Thursday, April 19, 2007

Phnom Penh, Cambodia - 18 Apr 07

The Heart Wrenching Past

i took a dragon fruits that i bought yesterday as my breakfast. It was 10 am by then, too late to start a day.

A moto driver approached me the moment i stepped out from the guesthouse, so we agreed on a price and he would be my driver for the day. The weather was still hot hot hot. So motocycle is not really a good choice!

We first went to Orrusey Market just opposite to my guesthouse. This market is very lively with people selling all kind of things from vegetable, flowers, meats, dried food, garment to anything you might need in your daily life! i keep these two rules as my guidelines to bargain: 1.) The more important is getting a price which you and the merchant could agree with, and not getting the cheapest price! (Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world) 2.) Always decide on what you are willing to pay first, then work on that price. Appreciate the room of negotiation and not taking the bargaining as some kind of 'hard labour'work.

Next, we went to Killing Filed. Although Ah Khoon said this place could be skipped because there is just a 'pile'of skulls. But i was glad that i was there. i found this place to give me a more stunning effects than over the genocide meseum later. You saw the 'pile'of human skulls from children, women to adults and the rag of their clothes. With so many of the holes around the serene compound, you almost could imagine that, the victims were brought to here, kneel down, got killed and kicked into the hole. I started to wonder, why there are people like to harm life? Then i feel happy that, i did my part for being a vegetarian.

i took my lunch a the garden oasis of a restaurant called Bodhi Tree. The food is superb and the plants around have a cooling effect. The restaurant is right opposite to the Genocide Museum (Toul Sleng Museum). At least by this second day, i discovered that, being a vegetarian probably mean i missed the local food culture and i would be expected to pay more for most of my meals. I meant, i went only to those restaurant where vegetarian food is served or at least where i know the staff will be able to understand me and got my food prepared in the way i want. This means a 'higher'end restaurant and cost more. Double of the price i would pay for a decent meal in Singapore in fact.

i spent longer time than i expected in the Genocide Museum. I watched an one hour movie (one at 10am the other at 3pm). The movie was basically about how the Pol Pot regime destroyed or separated a loving couple. This was pretty much the same experience for all people at that time. The museum used to be a school, but turned to a torturing compound later. You saw some of the apparatus they used, the cells they used to keep the people and many photos of the victims. It was sad and a part of the history that couldn't be changed now. With the death of Pol Pot, the 'truth'about why he ever committed such things are also unknown.

Due to lack of time, i skipped Russian Market and the orphanage. So i extended another day in Phnom Penh because i really wanted to go to the orphanage. i went to the restaurant at river side and waited for Mei Sing's brother in law, Edwin. He was very kind to show me around his working place and told me some interesting story about the casino. Basically, he and Frankie showed me a bit here and there of the life of an expat in Phnom Penh. I would say that, i don't mind to live in this place for a year or two too! Finally, Edwin and his driver sent me back to my guest house.

It started to rain after a while. Then i discovered that, if i opened the window and let the cold wind to come in, then my room won't be this hot! i did and i had a better sleep in the night then.

KILLING FIELD - This is the 'pile' of skulls. It is inside of a stupa.

This is how the stupa looks like from far.

GENOCIDE MUSEUM - This compound used to be a school but eventually used as a torture ground by Khmer Rouge. The photos of Khemer Rouge victims.

The school then the torturing ground of Khmer Rouge and now the Genoside Museum.

1.) Moto - Whole day USD 10
2.) Food: USD 6 (Far too cheap than actual as dinner is on Edwin!)
3.) Sights Entrance Fees: USD 2 + 8000R
4.) Accommodation: Capitol GH - USD 4
5.) Other: Internet- 2000R and Shopping USD 6

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