Leaving Phnom Penh For Sihanoukville
Having left it too late to buy a ticket for the Giant Ibis bus to Sihanoukville the hotel we stayed at recommended another bus company which they claimed is just as good, and, as it costs the same I take the bait, buy the tickets, how wrong can you be. We ended up with tickets on Vet bus run by Virak-Buntham Express Travel & Tour. Like most bus companies in Cambodia they collect you from your hotel about an hour before scheduled departure time. The pickup van, a dilapidated and rusting wreck, from the hotel told me this was going to be an interesting experience come what may. Whilst the actual minivan bus turned out not to be too bad what no one could prepare you for was the insane driver to match the general level of insane driving that is Cambodian road travel. And yes, I have lived to tell the tale, but I reckon the stress of the journey may well knock a couple of years off my life expectancy. To give you some idea of the speed we went at we managed to pass the Giant Ibis bus plying the same route, but which had left Phnom Pen and hour before our departure time. In reality we had little choice as we had a hotel reservation in Sihanoukville and a well-planned itinerary. The next bus journey to Kampot turned out to be equally as hair raising, although mercifully half the distance. In a word never again!!
Otres Beach Sihanoukville
The Killing Fields (Choeung Ek) and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)
Both of these places are the main draws for travelers to Phnom Penh and visited on the same day by most as a combined package. It makes for a somber, sober and saddening day, planting memories of images and scenes that are likely to stay with you and last a lifetime. No bad thing, although we did witness some disrespectful idiots taking selfies in an around the Stupa that houses the skulls of the dead. Whilst another group of young adult Australians I witnessed were loud and behaved as if they were visiting a theme park. At the risk of sounding, or being, preachy visitors should show their respect for all who died in these dreadful places by observing an air of solemn calm and quiet reflection.
The Entrance to Choeung Ek Genocidal Center
The Killing Fields, once the site of an orchard, memorialises and symbolises the final expressions of barbarity of the Khmer Rouge, the final resting place for the murdered, located about 17 Kilometres outside Phnom Penh most arrive here by Tuk Tuk.
The Memorial Stupa. This Stupa houses the skulls of many of the victims found buried around the site now known as the Killing Fields. Depressions in the ground are the sites of excavated mass graves.
It is estimated that from a population of some 8 million people about a quarter were either murdered or starved to death during the reign of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. For me, although witness of the remains of the mass graves is an awful reality, the most harrowing and difficult to comprehend aspect of the place is the Killing Tree that was used to kill babies and children in the most horrific fashion by bashing their skulls against it. I cried a lot this day and in the end despaired for us as a race when my thoughts turned to current day events taking place in Syria at the behest of another couple of murderous dictators, Assad and Putin. For the sad truth is, humanity it seems will never learn.
Day Tripping North Wales, Walking in Sunshine, Almost!
With the first weekend of proper blue sky sunshine upon us and a bit of heat in the air to accompany, thoughts turn to getting out of the city, even if just for a day and heading into the countryside.
Living in Manchester we are lucky enough to have a host of easy to reach destinations whether traveling north, south, east or west. That said, it is never a difficult one you make in choosing Wales, one of my favorite places on the planet. It doesn’t matter how far or wide I travel this globe of ours I never tire of trips to Wales, where even a familiar landscape causes me to smile as the light shows it in a subtle different and ever changing fresh perspective.
A Travel Bloggers Impressions of Phnom Penh Cambodia in Words & Pictures
Monument to the late King Norodom Sihanouk with independence monument in background
I first visited Phnom Penh about 4 years ago and was struck this visit by the rate of change and the speed of development taking place in this city on the move. This is fast turning in to and exciting vibrant and great city to visit in South East Asia. No longer just a stopping post for visiting the Killing Fields and S21 but is fast becoming a destination city in itself.
Memorial statue and monument to the Vietnamese army for their part in driving the Khmer Rouge out of Phnom Penh