Phenom Pen

Last Friday we ventured to Phenom Pen for the weekend, it was a 30 minute plane trip, we opted for this rather than the 8hour bus or 4hr boat.

Prior to landing the spread of the Mekong could be seen covering a vast area. We stayed in a hotel called the Frangapani and it was right next to the merging point of the Mekong and the Tonle Sap river, which drains out of the lake by the same name.

Our journey into the hotel was via Tuk Tuk and we got to see the traffic up close, nothing exceptional, but it did feel relaxed much like Siem Reap as compared to down town HCMC, which is just load, dirty and fast!

The hotel was lovely, friendly staff and great roof top restaurant, the bed was also nice – we slept well and were up early waiting for friends so we could go off to the Killing Fields. The taxi arrived an hour early and we left just before 10am detouring to avoid the congestion caused by a protest against the Government not ceding to the  will of the people as expressed in free elections and leave office. In fact the tourist numbers were right down as the news of civil disobedience and the potential for over reaction from the police and army was keeping people away.

The Killing Fields is a somber and grisly place – the collection of skulls being hard to view, and when you realise that this was just one of many and that 3million died in about a three year period of Pol Pot rule, it is hard to understand. The prison that we visited early on route, an old school, is also a terrible reminder of the atrocities committed with the gallows still in plain sight.

At one point on route we past hordes of people on the road, both sides, and these turned out to be workers from the factories heading home for lunch, there are factories all over, newly build or in construction, often they have blue roofs and have a sinister aura, mostly there were no signs saying what the purpose of the factory was – low wages and exploitation were in the news!

Sunday saw Cathie and Helen  off shopping ALL day except for a quick lunch time visit where they interrupted John and I at the Irish pub next to our hotel – we had viewed the museum.

Monday saw us off to see an Ankor Watt type ruin at Tonle Bati and a visit to the wild life rescue farm. The latter was most unexpectedly well developed with large spaces available to all animals, many of which were victims of poachers or urbanisation or farm clearance. The Sun Bear being the  highlight.

As always the people were fantastic and it was a pleasure. Pictures at: