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PHNOM PENH

Cambodia
20-21 October 2009

Woke up at around 0430hrs and prepared for our trip to Phnom Penh. After eating breakfast we took the tuk-tuk to the bus station and by 0845hrs the bus rolled out of the station with a stop over at the roadside restaurant where we stopped by going to Seam Reap. At 1300hrs we were at Phnom Penh where we checked-in at the Basac Guesthouse & Restaurant, after freshening up we headed by tuk-tuk to the Khemer Saravan Restaurant for lunch where they saw is the best restaurant in Phnom Penh with papers pasted in the walls saying how good the food is.

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After lunch we headed for the Royal Palace but decided not to go inside and see it because we thought that the entrance fee of $20 per pax is not worth it. Se we instead headed for Choeung Ek Genocide Center or better known as The Killing Fields.

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Choeung Ek Genocide Center is a former orchard about 17km south of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This world famous site is known as the Killing Fields, where the Khmer Rouge regime executed about 17,000 people between 1975 and 1979. Mass graves containing more than 8,000 bodies were discovered at Choeung Ek after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Today, Choeung Ek is a memorial, marked by a Buddhist stupa. The stupa has plexiglass sides and is filled with more than 5,000 human skulls. Some of the lower levels are opened during the day so that the visitor can see the skulls directly. Many have been shattered by gunshots to the head or smashed in with implements such as hoes.

Tourists are encouraged by the current Cambodian government to visit Choeung Ek. Apart from the stupa, the visitor can see the pits from which the bodies of the 8,000 victims were exhumed. Human bones still litter the site. There seems to have been no effort to provide a proper burial or cremation for the victims. There is also a souvenir shop which strikes some visitors as being in poor taste. The road from Phnom Penh to Choeung Ek is very poor, and very dusty in the dry season, and visitors are advised to go there by car rather than by tuk-tuk or as motorbike pillion passengers.

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After The Killing Fields we headed back to the center of town and did some grocery then stayed for a while in a park near the mall. Went back to the Guesthouse and rested for the day.

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We woke up a little bit late and by 0900hrs we went to the Independence Tower and took pictures then headed for the Russian Market where we did some souvenir shopping till 1030hrs. Went back to the guesthouse and with the others went to Phasar Toul Tum Poung Buddhist Temple where we were blessed by a man and after the blessing went back playing a board game with his friend, then we transferred to the main Temple and took pictures while we had a small conversation with the Head Monk.

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Ate lunch at the guesthouse and by 1330hrs was at the bus station for our trip back to Saigon where we arrived at 2000hrs, ate dinner at Bui Vien then went home to rest.

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