Good Morning Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

21 January 2008

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Like I said before, I made sure that I made used of the moleh that we spent at Hope & Anchor. I woke up at 530 AM to catch the sunrise and it was absolutely gorgeous. I saw the locals go about doing their morning routine. Exercising, getting ready to open their store or just hanging around the riverfront. It is so peaceful in the morning. The noise pollution is almost non-existent during this hour. I just sat there at the balcony until around 615 AM and then I went downstairs to the riverfront. I saw the fishermen making their living for the day… It was a lovely sight. It’s worth the pain of waking up really early! =)

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We checked out at around 8 AM and check in at our new guest house. The friendly Mekong Palace Hotel at Sisowath Quay.

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And then we head off to do our tourist duty… First stop… fill in the increasingly bulging tummy. We had breakfast at this local noodle place somewhere near the National Museum. They have English-speaking staff there and the food was really cheap! We had rice vermicilli soup with beef and it was simply delicious! They had this special sauce along with it, it was spicy and sweet… the sweetness actually tasted like brown sugar/gula malaka… SHIOK!

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After we got our tummy fixed, we head off to the National Museum. They display Pre-Angkor, Angkor and Buddhist statue there. Pretty cool. US$3 entry free and I suggest you to hire a guide, it’ll cost you US$5 extra but it’s worth it. Your guide will put words and meaning to the statues and by the end of the tour, you can differentiate between Pre Angkorian and Angkorian era statues AND you can even tell from which century it came from! hehehe… before you know it you’ll be as nerdy as Mr Lee! wakakkakaka… I kid … I kid Mr Lee, you know I love you… xoxo bitchy V.

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The self-trained tour guide with two gangho door bitchess… you betta dress like a tourist before you enter the museum bitch!

Before you know it… it’s time to… fill in our bulging tummy again… LUNCHHHHHHHHH!

We went to the ever inventive and creative in naming their sandwich shop place call… THE SHOP! It’s located at Street 240 #39. I’m really impressed with the Cambodian’s ability to make pastries… they really know what they’re doing, the French sure left something right to their colony. The price ranges between as little as US$ 1.5 to US$8. I had a mushroom bruchetta with parmesan…. YUMMEH!!! The portion was little though and I was hungry again by 4 PM 😉 Oh and they served these funky juice drinks that are deffo worth for you to try!

Infernal affairs agents seen entering “The Shop”

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After lunch off we went to The Russian Market for a little bit of shopping because it was too early to visit anything. Places are open from 730 – 11 AM and then 2 – 5 PM. So we took tuk tuk to take us to the Russian Market, The Killing Fields (Choeung Ek Memorial), S-21 (Toul Sleng Genocide Museum) and then back to our hotel. Take note that these places are quite a distance away from the riverfront. It’s not like the National Museum or the Palace which are in walking distance. But do bargain if the Tuk tuk dude says it’s gonna cost you US$20. We managed to hire him for US$10, be human and don’t be too thrifty when you bargain cos it’s fuckin far.

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Beware, the following post will be more serious. There are gruesome pictures but it’s very important to know Cambodia’s history to understand where they are right now… Cambodia was ruled by the Khmer Rouge, it’s a communist political party that came to power in 1975 – 1979 and let by the infamous Pol Pot. During those years blood were shed and injustice occurred. The Khmer Rouge followed a radical form of agrarian communism where the whole population had to work in collective farms or forced labor projects.

The Khmer Rouge regime arrested and eventually executed almost everyone suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, as well as professionals and intellectuals. It’s their way of “cleansing” the Cambodians.

All over Cambodia, researcher had estimated there were more than 1 million people killed.

The Killing field (Entry charge US$2) is 15 KM southwest of Phnom Penh. It is the biggest location where the Khmer Rouge regime executed and mass buried their victims. There were more than 17,000 men, women and children buried here. These kind of mass grave were found all over Cambodia.

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We moved on to S-21 (Toul Sleng Genocide Museum) [entry charge US$2] where the Khmer Rouge interrogated and torture their inmates. Toul Sleng was actually a high school and they turned this building into a prison! It is now lies as the witness of all those lost souls.

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You can see pictures of the inmates on display, there are never ending rows pictures of men, women and CHILDREN! And you can tell from the look in their eyes that they have surrendered their faith in the hands of their torturer! Some men have deviant look in their eyes, some gave in, but the women… the women have the helpless look in their eyes… it’s just heart wrenching… It’s as if they know… they are going to die… The younger children don’t know what’s going on… but the older ones are scared… you can just tell by the look in their eyes…

The Khmer Rouge ruled the country for only four years and they managed to create such causalities that it was unbearable to comprehend. And to think that this inhuman act happened only less than 30 years ago…

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This picture of a woman and her baby really touched me. I took this picture from two different angles and it created such an effect that I feel her gaze just follow where my camera was pointing… Her eyes… I couldn’t take it after seeing this picture that I had to get out to catch some air…

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This was their torturing chamber and they displayed the picture of the victims found dead in that chamber in 1979.

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Pictures of the dead victims.

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After that very depressing visit, we went back to our hotel to clean up and take a lil’ rest and regain our happy juice… It’s our last night in Phnom Penh so we wanna check out the night scene there. You don’t have to worry of running out of bars cos at Sisowath Quay, there are so many of ’em.

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We decided to have a Khmer meal at this restaurant call Ponlok. It’s located on 319 Sisowath Quay. We had fish amok and crab meat fried rice, stir fry veggy and some local sour soup. The Amok was served inside a coconut… fawkin cute! Excellent meal y’all! It’s pricier for a local restaurant but as long as you don’t buy the seafood, it’s still affordable.

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My coconut shake bring all ’em boys to the yard… THAT’S RIGHT IS BETTA THAN YOURS! I can teach you but I have to CHARGE!!!

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After dinner we had some drinks and hang out for a while at this cozy bar call Corner Bar accross the street from Hope & Anchor… and then we called it a night…

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Tuesday, 22nd January would be our last day and we made a stop at the Palace!