Today was our only day full day in Phnom Penh and so we had a lot of sightseeing to fit into the day. Since many of the most important sites are scattered around the city, the best way to get around is to hire a tuk tuk driver for the day. We hired ours, settled on where we wanted to go, and got the day started.
All of what we saw today I had seen 5 years ago. My goal was to show the city to Travis, and I think that because of those two things today wasn’t as hard on me as it was back in 2005. It shifted the focus a little and the surprise element was gone. Still, I was nonetheless moved by what we saw…
Our first stop was the Khmer Rouge’s Killing Fields, locally known as Choeung Ek. It’s quite a ride from downtown, with beautiful countryside vista outside of the fences. I won’t write much about this nor the next stop – you can read about my impressions of them in my post from 2005. I will say though that the mass graves had been cleaned up a bit: there was no bones or teeth or clothing sticking out of the ground.
We drove back into the city, this time to visit S21, the Khmer Rouge concentration camp also known as Toul Sleng. Even though I had taken so many pictures on my last visit, I couldn’t help to take more this time. The thousands of portraits of the victims are so hypnotizing, so powerful… the torture instruments and the blood stains on the tiles so disturbing. All of these people died, and for having done what? Nothing.
Our visit over it was time to start the more cheerful part of our day. We headed to the Russian Market for lunch and a few souvenirs. I hadn’t seen the food market section last time, and I was glad to have seen it this time. It’s quite a nice one!
On our way back to the waterfront we asked the tuk tuk driver to drop us off at Wat Phnom, a temple located on the highest point in the city (a tiny hill in a parc by the river).
After visiting Wat Phnom we walked along the riverfront and made it back to the restaurant and bar district. There, I took Travis to my second most favourite restaurant in Phnom Penh: The Foreign Correspondent Club. We sat on the rooftop terrace, watching the sun set over the river drinking mojitos. What a better way to end a day, and conclude our time in Cambodia?