off we go! travel blog

Silver Pagoda

Part of the Royal Palace

Ruth's new tee shirt

The 6 hour journey wasn't too bad, the bus, Giant Ibis, had aircon, they supplied water and a snack, feeble wifi and stopped a couple of times for comfort breaks. On the straight bits of road the driver put his foot down, and horn blaring passed just about everything. We seemed to spend more time on the wrong side of the road than the right side! The road was well paved for the most part, but there were stretches that needed work, and from time to time a cow or two would choose to walk across the road, oblivious to all the traffic swerving by!

Phnom Penh sprawls; it is not pretty but did seem a hive of activity, with many small shops selling or making or repairing just about anything. Absolutely fascinating to see. Nice hotel, close to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, and the old market.

We decided to learn more about the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields, so hired a tuk-tuk and went first to the infamous S-21 camp; a school that was turned into a detention centre by the Khmer Rouge. The buildings have been kept as they were found in 1979 when the Vietnamese drove the KR out. Many rooms still contain the instruments of torture that were used to extract confessions, and many died there. There are photographs of all the victims, many on display, rows and rows of them. It was very disturbing. We went on to one of the killing fields at Cheung Eck. Whilst still chilling, it was mostly grassed and has been kept as a memorial to the dead. There is a stupa in the centre containing skulls and other large bones exhumed from some of the mass graves (some were 6 metres deep, some barely covered - it was these that lead to the discovery of what went on.) and portable earphone guides told how and why the memorial was set up and it included narrations by survivors of S-21 and camp guards.

In the afternoon we went to the Royal Palace complex, which included the Silver Pagoda. It was very ornate and a real juxtaposition to what we had seen in the morning. Absolutely splendidly decorated buildings and beautiful gardens containing many stupa and memorials to past kings. Incredible to see such a display of wealth, when nearby were many hovels and shanties.

Evening and another Amok and beer; we really liked this dish! Each chef had his own take on the dish but all were good.

The next day we were due to take a trip to the Mekong Delta for a couple of nights then on to Sai Gon, or Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) but we got an email to say the trip could not run due to lack of bookings. Several stern words later and the mention of Trip Advisor reviews, and we agreed with Sinhtourist in Vietnam so that we were booked on the bus to HCMC where we would join a 2 day trip into the Delta. Plan B, I suppose - all good fun and just part of the adventure.

As the bus did not leave 'til 1 o'clock we wandered off to the Old Market, which is strictly for the locals, no tourist tat here. It was fascinating to see all the different types of vegetables, fruit, fish, many animal parts, hairdressers, seamstresses and many more all jammed together under an assortment of roofing materials. It was hot, steamy and smelly, bit great fun and everyone seemed very cheerful.

Our last Amok. And so to another 6 hour bus journey, it was Sinhtourist's own bus, fairly comfortable. It had aircon, a big plus. Journey was uneventful, mile after mile of paddy, a ferry across the Mekong and over an hour to reach the centre of HCMC from the outskirts. Millions of motorcyclists weaving all over the road!

So far unable to work out how to upload photos, but working on it.

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