Today was going to be a busy day. We had arranged with the travel agent to hire a driver for the day to take us to see the Killing Fields, S-21 Museum, Watt Phnom and the Independence Monument. This also involved quite a bit of driving as the Killing Fields/The Choeung Ek Genocidal Center was approximately 15 km southeast of the city. It doesn’t sound too far unless you are battling rush ‘hours’ traffic in Phnom Penh. From the distance and length of time it took to get from our hotel I am guessing we were not located at the southeast edge of the city. Traffic was insane here but that seems to be the norm for all of these SE Asia cities.
Pick up time was 9:00 am from our hotel and the driver was right on time. We had paid US$35 but this was only for the driver and did not include admission to the Killing Fields or the S-21 Museum. Still a pretty good deal in my opinion. Here are a few sites we saw on our way.
The ticket pictures show admission being US$3 to the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center and US$3 for the audio headset. For some reason I thought it was more than that but honestly don’t remember now.
Choeung Ek is the most well-known of over 300 killing fields throughout Cambodia.
It is a sad place with a story to be told. A horrific story of how it was while the Khmer Rouge was in power. How they murdered close to 2 million people.
Many of the stops are now just a picture and a sign with a brief description. The narratives were more detailed and excellent. Very moving.
Locals came up to the fence begging for money. It was so sad to see. Above bottom right is Logan Orchard were people were worked to death by Angkar
From here we basically drove in silence as we processed what we had just seen.
Once we got back to the city of Phnom Penh I saw this building, Ashley Furniture. Same company we have at home.
Our next stop was the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum also known as Security Prison S 21, Interrogation and Detention Center of the Khmer Rouge. One of what I understand was many similar prisons. This had been the Tuol Svay Prey High School in the city, but was taken over in 1975. Again very moving with an important story to be told and to be remembered. Between the years of 1975 and 1978 more than 17,000 prisoners were held here and later taken to Choeung Ek Genocidal Center to be murdered. They would take before and sometimes after torturing pictures of each person who arrived here. Everything and everyone was well documented. Unfortunately, our driver did not give us enough time to tour the whole complex. Our admission ($5 US) and audio tour ($3 US) was so full of information.
Since we were running into rush hour traffic again, (I’m starting to think that it is always rush hour here), we didn’t really stop and get to see the National Monument. Our driver just pulled to the side of the road and I hopped out to grab a photo from there. Was a little disappointed in this especially since it was part of the package we had arranged. We also drove by the Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house.
From here we headed off to the Watt Phnom which is in Phnom Penh. It was built-in 1372 and is the tallest religious structure in this city. Our driver gave us around 30 minutes to tour here. Foreigners once again had to pay, but only US$1.
I thought that 30 minutes was not going to be enough time but it turned out to be plenty. Though it looked like a large temple and grounds from the road it really wasn’t and we finished in 20 minutes.
Our driver dropped us back at our hotel around 3:00. Have to say that it was really great having our own driver and not dealing with a bus load of people at every stop.
We rested up for a very short bit and then headed out search of food. We hadn’t eaten since our breakfast at the hotel. We headed back down to the main road by the water as this is where most of the restaurants seemed to be in our area. It was always so hard for me to find something that I would eat. We stopped and looked at many menus along the road and then decided to head back to one of the first places we had seen, Pka Chan Restaurant & Bar. Draft beer was cheap as it was Happy Hour. I know surprise, surprise. It always seems to be Happy Hour in Phnom Penh. Menu also had a good selection of food with reasonable prices.
Since I was starving we ordered a jug of Anchor Draft and a plate of spring rolls to start while we looked over the menu and decided on what to eat. Doug chose beef tacos and I went with chicken satay. Both were delicious and my satay serving was so large that I gave Doug one to eat. There was no way I could eat all three of them. But of course I had room for dessert! The ice cream with Baileys on it just sounded too good to resist. Doug ordered strawberry ice cream with no Baileys and I ordered vanilla ice cream with Baileys. Both came with Baileys! LOL The ice cream was more expensive than the jug of beer.
Total for our meal with a jug of beer was $21.75 US. There is a story behind this next picture.
There was a guy sitting at the table next to us who ordered Spaghetti Napoli with chicken. I know this because it appeared on our bill but was crossed off. He finished before us and was paying his bill with a $100 US bill. The waitress went to the bar to settle the bill but came back to him explaining she did not have enough change for the $100 bill. He had nothing else, so she went outside, to do what I assume was to try to find someone who could change the $100 bill, but she had no success. Next she was back saying to him that it was a fake (counterfeit) $100 US bill. She did not know the word counterfeit, but you definitely could tell what she was saying. He argued with her about this, saying that the bill wasn’t counterfeit for quite a while, but finally he offered to pay with his credit card which was declined so he tried with another credit card which was then accepted. He left the restaurant only to return a very short time later. He approached the bartender and was accusing him of making a switch, as the bill in question was not the one he had given the waitress. Next up, appeared another lady, who we are assuming was the management or owner. The bits and pieces that we picked up were in reference to calling the police and calling lawyers. So that is why I took a picture of our bill with the money that we were paying with. This wasn’t going to happen to us if in fact the restaurant did pull a change of bills on him. Guess we will never know the outcome of it. Neither side were backing down by the time we left and there were even more people involved in the ‘discussion’ by then.
After all this excitement we headed back to hotel and had a nap, snapping a few photos along the way. You can see the Monks robes hanging out to dry.
Not a high paying job by Canadian standards.
Later that night we headed to the Circle K that we had found on our street to pick up bottled water and snacks. On our very short trip there we had the pleasure of seeing a huge rat running along in the gutter. Gross!!! I will NEVER get used to rats!! Back to the room to pack up for tomorrow’s bus trip to Sihanoukville.