Loading Map...

Phonm Penh, Cambodia

Written on: Thursday November 15th, 2007

A journal entry from: South-East Asia, 2007

Cambodia, what a Country?  Steeped in a rich, glorious and proud history, victim of the most evil wars and vicious genocides in recent history, struggling with poverty and corruption, and still a smile always brings a smile in return.  We have met some of the sweetest people -from waitresses to tuk-tuk drivers to volunteers and children in orphanages, to passers-by on the street.  We have also seen the affluence of the Royal Palace and the poverty of the street people and those disabled by land mines and unexploded ordinance left all over the country by the countless wars.  We will do a separate Blog on some of the orphanages we have visited.  

Phnom Penh is situated on the Mekong and the riverfront promenade, French colonial hotels and restaurants, the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, Independance Monument and great Wats and Temples glitter with glory and romance.  But in a former secondary school not many blocks away, in the heart of the city, is the building that Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge forces turned into the infamous "SS21" prison, interrogation and torture centre.  And just 15km from town centre in a quiet, lush countryside are the "Killing Fields" where thousands of prisoners were taken and brutally executed and buried in mass graves.  So the juxtaposition of the majestic and the horrible is so blatant.  The car-to-motorbike ratio is much higher here than Vietnam (late-model Mercedes, BMW's & Camrys) indicating the presence of the rich and powerful and the NGO's, but the poverty is more evident than in Vietnam as well.

So we spent an heart-rending week in Phnom Penh and some nearby orphanages and made some wonderful new friends before continuing to Siem Reap and the great Angkor Wat.