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Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Day 2

A day of sightseeing in Phnom Penh which, given its history, was not very cheerful. The first stop was the Choeung Ek Killing Fields, where approximately 20,000 people were killed under the Khmer Rouge. Roughly 100 mass graves have been uncovered so far, which we walked around while reading up on the site. There were also human bones and clothes from the graves on display in a monument. A short video summarised the horrific story and gave some personal accounts as well. 

Next it was off to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former high school that the Khmer Rouge turned into a prison. It was here that they tortured thousands of people before sending them off to the killing fields. A photo was taken of each prisoner that went through the prison, and these were all on display throughout the classrooms. I don't think we can ever appreciate how good we have it.

Once we finished the depressing sites we ticked off a few more tourist attractions. First was the Russian market (I had no idea why it was Russian), which was hot, crowded and smelled like raw seafood. There wasn't much to buy other than fake designer brands. After that we hit the Royal Palace, which was massive and amazing. No photos were allowed inside, so I can't show you how great it was. The Silver Pagoda was located in the palace grounds, so-called because the floor was covered with pure silver tiles weighing one kilogram each. Apparently they couldn't think of a better way to spend their money. Lastly we stopped by the Central Market but it was closing as we arrived. Danny had enough time to buy a Swiss army knife before they shut up for the night. 

It was another day of being accosted by every stallholder and tuk-tuk driver we passed, but today we also had beggars asking for money. Most of them were missing a limb. They would fight each other just to receive a few cents from us. They crowded around the main attraction sites, knowing where the people with money would be. It was not a pleasant sight.

I ordered a pre-dinner drink of white wine, thinking it would be hard to screw that up. Turned out that the wine was way past its use by date, kept on the shelf, served with ice and tasted like cork. I'll have to check the state of the wine before ordering another one. For dinner we visited a restaurant recommended by a few people called Friends, which is run by former street kids. I think it was as close to fine dining as you'll get in Phnom Penh. As it was mostly tapas, we shared a few dishes. Spring rolls, tacos, fried rice, Asian crepes: superb. I would recommend it to anyone going to Cambodia.

It seems that the pyjama suit is popular among middle aged women here, and the more colourful the better. It really looks like a pair of floral pyjamas, but apparently these are classy enough to wear outside the house. I wonder if that trend will take off in Australia...

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, phnom penh, cambodia
royal palace, phnom penh, cambodia
mass grave, choeung ek killing field, phnom penh, cambodia
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