I remember, I was so excited to go and see a new country and Cambodia was even more exciting as all my friends said, it will be amazing. And they weren’t mistaken ☺️
*Hey Everyone, we are in Cambodia now where we came 2 days ago. After spending a spectacular 14 hours at Yangon airport -literally doing nothing- . Immigration at Bangkok airport was a joke. We only supposed to change flight there but we still had to go through immigration, which means they stamped into our passport -we both can be in the country till the 20th March- and then we had to go out to the arrival part and had to wait an other splendid 7.5 hours there… the airport wasn’t the same as the one we change at last time, it was a really shitty airport… and our biggest issue, we could not take USD out from any cash machine. We were in trouble as Cambodian visa can only be paid by USD. We had to wing it…
Arriving to Cambodia capital city,Phnom Penh, surprisingly, they do have a cash machine just by the immigration office so we could take USD out. Immigration itself is very quick, you give all your paperwork to 1 person -1x passport photo, flight ticket and passport- and in at the next window you collect your passport with visa inside after you payed 35USD. We thought we might walk the distance to the hostel but firstly, we were absolutely knackered and secondly, the hostel was a 40 mins ride by tuk tuk which we took after we realised we won’t walk it. Tuk tuk cost us 10USD which wasn’t exactly cheap. A tuk tuk is basically the same as a coco taxi in Cuba. It’s 2 seats on wheels… there are pictures, it’s easier to see than to describe ☺️. The hostel seemed ok but our room was probably the worst we stayed at so far. It has no window, only 1 small which looks at the courtyard as you come in, we only had a fan (which I knew about) but it is sooooo hot here, it literally didn’t help much. The blanket was stained…not necessarily dirty but it was stained -not like we used it as it was boiling hot-. But it’s in the middle of everything. It’s about 10 mins walk from the river Mekong where half of the thing happened and the streets where all the bars and restaurants are just about 3 mins away.
The first day we obviously went to sleep as soon as we arrived and slept till about 5-6pm, checked mails, etc and then we decided to see Phnom Penh. Well…how should I say this?? It’s nothing like Burma..NOTHING! As we walked in the streets we saw lots of Cambodian girls dressed up, I saw western men with Asian women and I first thought it’s a coincidence but soon I had to realise, it isn’t. Don’t believe what lonely planet says about no drugs, no prostitution. We saw both…prostitution is basically as obvious here as the fact it’s hot. You go out to a bar or restaurant -but all restaurants have open area as it’s so hot- and you see these women sitting with old men, 1:1 or 1 man with 2 women. You walk more long the streets and you see women dancing in front of the bars to get you in, some of them are clearly ‘man’. The amount of Western-Asian ‘couples’ we’ve seen.. I haven never seen anything like that. Drugs are also extremely obvious as wherever we went, tuk tuk drivers asked ‘tuk tuk’? when we said no thank you, next question ‘you want weed?’. It’s actually pretty funny after the 50th time they ask. So we had a dinner, decided to treat ourselves after a very long time of not sleeping, had my first gin and tonic in Asia. Had a walk and just wondered about what’s going on here… while in Burma people were so traditional and shy and very friendly, here people aren’t so traditional, everyone wears very modern clothing, people stop you on the street to sell their stuff, kids trying to sell you bracelets -but they are extremely funny kids- and even though people are still very nice here, they aren’t shy at all. We went back to the room just about 10pm and slept till next mid morning as we were still fairly dead.
Have I told you about the crazy traffic here? It’s MENTAL!!! You couldn’t even put a penny in between the cars and motorbikes. I’ve never in my life have seen that many motorbikes at one place. They almost have their own lane, that’s how many of them are. Cross road,red light,zebra crossing? No one, I mean NO ONE cares. They go if its green, they go if its red… the only difference is, they are more careful when it’s red. But they are good. There are no accidents here. They so used to drive with hundreds of other vehicles around them, they just now how to drive in between cars, motirbikes, tuk tuk’s. If motorbikes and tuk tuk can’t wait, they simply go on the side walk where people walking. No problem… mental, I’m telling you. But it’s like a fairly well organised mental ☺️
Yesterday we had a plan to visit the Genocide Museum. The story short: in Cambodia’s history, there was a few years which was a dark era here. During the leadership of Pol Pot there was the Khmer Rouge. During this dark period, close to 3 million people were killed. We visited S21 which is the Auschwitz of Cambodia. They created 200 prison cells out from a school. The reason Pol Pot killed for? He killed everyone who counted as: educated. He ruined schools and built prisons out of them. He killed millions because they studied, they spoke languages or because he thought they have secrets from the CIA. He also killed foreigners because he thought they are part of the CIA. He killed anyone went against his regime. He tortured them before they got killed. Pol Pot’s vision was, every single prisoner has something to confess. CIA names, why they went against him, etc. He tortured them until they all signed their very false testimony. They had to write what his right hand side, Comrade Duch wanted them to write. They couldn’t be killed until they signed a paper. As soon as they did, they were dead. They took them to killing fields where they dug a hole. As they didn’t want to waste bullets or didn’t want anyone two hear the shoots, they blind folded the prisoners even before they took them to the field, they asked them to kneel down and they hit them with a metal pole. As they fell into the hole they cut their throats to make sure they died. There are only 12 confirmed survivors. If you are interested more in this horrible story, you find more in Wikipedia.
We spent there hours with our audio guide and I was shocked and horrified. There were hundreds of pictures as a part of the exhibition inside the prison cells we could walk in and believe me, those pictures weren’t pretty. I didn’t take a single photo. You probably understand why. It was extremely hot, humidity is like 70%, I had a constant headache. Not sure if it was from the heat or from what I saw. I wouldn’t say not to go. I think people should know and be aware what was happening as I think the same about the holocaust. But it’s definitely difficult. To see what happened, to hear what happened, hearing real testimonies against these monsters. But it’s also interesting and a bit eye opening.
We walked back home, had some street food on the way back. People looked at us really strange as we sat next to a main road eating our chicken and God knows what else ☺️ We were the only white people… no wonder they stared. But it was good and very cheap.
Oh yeah, Cambodia’s money is real. £1= 4.9real But it doesn’t matter as we have to pay with USD almost everywhere. Definitely in restaurants and bars but even shops have USD prices. We exchanged 2 days worth of real when we arrived to the airport and now we still have… once we asked if we can pay the bill with real. They brought us the bill which is we exchange it from the USD should have been around 80,000real but they charged 100,000. We payed with USD. However, we could pay for our bust ticket to Siem Reap in real which was good (80,000real/ 2x tickets)
The entrance to the museum was 6USD with the audio guide, the food cost like 3000real.
As we were both extremely sticky, tired and just had enough of this heat, we went back to the hostel. Had a cold shower,cos there is no hot water but I didn’t need it in that heat anyway and then had a chat with my sis. I had to sort out my visa to Vietnam. Rich doesn’t need one (he is English) as long as he only stays 15 days in the country but I need one (Hungarian). I went to reception and asked them to get me one which I had to pay 45USD for/ 30 days. It isn’t cheap but apparently going to the embassy myself, might cost me more -according to the internet-. We decided to go and have a drink as it was Saturday and also happy hour, so off we went, 1.5USD for a cocktail. I had one plus a lime juice with mint, no sugar (that’s my fav). Bus left today morning at 7am which meant I had to go to sleep after we got back from our drinks.
We are on the way to Siem Reap now where we will visit the world’s 6th wonder, Angkor Wat.*