Pack Light, Travel Often travel blog

Inside Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre.

Outside Royal Palace.

By the riverside at night.

As we scrambled onto the bus to Phnom Penh. We were ushered on by cries of "Quick, quick. Can't stop. The police." That was our first warning. On board the bus we decided to learn a few key Khmer phrases from the guidebook. Along with the usual 'Hello', 'Goodbye' and 'Thank you' was the phrase 'Are there mines here?' Seemingly quite useful to know when in Cambodia. That was our second warning.

Beyond the illuminated hostess bars and hectic street markets, tucked in amongst the bustling streets and smiling locals, lies a dark and upsetting past. Despite learning as much as I could before entering Cambodia, I still found myself shocked by it all. My time spent at the Killing Fields and Prison S21 will stay with me. The harrowing truth of Pol Pot's regime is terrifying.

I can't help but marvel at the strength and resilience of the wonderful people here. They have struggled through years of bloodshed and poverty but their positive spirit seems unbreakable. They have created so much wonder to admire. The local dish, Khmer Amok, is lightly spiced and truly delicious. The riverside is peaceful and cool. The locals are welcoming, the tuktuk drivers are reliable and we are rarely hassled to buy anything. Having been offered a few mixed opinions on Cambodia, I wasn't quite sure how I would like Phnom Penh. But I do like it, in fact I really like it.

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