Day 37: We arrived in Phnom Penh after a 6 hour journey, including strange border crossing. I say strange because whilst you put your baggage through the scanner machine, there wasnt even anyone watching it, not quite the excessive procedure you have to endure in europe, lets put it that way. The entrance to cambodia was beautiful. It's amazing how different the landscape and hosues can be just by crossing a border. The houses are on stilts, due to the likelyhood of floods and look beautifully simple amongst the vast landscape. That night we started to realise that Cambodia is surprisingly more expensive than Vietnam. Prehaps because everything is priced as US dollars. Cambodia seems a lot more relaxed than vietnam. The riverside area of Phnom Penh is quite touristic. But less people, I think amounts to less being hassled. There is a strange ambience here though. A few to many older western men, with young cambodian girls. Desperation is more apparent as women lay their naked babies on the pavement to sleep and beg for money. Young 8 or 9 year old girls carrying babies around until late at night, begging at tables. We were later told the babies are often drugged to keep them quiet. There are signs in menus and on walls warning against supporting child labour, exploitation and the child sex trade. On the surface it seems nice here, but I think there are a few hidden truths.
Day 38: We decided to hire a took took (cost 12$) to take us to the genocie museum and kiling fields. These are testiments to the khymer rouge and the revolution here that killed over 3 million cambodian people. This dispute only ended properly in the 1990's and the court cases for crimes against humanity continue today. I knew nothing about cambodian history or what a regime such as this can do to its people. Again this experience was a real shock. The s-21 genocide museum, was a torture camp in the centre of the city run by the Khymer Rouge. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed here as protestors of the communist regime. This could just mean you were intelligent, wore glasses, werent a native cambodian, or you were suspicious looking. The tortures were horrendous, and testimonials and photographs were emotive to say the least. Many of the prison camp workers are still alive and working in cambodia and the country is littered with land mines as a testimony to its struggle. You can travel around for quite some time, eating cheap food, having fun on the beach and not really understand a country. I think this country is only just building itself back up. At the killing fields there was far less information and elicit photographs. It was eeire how tranquil it was, when in the middle of the mass graves stood a temple full of skulls of some of those that had been killed. That evening we ate at a restaurant by the river. A boy trying to sell us hammocks came to join us. He told us he was 14, but we later established he was 11. He was very charismatic, with an array of card tricks and a sense of humour, he sat at our table and played jenga with us for a while. His name was Ky. We bought him a coke, and when he got bored of us he just left. It is amazing how intelligent and quick the kids are here. Ky says he finishes selling at 11'0 clock at night. Can you imagine an 11 year old in england working all night, then school the next day. We booked on a bus for Kampot the next day.