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Janine’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 01 Oct 2008

Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

MapWhy do I always book the early flights??? Kirsty and I had a ridiculously early start for Singers and off we flew to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. On arrival we jumped into a bumpy old tuk tuk and headed into town - a very slow ride but entertaining as we got our first taste of Cambodia.
We ended up in the "Golden Mile" a street where every hotel as the world "Golden" in it. We chose the Golden Gate. After a quick refresh we hit the streets. "No we don't want a tuk tuk" this quickly became our mantra even when they constantly assured us it was "free!" Yeah right. Our hotel wasn't particularly close to anything so we certainly clocked up the miles. We basically just wandered for a while taking in the sites. It was a public holiday so there was plenty of action at all the temples around town. I was actually surprised at how many ornate temples there were. I was expecting more poverty but those buddhists certainly know how to make a great temple (or wat).
That afternoon we headed for Tuol Sleng, the former high school where the Khmer Rouge carried out many of their attrocities. It was pretty horrific. It just looked like any old school but the horror was so recent. It's hard to believe that it happened in my life time but the bold stains are still there to prove it. When will humans stop doing these things to one another???
After a few hours we needed a nice quiet place to reflect. We found it across the road at a very cute little restaurant. We ended up stuck there for an awfully long time as the rain poured down. Of course when you really needed one there was no tuk tuk to be found so we eventually walked home in the rain. Oh well as Tony the contiki guy says "you're not asprin, you won't dissolve"
That night we found a lovely little restaurant in our street and I tried my first of many "fish amok". Yummo!
Day 2 saw a trip to the Killing Fields. Another horrid but essential experience. It was very confronting seeing the tower of skulls and then all of the bone fragments, teeth and clothing scattered around the field.
That afternoon we tried to see lots of things but they were closed.... silly public holidays. We did manage to see the museum which was quiet small but had some interesting pieces. Having drinks at the Foreign Correspondents club on the river was a nice way to spend the afternoon.
Day 3 we spent heaps of dosh at Tabitha, a workshop for underpriveledged women. We tried to spend more cash at the Russian Market but - you guessed it - closed. We headed for the palace. They wouldn't let me in cos I was wearing a wrap and didn't want to buy their dodgy tshirt so Kirsty went in and I hung out at the Foreign Correspondents club again.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised with Phnom Penh. I was expecting more beggars and touting but there was very little of that. When little street kids approached I was expecting them to ask for cash but they just said hello and waved. Lovely people!