Cambodia: Phnom Penh

First stop in Cambodia was spent learning about the Khmer Rouge and the city of Phnom Penh.

Our journey to Cambodia consisted of 9 busses… which seems maybe a little crazy because we definitely could have flown instead. But it’s all about the adventure!

Who knew a bus ride could be so fun? We took a sleeper bus. The easiest way to describe a sleeper bus is a hostel on a bus. Basically there’s little twin side beds all on the sides which are meant to fit two people! Lucky for us elizabeth and I are pretty comfortable with each other by now. We discovered that we needed to switch busses after an hour or so on or first one so we ended up sharing the back bed of the bus (which is as wide as the bus) with another couple.

It seems as though the minivan busses have slowly started getting worse and worse… from Thailand to Laos to Cambodia. Same with the roads, especially in Cambodia where the driver only drives so that he tries to avoid all the pot holes on the dirt roads or swerved through the traffic in the city center. Cambodia is very flat compared to our other counties. Laos is so mountainous and hilly, with twists and turns where Cambodia is so flat with wet green fields everywhere.

Phenom penh is an incredibly busy city. It’s huge and it’s weird, they use USD for currency, there’s real fancy shops, tons of vegan cafes, lots of western food,ice cream, lots of bars with $1 drinks, Canadian banks everywhere, busy streets filled with motorcycles, tuktuks, cars, and trucks. The streets aren’t the cleanest, it’s not the most organized, there’s people everywhere and they give you strange looks. Phnom Penh is probably the city in Asia where I’ve felt the most unsafe.

We went to visit the S21 prison and the Killing Fields. I can’t even begin to describe to you what it’s like here. Everyone walks around in silence listening to the audio tapes about survival accounts and the history of Khmer Rouge. We learned all about Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot. Essentially all sense of culture and life in Cambodia was destroyed by the communist reign in 1975. Anything that seemingly stood in Pol Pots way was destroyed including all culture, religion, intellectuals, etc. About 3 million Innocent people were tortured and killed during this time. It’s very saddening and depressing to think of all the people who had to suffer during this time.

We also went on an architecture tour about the 1960 Khmer architecture though the city of Phnom Penh. Our guide was super passionate about architecture so he made it so much more interesting. We went to a housing district called 100 houses, the main university, and the Olympic stadium. Our guide said something along the lines of “architecture is when you walk into a building and it makes an impact on you”. Although I’m not super interested in architecture, the places he took us were great, these buildings are so adequately designed for the tropical environment with their lifted and breathable structures. The 100 houses were used by the people after people were able to come back to the city to work for the banks/ government after the Khmer Rouge but now only about 30% remain. The Olympic stadium was originally made for a game with the south East Asian countries however it wasn’t finished on time, and has never actually been used for the Olympics.

This isn’t the most exciting post but we learned a lot about history of Cambodia during our time in Phnom Penh and the city felt way too busy and chaotic to stay any longer.[envira-gallery id=”5597″]