We booked 2 nights at the 'Big Easy'. A great hostel on a busy street, with plenty of options for food and drink (including the hostels bar and restaurant). It also had a great location, which was ideal for our trek out into the city.
Our first point on our tour, was Wat Phnom, a beautiful temple in the middle of the metropolis of Phnom Penh. We always call by the local market place and I was beginning to wonder why, as with only 10kgs in baggage, we never buy anything and they always seem to sell the same stuff. The Central Market however is different. Set in a unique hall, the market is laid out in an easy to navigate fashion and seemed to sell everything - definitely worth a peruse.
On from here (and with some new 'Ray Bans') we head out the Royal Palace and the grounds. It was later in the evening, so we didn't get in to the Palace but I believe you can, the grounds however have a great atmosphere. At night it is alive with local families and tourists.
Only a short stroll from here as well took us Botum Pagoda park and the park that runs perpendicular to it leading to Independence Monument. Again, great in the evening, especially when all the locals have finished work and take to the park to play badminton and a form of 'keepy up' with a shuttlecock. Great fun but very difficult... trust me :) We capped off the day with a beer in the hostel and a plan for the next day's trip to the 'Killing Fields' and Tuol Sleng Genocide museum aka S21 Prison.
Getting a 'tuk tuk' to the fields only cost $7 through the Grab app, so we didn't use any of the buses which were charging $10 each person. We got up early to avoid the heat and crowds and travelled the 45mins as the tuk tuk battled through the Phnom Penh traffic! The fields cost $8 each with audio guide, which it is definitely worth it as the narrator is Cambodian and manages to capture how horrific this and the 300 other fields across Cambodia would have been. We have been to alot of museums on this journey which have highlighted some horrendous human atrocities that have been committed but this was probably one of the worst and most graphic accounts.
The monument is a fitting tribute to the many who lost their lives here.
After about 2 hours at the chilling 'Killing Fields' we paid $5 for a 'tuk tuk' over to S21, the prison that detainees spent the remainder of their days before they were sent the 'Killing Fields'. Again we hired an audio guides for $8 each (inc. entry, which we found we worth it, as similar to the fields they were narrated by a survivor of the period, which adds more meaning to the visit.
The prison, former school, has been better preserved than the fields, so much so that the climbing frames that the children would have played on before it was turned into a prison are still there. There are many harrowing accounts in here from survivors and prison guards, telling the terrible story of S21. Sadly there is still alot of evidence in the prison that reflect what happened here. We felt it was really important when visiting Cambodia to see this and get a scope of what happened in the country only 40 years ago. We decided to walk about, instead of take a 'tuk tuk', as it took you through the Royal Palace grounds and helped clear our heads. If you decide to do this, it a long day doing both together but for us we felt it better helped paint the terrible picture.
That brought our 2 days and time in Phnom Penh to a close but started our journey into Cambodia.
After moving quickly through Vietnam and going from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh we decided we needed some sun and a beach and Sarah had found just the spot! A remote island with beautiful sunsets that you watch from your cozy 2 man tent that is only metres away from the crystal clear sea and behind you is only thick jungle...bliss!
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