a torturous 90 minutes at a Vietnamese water village with a visit to a half built Mosque thrown in. A fellow tourist commented, “Well, that was interesting for about 5 seconds!”. Absolutely spot on unfortunately. We then proceeded to take the fast boat (Fast? Really?! I’d love to see how quick the slow boat goes!) to the Vietnamese / Cambodian border in an horrendous deluge where I swear the driver had no idea of what was in front of him. But, we’d made it to the Cambodian capital:
We gave in eventually to a tuk-tuk driver who just wouldn’t take no for an answer. They wear you down after a while and we’d already been asked by over a dozen drivers in the 10 minutes we’d been out of the hotel. This one was persistent so we let him take us around for the day. First stop, Wat Phnom, a 14th century Buddhist temple. Complete with a big clock.
Wat Ounalom, the centre of Cambodian Buddhism.
Back on the tuk-tuk and we asked our driver to head to the Killing Fields, one of a number of sites where potentially over 2 million people were killed in the 1970s in a state-sponsored genocide.
Hundreds of skulls, bones, clothes and other items are housed in this memorial tower amongst the fields.
It’s a pretty horrific place, as you’d expect, with bones and ragged old clothes in the ground, rising to the surface when it rains.
Mass graves were discovered all around the fields, some more barbaric and brutal than you can imagine.
After wandering around the Killing Fields in soaring 90 degree heat, our tuk-tuk driver took us to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum – known as S21. A former school set in beautiful location, around 20,000 prisoners were killed here in the 1970s.
Rules and regulations. Shocking.
In all honesty it was a hard day, seeing places where such cruelty and wickedness had occurred. And to think it’d happened as recently as the late-1970s too was even more unbelievable. It was fascinating to see the Killing Fields and S21 prison and I would highly recommend a trip there to anyone visiting Cambodia. It gave us a real insight into Cambodian history and the horrific pain and suffering these people endured.
The following day we needed a holiday pick-me-up. What better than a visit to a beautiful animal rescue centre in the countryside. This little dude even mohawked-up his hair for us. Cheers fella!
Oh yes, this was the BEST day of the entire holiday. Maz got to feed the monkeys, many of whom followed us around all morning.
“Baby monkey, baby monkey, riding on a pig (deer) baby monkey!”(Google it!)
“Give us a kiss, Maz”
All of the animals in the giant park had been rescued from a really poor life, be it as a pet, a working animal, or saved from poachers. Although I don’t like seeing animals locked up like this, their enclosures were the biggest I’d ever seen. The monkeys didn’t even stay in the enclosure. They followed us around the park, as did the deer. Thankfully this bad boy didn’t get that privilege.
Web-fingered hand shake, normally reserved solely for Bristol Rovers fans.
We stopped for a homemade lunch, consisting of Cambodian curry dishes and vegetables. BEST meal of the trip. Amazing food. The lady at the top looks overjoyed by the feast in front of her eyes!
After lunch we saw some rescued elephants, including this one with a prosthetic foot, rescued from a poacher’s trap years ago. There’s some disgusting humans around. Why would anyone want to hurt this beautiful animal?!
Mr Meow – a huge tiger and, unbelievably, a former pet! There were several tigers on site. It’s sad they can’t be released, but at least they can live safely here.
On our jeep ride back to base we passed Lucky on her afternoon walk. Amazing experience being able to get that close to such a huge yet gentle animal.
Everything else after the rescue reserve day was an anticlimax. This is the entrance to the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. Sheer opulence in a country with massive poverty issues and children going hungry on the streets, Doesn’t really sit happily with me and we didn’t spend too much time here.
Inside the grounds of the palace. It was pretty stunning but we were ready to move on to the next destination. An 8hr bus journey north to Siem Reap awaited us the following morning.