Thursday, January 17, 2008

Phom Penh

The bus ride from Saigon to Phnom Penh in Cambodia seemed rather short but the border crossing took a bit of time. The guy on the bus collected all the passports and the fee for the Cambodian visa and a fee for himself. The process seemed to go OK but I did not really like handing my passport to a guy with a huge stack of passports. I went through 4 different checks and after each of these checks I would have to give my passport to the bus guy again. I think the checks where Vietnam Customs, Leaving Vietnam, Cambodian Customs and then entering Cambodia but not sure why I had to give him my passport after I was in Cambodia. After lunch in Cambodia we got back on the bus and were given our passports so all went well but sort of a strange process. I did not eat at the lunch stop since I did not have any Cambodian money and they did not seem to want Vietnamese Dong which surprised me.

Cambodia was a bit of a change to Vietnam but the biggest shock for me was the ATM machines. I had sort of heard about it before getting to Cambodia but still strange to get US dollars from an ATM in Southeast Asia. The dollar seems to be used by everyone including the locals.

Things seemed more expensive in Cambodia than it had been in Vietnam. This surprised me since I thought Cambodia is a poorer country but maybe this is no longer the case. There were a lot larger volume of cars compared to the number of scooters that had been in Vietnam and a lot of the cars were very expensive types. It seemed to me the Land Rover SUV is the thing to drive in Cambodia.

Phnom Penh has tuk tuks and motorbikes on just about every corner that want to take you somewhere. It does not seem to matter that you tell the first 3 no thank you the 4th one will still ask if you want a ride. The tuk tuks are not what I think of a tuk tuk but rather a motorbike with a little trailer behind it. Also helmets don't seem to be required for motorbike like they were in Vietnam.

While in Phnom Penh I visited the National Museum, the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagado, the Independence Monument, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and did a walking tour of the city that was in one of the guidebooks.

The site that made the biggest impact on me was the S21 Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. I had read the history about all of the killings in Cambodia but the photos of the faces and the fact that a lot of them were just children got to me a bit. Of all the people that came through this building that was used as a prison only 9 survived.

No comments:

Post a Comment